Just Us Dance Theatre
Just Us Dance Theatre was founded in 2007 by artists Joseph Toonga, Ricardo Da Silva and Rudeen February who shared a passion for Hip-Hop dance, physical theatre, contemporary Dance and Spoken Word. They were fascinated with the rawness, compactness and precision that Hip-Hop provides and how they can fuse it with the shaping and structure more commonly used in contemporary choreography.
These are used as tools to give the company its unique expressive style, creating a unique movement vocabulary relating to a widely varied audience. The work involves nothing too clever or complex but great depth in meaning and performance.
Impressing and bringing enjoyment to every individual and creating accessible pieces appealing to audiences outside of dance as well as in dance.
Just Us aims to work around an ethos to inspire, nurture and support and aims to provide the conditions for artists to create and collaborate.
Through Just Us Dance Theatre Artist Director Joseph has established two mentoring programmes (Lets Shine Mentorship and New&Notable) to support and provide the tools and opportunities for young emerging Hip-Hop dance theatre artists to achieve their goals.
DICKSON MBI – ARTIST
World Renowned in the Hip-hop community for his Popping Skills, Powerful movement, strong personality and ability to blend popping and contemporary dance in a unique fashion.
Dickson started dancing in 2005, his main styles being Popping and the Funk styles. He has won several competitions in the UK, Europe and Asia. He has also participated in many commercial works for artists like Robbie Williams, Shalama, Basement Jaxx and many more. After meeting a contemporary dance Teacher/Mentor Stuart Thomas in 2008, he sought further training and undertook a foundation and access course in dance at Lewisham College and Manor Ballet before going on to train at London Contemporary Dance School.
He was studying at the school when the world renowned choreographer Russell Maliphant saw Dickson doing an improvisational performance at Sadler’s Wells in Breakin’ Convention in 2011 and asked Dickson to join his company. Dickson has also appeared in television commercials for Lucozade Revive and Audi Etron, both of which were choreographed by Russell Maliphant.
As well as being a member of the Russell Maliphant Company, Dickson is also part of the collective group of artist/Company called JUST US DANCE THEATRE, led by Joseph Toonga. Not only has he performed and done guest appearances for companies like Hack Ballet and Company De Calage. He also has passion for making his own works, Acting and developing the next generation of artist.
RICARDO DA SILVA – ARTIST
Ricardo Da Silva was born in Angola and raised in East London. He started dancing in secondary school from which he later went on to join East London Dance Youth Company. From there he grew an interest for contemporary dance and went to train at NewVic Sixth form College, then Lewisham College and then completed his degree at London Contemporary Dance School.
His performance experiences range nationally and internationally, working with Jonzi D (The Legend of Mike Smith), Alesha Dixon’s Street Stars (CBBC) and Street Stories Choreographer for the Royal Opera house.
As a performer he has worked with such artist as Wayne McGregor as part of the Dance futures performance at The Royal Opera House, Robert Hylton and Hofesh Schecter. Ricardo is also a member of Boy Blue entertainment and was part of their Legacy performance at Theatre Royal Stratford.
Spoken word and acting are also elements which make up Ricardo’s craft and his ambition as an artist is to use his skill set to create work that challenges societies perceptions on current topics, involving community in all aspects of his work. So far he has presented his work at Dance Aid, Live Vibe and Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
Let's Shine - Mentorship Programme
Let’s Shine Mentorship Programme The Let’s Shine mentorship program was set up in 2013 and runs in direct conjunction with Just Us Dance Theatre. The programme runs annually and is supported by Greenwich Dance, London Contemporary Dance School, NewVic Sixth Form College and Lister Community School.
The aim of the program is to help nurture and empower young performers through providing them with tools and opportunities to develop themselves as performers and artist. The program consists of: Bi-weekly practical dance workshops with various guest artists working in the current dance sector.
Monthly workshops that focus on various dance techniques, choreography exercises and self-management. Opportunities to perform in numerous professional performances outside of school hours both in and out of London.
“The ‘Lets Shine’ mentorship programme helped me grow and develop during my time at London Contemporary Dance School. Let’s Shine provided me with plenty of workshops, rehearsals and performance opportunities across the United Kingdom.”
Quote from Jamie Chapman
(Graduate from London Contemporary Dance School)
“The project provided professional experiences as participants had world-class teachers, dance studios and arts administrators and facilitators.”
Quote from Mrs H Coke (Head of Dance at Lister Community School)
Title of piece: Scratch the Surface
Choreographer: Lee Griffiths
Music credits – Title / Artist : Jane Doe / Torben Lars Sylvest
Description of your work :
The piece is about pushing the body’s limitations and experiences within the movement to draw out the raw qualities. The piece is purposely physically demanding to push the capabilities of young people.
The aim of the Let’s Shine mentorship programme is to create something for the future, by providing tools and opportunities to empower young people through dance.
