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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

#MYDanceDNA with Zoo Nation's Kate Prince.

Establishing the connection with the creative mind behind some of Britain's top contemporary choreographers is very inspiring and one of the most important elements to capture in the Dance sector. Dance Umbrella has created a digital series, #MYDanceDNA a new live and online conversation which allows this platform to happen.The series of interviews will give the opportunity to talk to five leading UK choreographers who heavily influence our Dance scene in the UK today. The artists will discuss the moments of both dance and movement on film that have transfixed and transformed the ideas in their head to the pieces of Dance we see on stage or film. 
In it's first one hosted at the Birmingham Hippodrome, we were given an insight into what has made British Hip Hop Dance Company, Zoo Nation so successful with the help of Artistic Director Kate Prince. Their work covers five different areas but their main focus of creating pieces of full-length narrative Hip Hop Dance Theatre is presented by the Zoo Nation Dance Company. 

Kate Prince described her influences heavily stemmed from the musicals she loved watching growing up, emulating things from the likes of the Dream Sequence in the 1952 film, Singin' In The Rain as well as anything and everything Janet Jackson. She mentioned that the synchronised movement from 'Rhythm Nation' was a particular turning point for her. She enjoyed creating dance pieces that told stories with the addition of music and dance. However, Musical Theatre felt like it became cheesy and she wanted to create new and provoking ideas in her dance work, whilst maintaining some of the bare bones that Musical Theatre are based on.

Kate Prince says it was clear from the beginning of her creative career that "I am not a dancer, I wanted to be a choreographer. I like being bossy" and remembers fondly of creating dance sequences for her friends. Zoo Nation itself came from the idea that there wasn't a platform for a specific style of dance that Kate was doing through her commercial dance work, she saw what Bounce Sweden were doing in their part of the world and wanted to see what platform she could then create.


Zoo Nation has developed into undoubtedly one of the most exciting companies out there in the UK right now. Known for it's many well received and loved pieces including the likes of 'Mad Hatters Tea Party', 'Into The Hoods' 'Some Like It Hip Hop' to name a few. With her work she has a defined idea of it being thought provoking, new and exciting but more importantly to give her audience a good time. It's also important for her as the Artistic Director to feel challenged by her new works on a individual basis, whether that's on it's subject topic to the different layers to create the full-length pieces. 

In Kate's career one of the works which she believes was the most influential of her career so far was 'Into The Hoods', a funky take on the fairytale Into The Woods that was first presented 10 years again but remains a unforgettable production from the company. It's a funny and silly piece that mashed up and combined a lot of the main storyline but gave it a new layer of music which made it modernistic and exciting to it's audiences.
"I want us to be respected like Rambert one day!" 

Zoo Nation are definitely a company who have since made the way for a platform for street and hip hop, for young dance artists to be inspired and like "yes I can do this" and be supported in the sector that continues to flourish with many other artists and platforms across the UK too. Kate Prince wanted her company to be "respected like Rambert one day" and I definitely feel like this has happened for them. 

Kate's personal favourite piece ever and one which she feels won't be topped would be her 2011 piece, 'Some Like It Hip Hop'. Influenced by her favourite musical 'Some Like It Hot' it took on the idea of misogyny and equality through the Hip Hop Culture, in particularly with the presence of a female body. Her research taking on the lyrical context and styles heavily shown in the style.

So what can we expect next from Zoo Nation and Kate Prince? She spoke about her most recent research project, centred about the Suffragettes and Votes for Women. In a time where we are seeing how politics are heavily influencing the voices and conversations in young people and society generally have never been more obvious. Also it'll be 100 years since Votes For Women were established in the UK so I am excited to see where this political influence will take her creatively and visually. 

The #MYDanceDNA was a great conversation, really interesting way of gaining an insight choreographically as well as her influences to the Dance industry as a female choreographer. If you'd like to engage with the next digital conversation then I would definitely check out the Dance Umbrella Twitter as well as the hashtag!

I'll leave you with a snippet of some of Zoo Nation's work for you to enjoy!



thanks for reading,





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