Toussaint to Move: A Musician’s Life in Pandemic
Tuesday 1st September 2020
Just as Covid-19 Pandemic started to get serious I was looking forward to a week of performing my dance show, Windows of Displacement at the Vault Festival which I had been touring for a couple of years. I had press coming and it was a really exciting time for me so it was horrible when all the performances were cancelled.
In the first month of lockdown I did very little. My partner and I spent a lot of time on our allotment. It was great to get a new perspective and take time off from the treadmill.
Since then the last few months have been quite a creative and fruitful time. I set up my own online dance classes, spent more time on my loop station and writing poetry.
I was recently approached by a dancer, Alethia Antonia, who has invited me to compose some music for a performance she is working on. Her piece is about her exploration of black womanhood and the inherited trauma around that identity. The music I’m working on is inspired by the Jamaican anthology of music. How the styles in Jamaican music developed from traditional music like mento. I was born in Jamaica and as a Jamaican artist it makes me really proud that this tiny little island and its music has spread everywhere and you can hear its influence in modern day reggae, dance hall and some hip hop.
I’ve also been collaborating with a musician friend. I made a beatbox loop and he added electric piano and guitar and then we made a dance video for it:
I had a baby in February last year and so I’ve been making plans for our future including how we can move out of the small flat we live in. An artist’s life is great but being a creative is rocky and unpredictable. I’d like to find work that is regular and reliable whilst also giving me the space and time to keep being creative.
In July I shared a video recording of my dance show, Windows of Displacement, by organising a watch party on Zoom and had over 100 people paying to view. This blew my mind. Before I would create a piece of work, connect with lots of theatres and then do a tour. I’ve realised that I can create a piece – connect with a theatre, do a performance and film it really well and then show it online. This then acts as a marketing tool and is a good way of connecting with theatres that wouldn’t have the confidence in my work as they don’t know me. I already have a great online audience so why not leverage it, especially as not all of them can come to the theatre to see my work.
I’m coming out of this period more empowered as an artist. I’ve realised it’s no longer up to the venues - I have some responsibility to get my work out there.
Watch a exceprt of a film LMN produced with Toussaint to Move in partnership with North Bristol NHS Trust at St George's Bristol. More info here.