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As part of the Dance of the African Diaspora (DAD) programme, internationally acclaimed artist Joseph Toonga (Artistic Director of Just Us Dance Theatre) presents a series of dance on screen, showcasing outstanding choreographers Jade Hackett (UK) and Renann Fontoura (Brazil) alongside an exclusive online presentation of his own work, BORN TO MANIFEST, a digital response made during Covid 19 lockdown to his earlier theatrical production ‘Born to Manifest’ (see the original trailer below).

The programme is part of the Autumn programme of Dance Insights ONLINE, presented in collaboration with One Dance UK

Key Information


Wednesday 28 October 2020 


Dance on Screen with Q&A via Youtube

Joseph Toonga commented
It has been great to develop my partnership with DanceXchange through their Dance Insights Online programme this Autumn, in the lead up to presenting my new outdoor work Born to Protest at Birmingham International Dance Festival next year. It is more apparent than ever that we need to use the power of art to connect people from different walks of life and cultures. Through DanceXchange & BIDF I am excited to grow my audience and connect with communities outside of London.



Joseph Toonga (UK), Artistic Director of Just Us Dance Theatre

‘You say I’m a black guy. I know who I am, do you know who I am?’

BORN TO MANIFEST is a new four-part film series created as a collaborative project during the COVID-19 lockdown that responds to an earlier Hip Hop theatre work Born to Manifest by Joseph Toonga, Artistic Director of Just Us Dance Theatre.

A powerful Hip Hop dance double bill, the original theatrical production, Born to Manifest premiered in November 2019, and illuminates systemic racism and its impact on Black British Men.  Joseph Toonga draws from real life accounts to a create a poignant, responsive piece that simultaneously champions cultural identity and challenges racial stigmas. Set to an original score from Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, this dynamic new dance work explores the themes of mental health and the power and privilege that still oppress and dictate. Joseph delivers stark home truths through the complexity and beauty of an individual’s journey.

‘I feel a responsibility as a black male to empower the younger generation as a role model and example of how dance can provide a positive, successful route. Mental health and black men’s experiences of it, is little discussed, which is why I am passionate about creating awareness to shift stigmas’
 Joseph Toonga.


Jade Hackett (UK)

Why do I love us so much? premiered online in September 2020. The piece was created during the COVID-19 lockdown by choreographer and artistic director Jade Hackett, in response to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the repeated trauma of seeing black people suffer at the hands of those in power.  Why do I love us so much? shifts the narrative of what has been seen on screens around the world in recent months and is a celebration of black culture and communities.

Jade Hackett is an Artistic Director, Choreographer and Dance Performer based in East London. Her work spans both commercial/pop promo and theatre, both in a live and filmed capacity. Previous credits include: Adidas, House of Holland, T4, Panasonic, London 2012, Boy Blue, Zoonation, Blaze, The Sugababes, Blackstreet and Lethal B. Jade specialises in Hip Hop, Locking, Popping, House, Afro Dance, Tap and Lindy Hop. Her body of dance work is Black culturally inspired and explores themes including women, freedom of speech and mass incarceration.


Renann Fontoura (Brazil)

“Caput, head, he who has neither name nor voice, the indeterminate behind the mask. “

Caput is a dance video work created remotely during the Covid 19 pandemic, a dance work produced from video to video that seeks to communicate contemporary issues related to our relationship with self-image, information and new technologies of communication.

Using the body language of the interpreter Leonardo Laureano, developed through experience in various dances from the African diaspora (Hip Hop, House, Krump, Breakin’, etc …), and from a perspective derived from performing arts and contemporary dance lines, we developed an experimental language with a focus on subjectivity, in an attempt to bring the viewer closer to these different artistic lines and incite critical sense. Having the concern of leaving a space, through subjective and abstract language, so that each viewer can create their own narrative interpretation, or not.

Renann Fontoura is a Brazilian dancer and choreographer whose practice investigates improvisation using Hip Hop and Popping techniques. His work has been commissioned by numerous festivals including Alkantara Festival Space (Portugal) and Festival Danca em Transit (Brazil), and he is co-founder of Abstracto – an annual event that brings together musicians and dancers to test ideas and hold artistic experiments in front of an audience.