Friday, 10 October 2014

Shake Showcase #5 @ Rich Mix London

The blue Shake banners pinned to the walls, clipboards and notes flurrying about, groups of Shake participants deep in concentration rehearsing their lines on stage or tucked away in corners,  sound-checks, mic-checks, warm embraces to old Shake friends being made.. it’s that time again…

 On Tuesday 7th October we hosted our 5th Shake! Showcase at Rich Mix London.  Teaming up with our family at NUMBI, the show was based on the August Shake! Intensive Course, “HeadSpace”, and shakers came from far and wide to perform their art and share their political insight and ideas with the public.

During the course in August, the participants used a variety of poetic, musical and filmic tools to dig deep and critically respond to the central theme of “HeadSpace”. Having created a wealth of original artistic work,  the showcase offers an extension to the week of radical learning, and gives a platform where the participants can express their creativity to an audience.

The hosts Cizz, Tasnima & Edwina 
Performing to a full house, our hosts Cizz, Tasnima and Edwina took us on a journey through poetic lyricism, thoughtful rhymes, sweet melodies, and engaging documentary film. Shakers old and new performed, extending the family and widening our community.

Young people that had never been on stage before bravely stood in the spotlight and read their poetry to the 160 people in the audience, followed by a loud chorus of heart-felt applause each time.  Young people that had never made a film before premiered their documentary, followed by a professional panel discussion and Q & A with the filmmakers and audience.  

In conversation with the filmmakers 

The dynamic mixture of performances and contagiously good vibes and spirit meant that the show was funny, thought-provoking, inspiring, and deeply profound – with all of the work reaching an incredibly high-standard. Everybody left with a huge smile on their faces, buzzing with energy and positivity. 

The showcase not only gives the participants a chance to exhibit their creative work, it also serves as an opportunity to engage the public in the social and environmental issues covered at the Shake! Course, and uniquely, from a youth voice. The spectators get the chance to view these topics through the Shake lens of art,
Spoken word by Mujtaba Ahmed
   media, race and power – which opens up new    ways of seeing and understanding to more and more people. 

The effectiveness of the show can be summed up by the way one girl came up to me at the end of the performances and said “you’re definitely gonna see me up there next time...” She, like many others there, had caught the Shake bug.

Watch out for Shake! Showcase #6…. You really don’t want to miss it.

Saara J-R

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Shake! well-being skills pool: Top tips for surviving the system

Here are some of the Shake!r's top tips for countering and surviving the system:

The importance of finding and defining community, and the coming together of like-minded people through ideas.

co-operation = good!
oppressing your friends = not so good...

We must maintain awareness that there is a dominant narrative, and question whose interest it serves to maintain the status quo and accept norms and existing power structures… And then, we must challenge these! For instance, through:
-> music
-> youth work
-> alternative education
-> graffiti
-> group facilitation
-> the internet (non mainstream media)
-> independent film
-> things like SHAKE!
Check out Orla's poem
combating gender marketing from a young age:
'just for humans'
Despite what the education system tells us, knowledge is not always gained through written word. Education is in the experience; you can't just go somewhere to 'get educated.' Check out the trailer for the short film soon to be released, co-created by some of the Shake!rs and NuWave Pictures:

Finding ways to stay strong and remain positive. Annie Rockson shared with us a helpful tool from her new book for combatting stress:

Step one, work out the root of your stress:
1. Emotional (how you feel) - scared, sad, etc
2. Behavioural (how you behave) - addiction, procrastination, etc
3. Environmental (your surroundings) - family, work, friends, etc
 4. Physical (bodily) - bad diet, poor posture, lack of exercise etc

Step two, work out why you feel like this:
1. What is the perceived stress?

Then, you must choose the course of action most suitable for the occasion:
                               Fight, or flight! 

