Initial research took place in Dance NorthWest's Choreolab 2006*. This was followed by independent research supported by the ADAD Trailblazer Award, 2006, and the Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award, 2006. I received a small Arts Council England Grant (approx £4,500) for rehearsals for the premiere of the work in 2007. I have continued to explore the ideas and techniques that the first research processes revealed. *For footage of work generated initially during Choreolab see 'Rehearsals/Research page'


Drawing on one of the metaphor threads across Ralph Ellison's novel I was interested in how I could engage with light in terms of the stage:


‘…because I am invisible. Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form … without light, I am not only invisible but formless as well;…’ Invisible man Ralph Ellison, pgs. 6 & 7


-nake (defining self)

-light (light needs something for us to be aware of it. Light is defined by what it lights as much as what is lit is defined in light) 

Light depends on interaction with the physical >>>>

>>> light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form.

Olafur Eliasson (Your Lighthouse: Works with Light 1991 - 2004) writes 

"Light depends on interaction with the physical in order to become visible at all." Your Lighthouse pg .47 

"...because I am invisible. Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form....without light, I am not only invisible but formless as well" Ellison, Invisible Man

I was also drawn to Ingo Maurer's work. Particularly, Tableaux Chinois

During the New York research trip, I visited Maurer's studio/store in Manhattan. 


The dancer stands on stage as projected form, as shadow form (x2), and as physical form. The dance captures the multi-layer events of visibility. 


I am surprised and interested by how the eye is not necessarily drawn to the live dancer. This is even though the physical form of the dancer is the source that is creating the projected and shadow forms. The projected form of the dancer is seductive – I want to watch it even knowing it is a rendition of something else. ‘It is easier for the eye to follow’ I am told. How interesting, it is easier to engage with the projection than process the physical presence of the dancer. “…I am not only invisible but formless as well…” Ellison comments on the experience of the Black Man in the novel.



“I am interested in the process of seeing, between the discrepancy of the knowledge conveyed and the knowledge produced by real experience. I am interested in how we basically see our lives within society” Olafur Eliasson note quoted pg.53


I want to play with our assumptions of what light is doing during a concert dance choreography. My focus is "to do with the artists [dancers and myself] plotting with and against the viewer"… pg. 38. I choreograph to create moments when the audience becomes aware they are viewing (plotting against them). I use ‘light-ups’ instead of ‘black-outs’.


Light-ups between sections of the dance allow us to see everything, reminding us we are actively engaging with a kind of willing subjectivity in our passive observation of the dance.


There is a collective seeing of which we all see apart – this resonates with me as a response to the notion of extended family inherited from my Nigerian background. I want the audience to see everything (in the Light-ups) but also to know they are not seeing the same thing as people in other parts of the theatre (during the light-ups or during the performance choreography). This is because of where they are seated.


I use a stage prop of a piece of fabric that is projected on. Depending on where one is observing the dance the project and what is visible of the physical dancers and the shadows they cast differ.


The fabric begins in the first section of the dance by cutting the stage diagonally upstage right to downstage left.

In the second section, it is in a ‘V’ form

In the third and fourth sections, the ‘V' gets narrower and narrower.

The dance closes with the dancers ‘outside’ the fabric, only on the audience's side of the fabric. Thus the fabric no longer distorts them. Today in 2023 I want to change this. I am thinking of Edouard Glissant’s discussion of Transparency and Opacity, and his “We demand the right to opacity”. Today, older, I am less concerned with the impossibility of understanding and more with the space to express and respond:


to show insight and understanding.


to become aware of seeing (rather than to be seen). Older, have I moved from passive (hope to be seen) to active (see-er of myself)?



I play with taking a dance sequence and seeing how breakable it is. Looking back I am influenced by how a vibration changes from light to colour to sound to form. Each intensity changes the vibration and re-births it into some other form. Taking a movement sequence and pushing it to become another form


-       Dance it in different places

-       In a small space with someone else

-       In a corner

What emerges as new movement, what cannot be lost, and what is transformable?


What is seen of it – I ask dancers to light each other, to light themselves – so that only parts of the sequence are visible. To see the fingers move in that way – the dancer needs to move their legs in the unseen darkness of the fingers.


This leads to dances for lifts (elevator). The audience is outside of the lift (elevator) the dancer appears and disappears as doors close both under their control and automatically.


The dancers dance the sequence as a duet alone (!) – with their mirror form, with their projected form, with their shadow form.


Go somewhere else?

Find something I can’t think of – find the path, entrance  


This reflects again on opacity – the sequence is many sequences of perception or invisibility and readability.


I have continued to use these methods since 2007 to today.


I was awarded funds from the ADAD Trailblazer Fellowship to develop the work. I used the funds to take myself and a dancer in the piece Sean Graham to New York. I wanted to work on the last section of the piece. This last section spoke to the end of Ralph Ellison's novel. This is when the man in the book is in Harlem and ends up in a basement in Harlem. 

Trailer for the performance and workshops generated by the project 


Sounding - the act or process of measuring depth of a body of water. My Black body as a sac of water.

I was interested in dancing presence through the sound from/of my physical body. 

In the early research for the work, I developed a catalog of dances the man in Ellison's Novel might have participated in or been exposed to. I was particularly interested in the dances he would have encountered at university. I felt the university experience the man has shaped the trajectory to the Harlem basement that he finds himself on. In the New York research film, you can see part of the interviews I did about Stomp dancing and Black Fraternities. I was interested in working with dance that created rhythm and sound. In the 2006/7 work we explored crimping and stomping. Sounding presence.



Unarmed Exhibition Movement (a form drill team practice) - where you make sound out of body percussion to rhythms with precise movements and directions. Nesha, in the TWU 2023 cast, was an Unarmed Drill Commander in High School (for two years). She created a movement sequence that was added to the overall choreography.  

Dancing presence through the sound from/of my physical body.