Jump to content

Press Release: Project O revisits Voodoo for three performances - Jan 2020

Recommended Posts



Project O

Lilian Baylis Studio, EC1R 4TN 
Thursday 16 - Saturday 18 January 2020
Performances at 9pm
Tickets: £17
Ticket Office: 020 7863 8000 or 



Project O returns to Sadler’s Wells with thought provoking work Voodoo, at the Lilian Baylis Studio from Thursday 16 - Saturday 18 January 2020. 


Artists Jamila Johnson-Small and Alexandrina Hemsley have been making work together as Project O since 2010, intending to expose some of the structural workings of racism and misogyny and their impact on bodies. In Voodoo, they invite audiences to join them in an immersive performance. 


Voodoo examines how dance can explore, heal and challenge the violence and oppression that haunts society today. Its unfolding becomes a science fiction that addresses the desire, confusion and responsibility of being a single subject who is also a symbol of many persecuted people.

The piece received its London premiere in 2017 at the Lilian Baylis Studio. After previews in Bristol (In Between Time) and Liverpool (LEAP), it was developed through a series of site-responsive short works titled Native Instincts: Psychic Labours, and presented at a range of venues including Somerset House; K.R.O.P.P. festival, Uppsala (Sweden); Submerge, Bristol and London Contemporary Music Festival. After a sabbatical period supported by LADA and Sadler’s Wells, Project O revisits Voodoo for three performances. 


Project O made its first appearance at the Lilian Baylis Studio with O in BELLYFLOP's curated evenings as part of Wild Card in 2013, kicking off this series, now a regular part of the Lilian Baylis Studio programme. Project O became a Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate Artist in 2018, an initiative supporting distinctive choreographic voices in their development. Both artists have also taken part in Sadler’s Wells’ professional development programme for dance artists: Sadler’s Wells Summer University.  


Jamila Johnson-Small’s solo performance project Last Yearz Interesting Negro is at the Barbican from 28 November - 1 December 2019 with new work Heavy handed, we crush moment.


Alexandrina is currently working on an interdisciplinary solo project Words Collect In My Mouth: All is Fire and Flood attending to how one (an individual or overlapping communities) returns to intimacy - of self, of performing - in relation to others after violence.

Project O are Sadler's Wells New Wave Associates

A Sadler’s Wells commission, co-commissioned by Cambridge Junction and Chelsea Theatre (2015). With support from Arts Council England and Dance Research Studio. 

Contains strong language 


Notes to Editors


About Sadler’s Wells
Sadler’s Wells is a world-leading creative organisation dedicated to dance in all its forms. With over three centuries of theatrical heritage and a year-round programme of performances and learning activities, it is the place where artists come together to create dance, and where people of all backgrounds come to experience it – to take part, learn, experiment and be inspired.


Its vision is to reflect and respond to the world through dance: enabling artists of all backgrounds to create dance that moves us and opens our minds, and sharing those experiences with the widest possible audiences – to enrich their lives and deepen their understanding of what it means to be human.


Audiences of over half a million come to Sadler’s Wells’ three London theatres each year, with many more enjoying its touring productions at venues across the UK and around the world, and accessing its content through digital channels. Sadler's Wells commissions, produces and presents more dance than any other theatre in the world, embracing the popular and the unknown. Since 2005, it has helped to bring over 170 new dance works to the stage, many of them involving its 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today. 


Sadler’s Wells nurtures the next generation of talent through a number of artist development initiatives and reaches over 30,000 annually through its learning and engagement programmes.


Located in Islington, north London, Sadler’s Wells’ current building is the sixth to have stood on site since entrepreneur Richard Sadler first established the theatre in 1683. The venue has played an illustrious role in the history of theatre ever since, with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and English National Opera having all started at Sadler's Wells.

Sadler’s Wells is to open an additional mid-scale venue in east London in 2022. The new space will be at the heart of the East Bank project, a new cultural and education district in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, which will also include BBC, UAL’s London College of Fashion, UCL and the V&A in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. As well as a 550-seat auditorium, Sadler’s Wells’ new venue will include a choreographic centre and a hip-hop theatre academy, the first of their kind in the world to be run by a theatre.


