Choreographer Joseph Toonga works at the forefront of Hip Hop in the UK and internationally. He describes himself as being in a continual search for an authentic reason to choreograph, and frequently draws on real life stories which make his work resonate with people under-represented in audiences for mainstream arts. Originally from Cameroon and living in East London, Joseph rose to prominence on the wave of the exciting British Hip Hop scene. His authentic dance performances and widely admired artist development work have encouraged artists and companies from the wider mainstream (eg Hofesh Schechter, Richard Alston and Bush Theatre) to collaborate with him. In 2021, Joseph was welcomed to the Royal Ballet as Emerging Choreographer on a two year creative development programme which provides creation opportunities with dancers from one of the world’s leading ballet companies, mentoring from Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, and shadowing opportunities with the Company’s associated and visiting international choreographers.
Joseph Toonga‘s latest piece is Born to Exist, the final part of his acclaimed Hip Hop dance trilogy that aims to challenge racial stigma. Born to Exist analyses representations of women of colour through the individual stories of immigrants to the UK, and draws on the collected experiences of the five-strong female cast and Joseph’s memories of growing up with resilient, independent-minded female relations. Joseph Toonga uses his activist choreographic style to go beyond the cultural trope of the “strong black woman” to dismantle presumptions about female physicality, and invite change. Born to Exist will premiere in the second half of 2021.
Following its phenomenal touring record in 2021, Toonga’s outdoor work Born to Protest is also on the road. Exploring the hypersensitivity of the black male figure, five dancers create an intense energy performing en masse to Hip Hop beats.
Upcoming Dates (all for Born to Protest, except otherwise stated):
14 & 15 May Brighton Festival
25-27 May Tête-à-Tête Rastaat, Germany
21 June Tanz|Moderne|Tanz Chemnitz, Germany
22 June Tanz|Moderne|Tanz Chemnitz, Germany Born to Manifest.
24 & 25 June Birmingham International Dance Festival
2 July Hat Fair Winchester
8 July Summer in the Park Greenwich Park London
31 July Gallions Reach Park, Thamesmead London
16 July Bell Square Hounslow
27 August Pavilion Theatre grounds Worthing
17 September Lancashire Encounter Preston
More dates to be added. Check back for details.