Sean Graham is at the end of a year-long attachment to Talawa.
Sean Graham has been part of Talawa MAKE's SUSTAIN initiative, which seeks to embed artists in the creative industry by providing strong pathways into it, and a few footholds to keep them there.
Each year we select 3 artists or companies whose work we are excited by and who we think could benefit from extra support. Over the course of a year, we work with those artists to help take their careers to the next stage. Support is tailored to the needs of the artists, but can include:
- One-on-one meetings with the MAKE team
- Last minute rehearsal space
- Mentoring sessions with relevant industry experts
- Reading and providing feedback for funding applications
- Dramaturgical support
We're really excited to see what the future brings for Sean and his company Foreign Bodies Orchestra after his year with us. We caught up with Sean and had a chat. Here's what we talked about.
How would you describe your work in a sentence?
My work tackles the individual in context of the larger society whilst navigating its rules in order to discover identity and certainty.
What got you started with dancing and choreography?
I started dancing during my GCSE's because I thought it would be a great school period to mess around in but my teacher, Ms Binks, knew I was looking for refuge from the outside and became my trusted host in a studio safe-space.
Dance became cemented with my identity in '95 after a dance project at The Place theatre with the no-nonsense choreographer Royston Maldoom. The project was called the Tryst and looked at the Jewish Holocaust experience.
In regards to becoming a choreographer, there was never a distinction between the two to start with, a movement artist is always a creator. I started to make the distinction in 2005 when I created Buskin' Boy for Sadler's Wells, Breakin' Convention. From that point I wasn't always in what I had created and the difference then became more obvious and fulfilling as a separated skill.
Who is you biggest hero?
Alvin Ailey. Ailey made no apologies for who he was and achieved a legacy of excellence whilst staying connected to his beginnings. His iconic work, Revelations, was the deal breaker for me. Then going to New York and experiencing his company in his building was a revelation for me.
Other names I must mention are; Irven Lewis (Brothers in Jazz), Jonzi D, Loyd Newson (DV8) and Stewart Thomas (Legend).
What is your proudest achievement this year?
2018 is a battle (or party) still yet for me to endure. 2017 I partied (worked) hard. I achieved a lot of the things I wanted to achieve, triple bill, double bill and a new solo... but, the proudest thing that I was a part of was working with Cardboard Citizens, an organisation that works with people affected by homelessness and creators of professional theatre. I was employed as a choreographer for a high-end Gala with well esteemed guests like Prince William. The pride was in the commitment and hard work of the artists I was working with who had "real" life issues but gave to the project, for that time, their life.
When can we next see your work?
I'm not in a rush to be seen this year, though I am in talks for a few things which won't be in London or this continent. I'm concentrating on working with a suitable producer and manager for a sustainable future. Which I suggest every artist tries to do.
If any more local performances are happening it will be on my Instagram account and other social media. So do look out.
What does the future hold for FBO?
As we're one of the same, the Foreign Bodies Orchestra will also be developing internal structures, pursuing bolder theatrical goals which include expanding its community and education strategy whilst developing complementary partnerships.