Image: Vessel, performed by Sophie Hutchinson, captured by Matt Jamie
Company of Others is a dance theatre company based in the North East founded and led by Nadia Iftkhar, which makes artistically rich, and formally innovative, public dance theatre performances and experiences. The company was created to be a safe and courageous artistic space for communities who are Othered by the society we live in. We believe that our work can be a force for social change, and that by working creatively and collaboratively, we can help to tackle the injustice and inequality experienced by people who are Othered by society.
Structures of inequality shape our experience of the world differently for those of us who are subject to prejudice and discrimination for reasons which are out of our control. We recognise that when structures of inequality are torn down everyone benefits.
Company of Others is a beacon. It is a lighthouse. It is a watchtower.
It is a home for everybody who wants it and anybody who needs it. Our work is an offering.
Nadia Iftkhar: ‘I created Company of Others, because I recognised the need in me, to have somewhere to belong, artistically and ethically. It made sense to me that if I felt that, then others might too. It was about creating a home for us.’
Artistic Director, Nadia Iftkhar makes performances using dance as the leading artform, performed mainly by women, working with devised text, non-linear storytelling and often with live sound.
Our work uses a range of theatrical and pedestrian movement styles. It is dance as living, breathing storytelling, each story formed in the body and expressed through movement and words. Authentic and honest, every movement is a word made from scratch: allowing us to make our own language worthy of the stories we’re telling. It is political and personal.
Our shows ask that audiences are active observers, with their own agency to experience and interpret. We seek to invite an experience and provoke a reaction and are not afraid of what that might be: to disturb or to elicit joy, to call forth tears or make people look away. The shows are gentle, intimate acts of protest: opportunities for understanding and connection, to rediscover or enhance empathy.
Within each show is a gift: perhaps for a performer, hearing part of a story told for the first time; for a co- creator watching their history being uttered anew; for an audience experiencing beauty and solidarity.
Each piece of work is different to our last, taking artistic risk and helping to define our aesthetic and methods.
The work of Company of Others draws on the relationship between Nadia Iftkhar’s vision and the physical and emotional memories of the performers in our community which comes to life in the detail of the movement.
We work long-term with our communities, making dance theatre which has a transformative effect on those collaborating and watching, shining a light on unheard communities and providing the framework and practise for people who have been Othered to express themselves creatively and make their own changes in the world.
We work responsively. Our practice is both resilient and nimble, allowing us to respond to the immediate needs and desires of our communities.
We strive to address accessibility at every stage of engagement – making the process and live performance as accessible as possible.
Company of Others is interdisciplinary: working in collaboration with multiple artforms, drawing on a multitude of artistic practices and imaginations.
We mentor and nurture the next generation of dance artists Othered by society and our industry, providing support, advice, and artistic and career guidance. We seek to make our sector better by leading by example: helping our artists understand their rights, worth and the dignity they are owed.
Our Artistic Policy is led by philosophy. We believe that in order to make work displaying the highest levels of artistry and craft, we must start from a place of safety and care. We work anew each time, developing new practices and forms for each performance, project and community. We foster and maintain genuine equity between our community and professional performers – un-trained and trained – and create a collaborative space where every voice, every provocation, every artistic offer is valued. We give equal weight to performances in community spaces and theatres: ours is art made with and for our community.
We work with people who are Othered. We define this as: people who have had Otherness – the experience of being Other – imposed on them by society, who do not conform to the prevailing and arbitrary social norms.
We recognise this can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. We look to the far edges of Otherness, the far end of marginalisation, the far end of exclusion. We stand proudly at the intersections of that experience, recognising that the weight of multiple ‘otherings’ on a person’s body has a profound effect on them. We see that weight and offer our work as a means of carrying it, expressing it and sharing it.
We recognise experience of trauma as a result of being Othered.
We acknowledge and fight against the systems which oppress people who have been deemed Other. We creatively problem solve in order to make projects which mitigate the tangible impacts of oppression on people and communities who are Othered.
We make work about subjects, issues, moments, feelings which speak to us and our community in that time in that place. We reserve and protect our right to make work about experiences external to that of Otherness.
We recognise that not all Otherness is equal in the society we live in and in the context of making art. We want to address the difficulty of finding language around these nuances and make work in the spaces which exist in this discomfort.
We are a diverse company and all people we work with and for represent that diversity, including members, artists, leadership and board. They are our community.
We work in a responsive way, co-creating our projects and shows. We do not want to know in advance what a show will look like: it will be formed from the ideas and bodies of those present.
We always work in a way which aligns with our politics, upholding the rights of the global majority to be seen, heard and creative at all times.
We seek to make work which is specific to our communities whilst also being universal. It is informed by the people who we make it with, giving us complete artistic freedom to make work about any topic our community feel drawn to.
We will always seek to fill gaps where we see them. We will provide creative experiences to those in need of them; to respond authentically, with our skills and expertise, to personal and social crises.
Aims and Actions 2021-2022
These are our artistic priorities for the next twelve months.
- – We will push the boundaries of where our work can live and be experienced with the creation and performance of Grief Floats in the North Sea Summer 2021
- – We will expand our use of ritual, taking it outside an individual show and into the practice of community building by staging the first Walker Youth Dance Festival Summer 2021 which we hope to establish as a yearly ritual.
- – Company of Others will explore how to pass on their methodology and values without being present, either in person or digitally, by creating different versions of Dance in an Envelope for specific communities.
This document was: Created by Nadia Iftkhar (CEO & Artistic Director) and Lily Einhorn (Creative Producer): January 2021
Appraised by Dr. Karen Parry (Chair of the board): January 2021
Agreed and Signed off by Chair on behalf of Board of Trustees: January 2021