Talking Moves Series 4 Episode 5: Breaking Through

Talking Moves | 26 November 2021

In this episode, we talk to Katie Serridge and Nafisah Baba about Breaking Through.

This episode was put together at Katie’s request, who took the initiative and emailed us offering to talk about the challenges she has been presented with as a young artist trying to break into an industry that effectively shut down only minutes after her graduation. Nafisah Baba, BBC Young Dancer 2017, joins us to share her observations of the world of work thus far.

We start off by discussing how Katie and Nafisah came to dance, the courses and training they embarked upon to prepare them for the industry and the opportunities they had to start making or performing in work pre-Covid. We reflect back on lockdown 1.0 and how it felt for them both returning to childhood bedrooms as adults.

Most performers find a need to supplement their earnings with what Nafisah described as a ‘Muggle job’ and Katie talks about how for her these dried up as cafes and theatres closed. We discuss how they now think about ‘training’ which might once have meant daily class but is now weighted towards the maintenance of strong and positive mental health. We talk about resilience, networking, the pleasures and pitfalls of social media and how best to manage it.

But these are two remarkable young women and, presented with the challenge of a global pandemic, they both set about finding creative ways to manage. Both are already making their mark on the world through their art, are politically and globally aware and have voices that are starting to be heard. Katie, along with a collective she formed at Laban, has already begun making films and sharing these in festivals and Nafisah talked about how she has enjoyed experiences of working with artists such as Akram Khan who have inspired her to break away from years of codified training.

This is no ‘woe-is-me’ episode. This is an episode filled with hope, love, care and possibility. Yes …we talk about what the industry is demanding of young dancers right now but most excitingly we talk about how these young dancers are starting to push back against that expectation and make changes in a world that, let’s be honest, is ready for the shake-up.

Who's Who

Nafisah Baba headshot in black and white

Nafisah Baba

Nafisah is a classically trained contemporary dancer.

She started dancing at the Pamela Howard School of Dance and later joined the West London School of Dance. At 16 she was awarded a DaDa and began her studies at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, where she graduated with a Trinity National Diploma in Professional Dance.

She then joined Chrysalis London, under the direction of Jodie Blemings, where her love for Contemporary dance flourished. She also gained a BA honours degree in Professional Practice at Middlesex University.

In 2017 Nafisah won BBC Young Dancer. Later that year, she joined Phoenix Dance Theatre as a Guest Artist. Prior to joining Phoenix, Nafisah was nominated for a Hospital Club Award in the Rising Star Category. Soon after, she performed in a Sadler’s Wells Triple Bill with Alesandra Seutin in Reckonings and has since enjoyed working with choreographers such as Kate Prince, Mark Baldwin, Sadé and Kristina Alleyne, Laila Diallo, Alex Whitley, Alexis Blake, Ally Green and more.

In 2019, Nafisah joined the cast of INALA, choreographed by Mark Baldwin and produced by Pietra Mello-Pittman and Ella Spira, performing at The Peacock Theatre, The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and at The Royal Albert Hall.

Nafisah joined The ZooNation Company 2019/2020, featuring in the upcoming ‘Everybody’s Talking about Jamie’ Movie (choreographed by Kate Prince), and is currently performing with the company in Message in a Bottle at The Peacock Theatre.

She has also featured in the music videos of Moss Kena, La Roux and most recently with Ellie Goulding for her first live virtually streamed performance.

Nafisah also appears in  Beyonce’s new movie ‘Black is King’.

Katie Serridge colour headshot

Katie Serridge

Katie Serridge (she/her) is an emerging queer dance artist and choreographer based in South East London. She is passionate about the power of storytelling to convey the diverse experiences of those ‘othered’ by inherited structures and societal norms, particularly championing young women’s voices through the female, feminist gaze.

Katie graduated from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with a First Class Honours Degree in 2019, before completing her postgraduate diploma at Copenhagen Contemporary Dance School. As a performer she has worked with Hagit Yakira, Lotte Sigh, Caroline Høegh, Jason Mambana and Leah Marojevic. She was selected as a choreographer for GradLab, a scheme supporting emerging artists in the South where she created pleasures in pertinent pink. Her dance film Tulips for Polly was screened at Vibra Arts Festival, 2Faced Dance, Blue Elephant Theatre and Wiltshire Creative. She is also a member of the MassHysteria Collective, a group of 12 hysterical movement artists creating transdisciplinary work for stage, gallery and digital spaces, performing at Tate Modern, V&A Lates, The Place and Colette Sadlers’ PresentFutures Digital 2021.

Photo: Larissa Pinkham Photography

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