INSiGHTZ: An Insight into YOUR dance journey with Lee Griffiths
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: Green Room Hippodrome Theatre 8th March 2019
1.Tell us about yourself. What do you do and what is your main dance style you work in?
My name is Lee Griffiths and I am a dance producer working within hip-hop dance Theatre. I was originally a dancer working in the community. I was working with Botis Seva and Joseph Toonga. I started making my own work and started a company called 'The Company'. When I fell pregnant with my son I started taking on producing full time.
2.Why dance? What or who initially inspired you to begin your dance journey?
I grew up in Cornwall and there isn't a lot there. Everything took you to go 45 minutes away in a car. What sparked me to get into dance was the lack of technology and there was nothing to do. There was a village hall [in my neighbourhood] they only offered dance classes. I did Modern, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop. What inspired me to start was because there was nothing in my community.
3.Where were you 5 years ago? (e.g. career, dance lifestyle, journey)
5 years ago I was performing full time with 'Far From The Norm' dance company, with Botis. I was making my own work, I was presenting work in Spain, at The Place, Greenwich, RichMix, Sadlers Wells. I was really pursuing my career as a dancer and choreographer and not as a producer.
4.Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
In 5 years time I see myself doing exactly what I see myself doing now but with purpose and with more resources. Then being able to support more people than I am doing now through Artist 4 Artist but on a bigger scale.
5. What challenges have you faced so far along your dance journey/practice?
There's been a lot of challenges. 1 is the fact of motherhood. I was in a career as a dancer and choreographer that was very active and there is a massive misconception that when you have a child you can just continue, and I couldn't just continue. I tried and I performed 6 weeks after I gave birth. There's no support there. What happens when we as women have to take that career break there is no funding. Organisations don't put any childcare costs in. It's a big problem.
[And 2] Also accessing information in the hip-hop community we are at a disadvantage to gain insight into the industry that contemporary conservatoires teach. Because we don't have a university or a school so where do we go to access that information. So I felt a lot and I had to learn a lot through failing. So motherhood and resources.
6.What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement so far was 'Black Dog' with Botis. It was presented at Sadler Wells and it received free standing ovations in the main house. It wasn't just the hip-hop community, just people [general public]. You are sat next to people who are talking about your work and they don't realise who you are. Wow this [Black Dog] piece touched people. That is my biggest achievement to date.
7.If you could go back in time, what would you tell your young 16yr old self?
I would tell my young 16-year-old self that you do not need to go to a conservatoire. When I was 16 years old I had this massive misconception that if I didn't go to Urdang, The Place or London Studio Centre, I couldn't be working in the industry. Actually I know a lot of people who went to university and aren't doing dance and people who went to university, to those conservatoires, and aren't doing dance either. It's about how much you grind and work. 16 year old self you need to work harder.
8.What advice would you give to the younger (creative) generation?
My advice for the younger generation is that it's not going to come easy. You can't give up on the first hurdle. It's about what you have access to and working around up over and underneath things. Also understanding that not everyone is going to like your work, not everyone is going to want to work with you and it's not a personal thing. You just need to find where you belong within this massive web of the dance industry.
9.How do you stay focused, positive and motivated throughout your practice/training?
How I stay driven is through time. I will allocate myself e.g. 'You've got 1 hour on the laptop' so I don't sit and procrastinate. With a child you can't do that. So it's been efficient with your time, which has made me more driven.
10.Random… But what do you do in your free time? When you aren’t in dance/work mode?
I go back to Cornwall and spend time with my family soon as I have any free time. I go back home and switch the laptop off. Switch work off and just be a sister, be a daughter, be a mum. I like going swimming, going to the park. For me personally is watching a good movie or binge watching, something that I don't need to overstimulate myself, because the work [being a producer] is quite heavy.
Bonus question (Optional): Any last few comments or words of encouragement for our inspired readers?
Don’t work in isolation. Chat to your peers, also reach out to people via email, or with [dance] pioneers. Don't be afraid to have that conversation. I'm sure people [artists] will sit with you for 10 minutes in a day and have a coffee with you. It's about not being scared and having conversations.
Thank you to Lee for taking part in our INSiGHTZ series 1
Learn more about Lee current work with Artist4Artist
Stay posted for next weeks INSiGHT interview - Fridays 7pm
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