INSiGHTZ: An Insight into YOUR dance journey with Vicki Igbokwe
INSiGHTZ: An Inisght into…
An online series and archives with UK dance professionals sharing valuable insights within the dance industry.
Series 1 - ‘An insight into YOUR dance journey’ - Inspiring and motivating youth
Formulated by: Tamar Dixon
Disclaimer: This interview has been transcribed. Some responses are altered/edited.
Interview at: Telephone interview 11th March 2019
Vicki Igbokwe is creative director, choreographer and founder of Uchenna Dance. In addition to being the creative director and choreographer of Uchenna Dance, Vicki works as an independent choreographer, movement director, lecturer and facilitator.
She is Associate Artist at The Place, one of Europe’s most exciting, innovative dance spaces, a Trustee for One Dance UK, the UK Body for Dance, and facilitator for The Fi.ELD 2019, nurturing future innovators of dance - Uchenna Dance Founder
1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT DO YOU DO AND WHAT IS YOUR MAIN DANCE STYLE YOU WORK IN?
I am a choreographer and a creative director. I set up my dance company Uchenna dance in 2009. I look at creative choices around shows. I work as a choreographer for Uchenna dance and a choreographer and movement director independently. I am also a mentor and facilitator. The main styles I work in are House dance, Waacking, Vogue. I fuse and work with West African and a hint of South African influences and contemporary dance. Those 5 styles are my unique blend that I work with.
2. WHY DANCE? WHAT OR WHO INITIALLY INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN YOUR DANCE JOURNEY?
I've always danced since the age of 3. It is a part of my culture, my Nigerian heritage.
You dance when someone's born, you dance when it's someone's birthday, you dance when someone passes away, you dance when you are having a graduation. Dance is part of my upbringing. I became a carer for my mother at the age of 14 and so I remember that dance made me feel good it allowed me to escape from being an adult (carer) at a young age. I got my inspiration from my mum. She could move and she was definitely my inspiration. Especially how dance is so ingrained culturally.
3. WHERE WERE YOU 5 YEARS AGO? (E.G. CAREER, DANCE LIFESTYLE, JOURNEY)
I was working on the London Olympics. It was a massive job opportunity. I was working as a Mass Movement choreographer. When I lost my mother in 2009 I was very lost and I was working on autopilot. Working on the Olympics gave me my purpose again. This reminded me of the three things I love to do, empower people, entertain people, and educate people. It was a fun time but also a real defining moment of change for me.
4. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS TIME?
5 years time I want Uchenna dance to be a national and international touring company. We are already touring now nationally and we definitely want to keep that. Personally for myself I would love to work on large scale events. My big goal is to develop my own musical. I would love to develop Head Wrap Diaries from a theatre show to a musical, a bigger show that can be seen in the west end.
5. WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED SO FAR ALONG YOUR DANCE JOURNEY/PRACTICE?
One of the challenges for me is being a black woman in the arts. I have had real experiences where I have been overlooked and not being treated in the same way as my counterparts and peers.
... I remember breaking down crying on the phone for 1 hour. There is one thing of being mistreated, like racism and the other thing is when it IS confirmed. Wow this is part of my reality. I don't let those things get me down. I break the glass ceiling and walk through and show up. When I find challenges like that, in the end I use that as fuel. With being a black woman there is already a preconceived notion about you. And as a way of overcoming that…you've got to make the work you want to make and show up. I am who I am. At the end of the day people will naturally gravitate towards you.. Even Beyonce has haters. I can't be and do for everyone.
Its about me and my team.
6. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
There's been so many! The one that encapsulate all of the things is still being here, still being around. I have not thrown in the towel. Uchenna celebrates 10 years this year. My gosh this company has definitely grown.
7. IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNG 16YR OLD SELF?
I would tell her to breath and just put one foot in front of the other. And to know that it is all going to be OK. Being yourself should be the most easiest thing to do in ourselves. But actually it's one of the hardest. To turn up in a room and be authentically you actually takes a lot of guts.
You are enough.
8. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER (CREATIVE) GENERATION?
You have to do things you enjoy. Just have fun and enjoy. We are all looking online or looking on Twitter.. And comparing. But you must win your own race and really explore who you are as an artist. Don’t worry about anyone else.
9. HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED, POSITIVE AND MOTIVATED THROUGHOUT YOUR PRACTICE/TRAINING?
I ground myself around people who I aspire to be around. Sometimes you need to disconnect for a couple of hours. And to also keep my personal life balanced (with work) and be in harmony between the two.
10. RANDOM… BUT WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? WHEN YOU AREN’T IN DANCE/WORK MODE.
I hang out with friends and visit my friends /cousins kids. It allows me to switch off. I like reality TV not because I think it is good but because I actually think is quite bad. I would happily watch reality TV and relax, laugh. I like reading about motivation, novels.
BONUS QUESTION (OPTIONAL): ANY LAST FEW COMMENTS OR WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR OUR INSPIRED READERS?
Just learn to love you, with your flaws. Non of us are perfect. It all starts with you. Start accepting who you are.
Thank you to Vicki for taking part in our INSiGHTZ series 1
Learn more about Vicki and her company Uchenna Dance
Stay posted for next weeks INSiGHTZ interview - Fridays 7pm
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