West Sussex performer’s comedic dance piece explores the life of a millennial

Ella Fleetwood
Ella Fleetwood

A West Sussex dancer and choreographer is looking forward to the London premiere of her new work.

Ella Fleetwood, who grew up in Duncton and attended St Philip Howard in Barnham, was commissioned by the University of Chichester to create the work, which she did in Chichester last summer.

Since then, it has toured, offering a number of sharings – events which encouraged feedback. Now it is ready to be unveiled in London through Ella’s own company ella&co.

Called #nofilter, it explores millennial life in a comedic and zesty piece of dance theatre, Ella promises. You can catch it on Saturday, January 13, as the final piece in a triple-bill opening a large contemporary dance festival at The Place at Kings Cross, one of London’s biggest contemporary dance studios.

“Transferring our performative online personas onto the performative stage setting, the show is bright, zesty and at times touchingly tender as we journey through the confessions of a millennial,” Ella said.

“I was commissioned by a project based in Chichester to create the work. It is called the GradLab project, which is supported by Arts Council England, University of Chichester, University of Winchester and The Point.

“I auditioned three dancers and made a new quartet. I also dance in the piece. I wanted to make something that felt relevant to being a young person, age 22 at the moment. I am really fascinated by millennials. The piece is comedic and loud and really bright. It takes you through the experience of being on your phone. It takes you through fast snapshots of different movements and meanings and texts. It’s like an assault on your senses in terms of referencing the different things that we see and we experience. It’s a look at millennial life and the fact that you can laugh about it and enjoy it but also realise that there are some problems with it.

“I made the piece in the summer. Since then we have been touring with it, doing sharings at the University of Chichester and the University of Winchester and also Bournemouth. Now we are premiering it in London.”

Ella is delighted to have secured such a prestigious place to launch it in the capital – a place, The Place, which has also been important to Ella personally.

“I grew up in Duncton, just outside Petworth, on a farm there. I am a typical farm girl, but I have now followed in my parents’ footsteps. They are farmers, but I just always wanted to dance. I started at the age of 12, which is quite unusual. Usually people start dancing at the age of two. But when I started, I just fell in love with it and the fact that I could do whatever I wanted. Contemporary dance offers such a huge range of options and experiences.

“I went to St Philip Howard in Barnham, but when I was 16, I got chosen for a prevocational scheme at The Place, which is where we are performing in January. I used to go up every Saturday to do intensive training. Then I did my A levels and went to Trinity Laban, a big dance conservatoire in London and graduated in 2016 with a first-class degree. I loved my time there. It was so wonderful. I learnt so many things. I was really nurtured as a dancer but also as a choreographer and a teacher. I had a great time there.”

More details on www.ellaandco.org.

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