Title of piece: We Stand as a Group
Choreographer: Joseph Toonga
New & Notable
New&Notable is for emerging hip hop/contemporary dance artists who have not yet presented work in a professional arena, but who show the promise and desire to want to develop themselves as artists.
The project was created in 2014 responding to the need to provide a targeted programme to identify and nurture the next generation of hip-hop dance theatre artists. This intensive programme offers a space and structure to broaden the participants knowledge of dance practice, including experiencing the breadth of dance styles and the pedagogical possibilities involved and investigate their unique style.
The programme also aims to provide a practical insight into the administrative aspect of the dance sector through sessions in securing funding,networking and self management.
The main components unique to New&Notable are –
• A personal mentor currently working within the sector – to help springboard creativity
• A ticket allowance to see work
• The application is non-exclusive and is video based, therefore opening up the opportunity to a wider spectrum of dance artists
• An honorarium for each artist
New&Notable is not about providing performance opportunities (although this does form part of it), it aims to increase the number of dance artists from hip-hop theatre backgrounds accessing, informing and leading the UK dance sector.
New&Notable enabled me for the first time to be artistically challenged and supported as an artist. – Quote from Lee Griffiths (2014 participant and Artistic Director of The Company)
New & Notable Brazil
Just Us Dance Theatre and Dance Cypher Brazil are proposing a new hip-hop development programme for 10 artists in Rio, aiming to bring together hip-hop artists and provide the opportunity for them to develop essential tools and explore choreographic devices for making hip-hop theatre over a two-week intensive with some of the UK’s leading hip-hop Theatre makers.
The programme aims to give insight into different methods of developing hip- hop work for the theatre and is targeted at not only artists who have presented work before, but artists who show the desire to develop themselves as hip-hop makers, with an open mind and willingness to be challenged outside of their comfort zones, whilst building a strong artist network.
The programme will provide the artists with a concentrated period to research, develop, exchange and challenge without any financial strains, within an environment that encourages creative growth.
During the two weeks the artists will explore:
- Relationship between music and movement
- Staging and theatre
- Conveying a concept
- Researching movement styles and finding meaning
- Network and develop new relationships with artists both based in Brazil and guests from the UK
- Looking at hip-hop within a wider context in Brazil
- Creation of a new piece, culminating in a performance
Timeline for 2019
25th – 29th November 2019 – Week 1 Artist development week at Teatro Angel Vianna
2nd – 6th December 2019 – Week 2 Creation week at Centro Coreofrafico da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro
8th December 2019 – Performances
Just Us Team
Emily Crouch – Producer / Artist
From Swansea, South Wales Emily is a strong, versatile performer and is also company/project manager for Just Us Dance Theatre, Let’s Shine mentorship and New and Notable programme Since graduating with a Bachelor Degree from London Contemporary Dance School in 2012, Emily has had the opportunity to work with artists including Rosemary Lee, Robin Dingeman and Richard Alston.
In 2012 Emily worked in France with Opera De Bauge and in 2013 was part of the Graduate Ensemble for National Dance Company Wales.
Since becoming a freelance producer in 2013, Emily has worked alongside Artistic Director Joseph Toonga to create and manage the Let’s Shine mentorship programme and New&Notable.
She has worked with The Place producing numerous outdoor events and festivals and in 2015 became producer for new hip-hop artist lead collective Artists4Artists.
Joseph Toonga – Artistic Director
Joseph Toonga originates from Cameroon but was raised in the East end of London.
He is fascinated with the rawness, compactness and precision of Hip-Hop and fusing it with shaping and structure more commonly used in contemporary choreography.
His unique vocabulary incorporates storytelling and narrative to explore and physicalise emotive themes relevant in today’s society.Joseph also runs his own dance company ‘Just Us Dance Theatre’ (JUDT), an additional collective founded 2007, to inspire, nurture and support, providing the conditions for artists to create and collaborate.
He established mentoring programmes (Let’s Shine Mentorship and New&Notable) to support and provide tools and opportunities for young Hip-Hop dance theatre artists to achieve their goals and is co-founder of artist led hip-hop initiative ‘Artists4Artists’.Commissions include:
Boston Conservatoire of Dance (2018), Middlesex University (2016), Codarts University of the Arts, Rotterdam 2016.
EDge (2015/2016), National Youth Ballet/ Bundesjugendballett (2015), Richard Alston Dance Company (2015) Touring: the UK and to Italy, France, Holland, USA.
APAP Festival, New York – 2019
Boston Conservatoire of Dance – 2018
DanceEast Associate Artist – 2018
Elephant in the black box Junior Ballet Madrid – 2018
One of four choreographers working with Hofesh Shechter on East Wall – 2018
Rural Touring Dance Initiative – 2017/2018
Masdanza tour of the Canary Islands – 2016/2017
Commission The Place and Richard Alston Dance Company’s 20th Anniversary – 2016
Best Choreography Reverb Dance Festival (New York) – 2015