Trailblazers Showcase 2017

Sara Dos Santos © Paige Courtney Photography

Date: 10 May 2017
Time: 8 pm
Location: The Place, London
To book visit:

Presenting a mixed bill programme featuring three of the UK’s finest dance artists specialising in dance of the African Diaspora. Through a range of styles, Adesola Akinleye, Ithalia Forel, and Sara Dos Santos (Neriah Kumah Legacy Gift recipient) will be exploring a variety of topical themes.

Thank you for joining us on Wednesday 10 May 2017 at The Place for our Trailblazers Showcase performance, featuring original pieces by our two 2016 – 2017 Trailblazers Champion Fellows – Adesola Akinleye and Ithalia Forel, joined by guest artist, Sara Dos Santos.

Audience reaction to the performance was extremely positive and we are grateful to The Place for its continuing support in providing such an important platform for artists working in Dance of the African Diaspora (DAD) and to our distinguished Trailblazers alumna, Akosua Boakye for so beautifully presenting the event from the stage. Most importantly, however, we are truly grateful for your support for being there!

We hope you found the dynamic live and screened performances enjoyable and thought-provoking, and that you will continue to support our work, as we present the cream of artists and practitioners creating work in African Diasporic dance styles. We’re always interested in improving what we offer our audiences, we would like to ask you a small favour by offering us your valued your feedback. Would you please take some time to complete the audience questionnaire by clicking here? In so doing, you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of the book Voicing Black Dance: The British Experience 1930s-1990s edited by Funmi Adewole, Dick Matchett MBE and Colin Prescod!


About the Artists

Adesola Akinleye

Dr. Adesola Akinleye began her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, and later established DancingStrong, which creates dance in the UK and internationally. Her recent dance work for adults, Untitled: Women’s Work (Flint) was an international commission by the Center for the Education of Women, USA. The project informed Adesola’s recent book chapter ‘Her life in movement: reflections on embodiment as a methodology’ in Researching Embodied Sport: exploring movement cultures edited by Dr. Ian Wellard. Additionally, Passing 2: The price of a ticket premiered this year as a duet at Duke University, USA, and then as a solo at LDIF16 in Leicester UK. Her most recent work for young audiences Light Steps premiered at the Turner Contemporary Museum, UK 2014 and has been touring UK during 2016.


Adesola is a Fellow of the RSA. She holds a PhD in dance/sociology of the body and embodiment from Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. She has a MA in Work-based learning: dance in education and the community from Middlesex University, UK. She has been a guest teacher/choreographer in a number of institutions and companies in UK, Canada and USA including Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer programmes. She is a part-time Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University. Adesola is editor of the forthcoming book Narratives from Black British Dance: Embodied practices.


Her interest in dance as a language for communication of embodied experience has led her to the Public Pedagogy of community informed starting points for art performance creation (including consulting and teaching on arts-integrated education). Her performance work has a strong conceptual strand, ranging from concert dance to site-specific to installation-based performance.

Ithalia Forel

Having gained a HND in Dance (2007) Ithalia attended the Limon Professional Studies Programme in NYC (2008). And then toured the US with CoCo Theatre Company, directed by Cynthia Oliver in the production “Rigidigidim De Bambe De: Ruptured Calypso.” A piece that explored Afro-Anglo Caribbean identity. Ithalia has 10 years’ experience in teaching and working on International exchange programmes. In 2009 Ithalia became a Trailblazer Starter.


As founder of Movema, she is passionate about providing access to World dance, breaking down barriers with knowledge, culture and showing how it can be fun.  Movema recently won the EPIC award for outstanding work with young people and have previously organised a youth trip to Brazil, enabling young people to understand themselves, their heritage and the power of dance. Previously Ithalia has won awards for Business Female of Year and for Creative Arts Organisation of the year with Movema. Since becoming a Trailblazer, Ithalia says she recognised her role within the sector, which she believes is to enable others to experience, learn and to understand and value DAD.


Ithalia sees her role as a Trailblazer Champion primarily as an enabler of young artists to achieve their goals and she is proud of her track record for developing and discovering new dance talent and ways of improving access to world dance. Also proud of her Liverpudlian and Caribbean roots, The Movema director is hoping her Trailblazer champion position will allow more opportunities to explore her passion for culture, dance and education.

Sara Dos Santos

Following a successful career as a performer Sara commenced choreographing in 2011/2012.

As an independent movement artist and choreographer share has worked with a variation of companies and artists across the globe. At present Sara is Artistic Director of East London Youth Dance Company and Associate Lecturer at Bucks New University. 

Sara’s current artistic focus is researching philosophies and exploring methodologies that interweave dance theatre, therapy and creative workshops. With this, she aims to develop thought-provoking performances that raise awareness, as well as developing educational workshops that equip participants through dance and creative arts to change a mind-set towards modern day slavery.