   (or find some other Shake!rs for a group hug…hugs are always good)
The importance of reclaiming inaccessible spaces and creating safe spaces. Spaces have memory: they are more than a material construct, they have spirit and we must challenge the removal of community spaces. Here's a poem by Zena doing just that:

And last, but most certainly not least, we must - unite, resist and stay resilient!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Event: Shake Showcase no.5 - #Headspace

Following an intense Shake! summer course at Bernie Grant Arts Centre.  We are back! This time we explored issues of well-being, activism, power & privilege, and mental health and so much more Our next showcase might just be our best one yet! Hosted by afropunk collective Numbi Arts, the event will take place at
Rich Mix
Oct 7th 
Doors open at 6:30pm

We are lucky to have an explosive line-up of poets: Adaobi, Connie Iloghalu, Dami, Cizz Centrik, Haneen Hammou, Iqra Shazad, Tasmia Salim, Tito Mogaji-Williams, and Will Sayer. Also  are excited to welcome back returning Shakers Annie Rockson, Nathaniel Chapman, Holly , Lateef, Mujtaba Ahmed and Orla Price. As usual, they will be joined on stage by in-house talent Zena Edwards and Sai Murray.

We will be hosting the premier of the latest Shake film, a documentary about failing education in the UK. Our film crew includes Anisa Rashid, Ary Surendran, Carmen Hoang, Dhelia Snoussi, Ezhilojan Jeyakumar, Isla Munro, Olivia Kamara, Maria Kelly, Maria Gous, Amrin, Nadia Nafakh, Sonia Padia, Tilly Ottley-Matthew and Zaieda Coker. The film was co-produce by Nuwave Pictures’ Dershe Samaria and Patrice Etienne.

 Joining us will be musician and poet Marcina Arnold & shake!r Zareeen. Happy to have Dj Zhao in the mix, and the Numbi Family Drumdancesong Poetic Jam Session.

Tickets for the event are £5 and available via Rich Mix box office: 02076137498, Concessions are available just email

See you there!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Holly: Some reflections on #Headspace.

It's no surprise to hear that things have been Shaken right up once again!

The 5th Shake! intensive course began with a dive straight into the deep end, with the group discussing some of the impacts that capitalism has on society, the education system, and our relationships. This Shake! intensive focused on Headspace: from the repercussions of social media, to the influence that dominant narratives have upon the way things are viewed, to the importance of challenging these narratives, reclaiming inaccessible spaces and creating our own safe spaces. The discussion focused on how each topic affects our mental and physical well-being, and how to avoid the harms of these.

Just a few of the fabulous talks throughout the week included: an amazing lecture by Esther Stanford-Xosei speaking about Birthing Social Change: how the way in which we are birthed affects our capacity to love and the traumas our communities can inherit.

An inspiring talk from Platform's Jane Trowell focused on many things including the importance of dialogue and solidarity between different fields, race, class, age and religion, that any solutions we seek will be found through collaboration. Our activism "we must out last and out wit those who do not want to listen," because it's a long game we are playing.

Josetta Malcolm gave an eye-opening session on  Black LBGTQI communities mental health. Paula Serafini gave another fascinating talk all about art and activism; the challenging and appropriating of space for political goals and culture as a struggle of resistance.

Themes that kept popping up throughout the week included the absolute necessity for resilience and unity, the need for alternative methods of education, and the need for dialogue.

With a combination of lovely, passionate, interesting , talented people and fascinating workshops, the week has been inspiring, engaging, exhausting and exhilarating all at once - it has been my first time as a Shake! facilitator and it certainly won't be my last - I am eagerly looking forward to the next one already.

A more detailed run down of the weeks events will follow shortly, including sneak peeks into some of the poetry and, if you are lucky perhaps a snap shot or two of the film work to tempt and tickle and tide you over until the very exciting showcase so... Watch... This... Space...!

Big love, Holly x

Friday, 29 August 2014

Farzana: 'I am hopeful'

Feeling so moved by all the remarkable creative and critical young people I get to work with and learn from. Shake! last week, as per usual, blew me away. It's always just too much! Today is also the last day of a summer program I have been coordinating with young women in my community and of course they too completely smashed it.

