Hip Hop Dance Theatre Production Born to Exist forms the third part of Joseph Toonga’s nationally acclaimed trilogy which includes Born to Manifest and Born to Protest. Joseph’s work seeks to change and oversome stigmas that society holds towards ethnic minorities by analysing representation, with an intersectional focus, to show untold, underrepresented, individual stories.
Joseph combines his research with his own experiences, and those of the cast, to manifest what it means to be a human with all its ugliness, beauty, contradictions and complexity. Joseph’s process uses his choreographic style as a conduit for trauma, which enters a through a vacuum to become movement that is shared with audiences.
As with the previous two works in the trilogy, this work brings together a powerhouse of creatives with lighting design by Simisola Majekodunmi, an original score from Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and dramaturgy by Peggy Olislaegers.
Born to Manifest and Born to Protest have toured the UK and internationally to critical acclaim.
Alongside this theatre production Joseph is supporting and collaborating with three black Brazilian female creatives, Clau Mayã, Emmanuele Uereaua and Fernanda Campos, to establish a social programme in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The programme called ‘Young, Gifted & Black’ is supported by Just Us Dance Theatre (of which Joseph is Artistic Director) and works to support and empower low-income black female teenagers from the favelas in Rio.
Originally from Cameroon, Joseph Toonga was raised in East London. He is currently Emerging Choreographer In Residence with The Royal Ballet. Born to Protest and Born To Manifest were performed at the Linbury in April this year and in November the premiere of a new work will feature on the main stage as part of the Royal Ballet’s Diamond Celebration alongside new works by Pam Tanowitz, Valentino Zucchetti and CHristopher Wheeldon.
Alongside extensive teaching and independent commissions, Joseph runs his dance company ‘Just Us Dance Theatre’, a collective founded 2007 where he has established an international Artist Development Programme in Brazil and the UK’s first annual Hip Hop Apprenticeship initiative. He is also co-founder of artist-led hip-hop initiative ‘Artists4Artists’.
Born to Exist is co-produced with Theatre Boulevard, commissioned by The Place & DanceEast, supported by Just Us Dance Theatre, Redbridge Drama Centre, South East Dance and the Arts Council England.