Interview | Kwame Asafo-Adjei on Developing Movement

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Family Honour by Kwame Asafo-Adjei in Danse Élargie: Dance Expanded at Sadler’s Wells, London. Photograph: Cristina Pedreira Perez/Getty Images

Lucy Morris


Kwame Asafo-Adjei on Developing Movement

Kwame Asafo-Adjei is a dancer and choreographer who fuses hip-hop with his personal experiences and background. Kwame is also the Artistic Director for company ‘Spoken Movement’, who take elements from street and contemporary dance that uses Kwame’s explorative themes of tension and the progression of black culture, creating a movement style that is stimulating and unique. He spoke to Lucy at TLM about his own journey and upcoming events. 

Hi Kwame, thank you so much for agreeing to chat to us. First things first, when did you start dancing?
I started dancing at the age of 16 – Michael Jackson was my inspiration. Perhaps I’m not alone in this..

Has dance always been your career goal?
No, my main goal was just to work for myself and own what I create. This could have been anything but it just so happens God chose dance for me, which I’m grateful for.

What inspires you to create your work?
My life experience, and the social climate – society has tension, and dance is the way I release it. As an artist, it is my responsibility is to reflect the times, and this is what I work hard to achieve; I want to reflect history.

If you were to describe your choreography style in three words, what would they be?
UGLY, TRUTH, JAW-DROPPING

Your work has been described as ‘provocative’. How do you hope the audience will respond? Is there anything you want them to take away from the dance?
To be honest, with this piece of work for Fashion Districts Fashion Festival launch, I would like the audience to just enjoy themselves and leave smiling. I hope my work will be a great launch pad for the whole event, and after such a crazy two years, who doesn’t need something to smile about?

Kwame Asafo-Adjei, Creative Director Lee Lapthorne and young designer Jack Irving

Can you talk me through what goes into the creation of each routine?
It begins with an idea, we get into the space as a company and experiment until I get close enough to whatever, image, dialogue or scene was in my head. Then, usually, I develop movement that emulates what I’m trying to say, and I tend to create structure only to destroy it.

Do each of your dances carry a message with their individual stories?
My artists each have their own individual story due to personal experiences – I always ask my artists to dance honestly.

You are the winner of the 2018 Danse Élargie choreography competition and the 2019 Rotterdam International Duet Choreography Competition. Have you got your sights set on any future competitions?
I am going to get the Olivier award, 110%! The piece I am going to create for this is Family Honour, which debuts at Sadler’s Wells via an extended version of 1 hour. Through my work, I speak about the elephant in the room. Hard work pays.

You are launching the Fashion Districts Fashion Festival on the 23rd of September with a one-off performance. What can the audience expect and how can they see it?
The audience can expect to see an immersive, explosive performance with hip-hop as a foundation filled with layers of culture. I have loved working With Lee Lapthorne, the Creative Director for the Fashion District Festival. I am also excited at the prospect of working with a host of great design talent there. East London is the epicentre for artists and creativity – it feels like home to me.

What’s next for you?
My award winning piece Family Honour will be premiering at Sadler’s Wells on 13th April 2022 and I will also be developing new work in Rotterdam, which will also be touring. After winning four competitions back to back in Europe, I aim to build a bridge for upcoming artists to receive the knowledge and tools to achieve what they want within the industry.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Please follow @fd_ldn and @SpokenMovement and visit spokenmovement.org for updates and to support our journey.

For more information about the upcoming Fashion Districts Fashion Festival, please click here.

Words by Lucy Morris.


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