I can't help but be hopeful for the future, especially for gender and race relations, despite the state of everything in this world telling us otherwise. How can there be so many imaginative, fierce and self-empowered young people and people of colour and things remain the same?

I pray and hope that the relentless injustices they face does not wither away their zeal for bringing about powerful and transformative change. Or that the day-to-day sickness inflicted by capitalism and patriarchy does not wear away at the rigorous challenging and questioning they have embarked on.

Equally, I hope that us as facilitators, educators, artists, activist or in whatever we do, we are always working to cultivate engaged and embodied spaces for young people, esp for young women and people of colour. And that these spaces always bring in and considerately hold the marginalised in our communities, in the way that any sense of other-ing only comes from a place of self-distinguished autonomy and affirmed identity and not ever from a sense of not belonging. More over, that these spaces are forever unapologetically gentle while stringently equipping us for the long fight in dismantling unfair power structures and working towards justice.

I am hopeful!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Shake! Update: Black Women Scientist Inspires Us!

We start all Shake! mornings with a few inspirations shared by participants. Today we had Anisa telling us about a space scientist that inspires her: Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Aderin-Pocock is a space scientist, mechanical engineer, and science communicator. Anisa tells us her story; Maggie is inspiring because she was the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, bouncing from one area of the country to the other, never able to find her own place. She was also diagnosed with dyslexia, which meant she had to overcome certain challenges while she was at school. Luckily she found science, something she was good at and made her feel better about herself. Then she found space science, and was able to follow her love for the stars and outer space. Space was great because, in her own words.

“Growing up in London at that time, I was a black kid in a mainly white area and I often got teased… Although I had never been to Nigeria, I was scared that if I said ‘I’m British’ the other kids would say, ‘No, you’re not’. You’re black, you’re not from here’. That led me to feeling a bit lost, like I did not belong here or there. That’s why space was brilliant: space was all-encompassing”.

Anisa remembers the first time she saw Maggie on a school trip and how inspired she was because she was the first black woman in a field which is traditionally seen as for privileged white men. But besides her strength and the fact that she overcame all these challenges in her life in order to achieve her goals, Anisa also finds Maggie Aderin-Pocock inspiring because of her commitment to giving back to others. She believes that being in a position of privilege comes with the responsibility of helping others realize their full potential, and for that reason speaks about science to school children and particularly hard to reach audiences.

We think her work is very inspiring! Anisa perfectly sums up the lesson she takes away from Maggie, with a Toni Morrison Quote:

"When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.'

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

HeadSpace Update: Challenging narratives and creating new stories & spaces

It's the second day of the Shake #Headspace course, and we're deep in discussions around narratives.  We started exploring building our own narratives and conceiving how we can challenge  power and dominant narratives with our own stories.

Yesterday we discussed issues of power and who has the control over dominant narratives in our society. Analysing how issues of class, race, gender, ableism, sexuality and age intersect in the uneven distribution of power and political voice in society. We heard from wonderful guests including Esther Stanford, Sai Murai, Jane Trowell, Orla Price and Josetta Malcolm who shared with us alternative narratives on issues of mental health, inequality, commodification of the body, race, and LGBTQI experiences.

 Questions we have been asking ourselves over the past two days: Who does our story serve? Whose interest is it in? What is the cultural value of a story? What does it take to craft a story? What is our responsibility to the story espeically when we speak on behalf of the other?

Responses that came through were issues around identity and belonging quickly came to mind, and also the idea of a story as a way of passing on rituals and reproducing a sense of community. Others saw stories as a way of presenting and constructing truth, but also possibly as propaganda.  We appreciated how stories are a form of catharsis, and as the visualization or projection of dreams and ideals. Devices like a structure and framework, empathy and reliability and a clear message help us craft the story.

Throughout the next three days Shake participants will be working in either film or poetry, fully engaging with their medium of choice and creating their own stories. As always we are excited to see the powerful art that will come out of this week.