About Project O  

Project O make dances to dance themselves out of the desire for and expectation of an aesthetic assimilation that upholds a system of white supremacy that is at once subtle, blatant and all pervasive. Project O is the performative fruits of conversations between the London-based duo Jamila Johnson-Small and Alexandrina Hemsley who look to the body as a site of politics, considering the tangible yet often ignored impact of a colonial history in the UK today, and the tendency towards fetishisation, exoticisation and fear of the other. The work intends to expose some of the structural workings of racism and misogyny and their impact on bodies, sparking debate and pushing for conversations about how to live with agency - and a sense of a future - amongst these painful and uncomfortable histories. Tearing at the edges of contemporary dance since 2010, Project O has made dances for the stage (O), performative interventions in public spaces (Be Your Black Girlfriend), choreographies for bodies that are not their own (SWAGGA), a performance lecture (Benz Punany), a school (The New Empowering School) and a publication (A Contemporary Struggle).

Project O are residents at Somerset House Studios, Associate Artists at Dance Research Studios and were awarded the Artsadmin Artist Bursary in 2014. Their work has been presented at Southbank Centre, Somerset House, British Dance Edition, British Council Edinburgh Showcase 2015, Chisenhale Dance Space, The Yard and Chelsea Theatre, amongst others. 


About Jamila Johnson-Small 

Jamila Johnson-Small makes dances and works to create spaces (on stage, in corners, on screens, in rooms, in bodies, on pages) with no single direction and no clear intentions, harbouring no desire to be useful other than to make gestures towards decentralised power and non-hierarchical structures for existing. Her practice looks to disengage with cultural systems of value that direct and inform style and in which they find no interest or agreement. Jamila is interested in surfaces, structures and the space/tension between things. 


Her practice is always relational, moving across spaces, contexts, roles and collaborations. Often working under the name Last Yearz Interesting Negro, regular collaborators include Fernanda Muñoz-Newsome, Shelley Parker and Phoebe Collings-James. Working with dramaturgies of sculpture, electronic music, overwhelm, syncopation, internal narratives, texture, words, trance states, a public and always dancing, to build atmospheric landscapes through the live unfolding of the tensions between things that produce meaning, resultant choreographies are stagespace/dreamscape/battleground, working through questions of entanglement, alienation and sensation. 


Thinking cumulatively, the work gathers and transmits information through inviting others in, crafting compositions in various constellations that build spaces for dancing, performance, conversation and reflection, spaces that might hold the multiple and contradictory, spaces that consider movement and transformation as inevitable. A big part of their research is towards making space to be together without having to assimilate. Choreographic space is considered as social situation in order to facilitate immersive, emergent spaces for performer/s and spectator/s. 


About Alexandrina Hemsley 

Alexandrina Hemsley (UK) is a dance artist and writer. Her practice is shaped by and insists on embodied enquiries into a multiplicity of voices expressing felt and embodied politics. She works across the morphing disciplines of live art, dance, dance for camera, theatre, mentoring, creative and critical writing. She is interested in liminal spaces, connectivity, fracturing, displacement and emotionality. She is continually attempting to conjure intersecting, gentle noise amidst oppressive silencing. Engaging with the wider concern of bringing attention to subjectivity and multiplicity over objectification, Alexandrina's practice voices her experiences through an interdisciplinary process of attempting to undo structural and internalised marginalisation and colonialism. It is a life-long project. 

Alongside her collaboration with Jamila Johnson-Small, she also choreographs with Seke Chimutengwende (2016 onwards) on a new work Black Holes. 


Her critical writing and poetry has been published by Sick of The Fringe, an introduction into Selina Thompson's Salt (Faber & Faber), SPILL Festival and new publication exploring queering the future, Hereafter (Unbound). Recent publishing includes The Silver Bandage (Bookworks) and LADA's Live Art Almanac Vol. 5.


Alexandrina is Associate Artist at Cambridge Junction, a board member of Chisenhale Dance Space and Dance Ireland’s 2020 International Associate Artist. 



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...