Since completing his training at Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance, Michael has consistently worked as a choreographer, dance artist, teacher and DSLR dance filmmaker – nationally and internationally. In 2008, he left his position as Assistant Artistic Director with Union Dance after 23 years to establish his career as an Independent Dance Artist. His work has been influenced and inspired by an eclectic mix of various choreographers, and he has had the privilege to work with Bill T Jones, Doug Elkins, Rafael Bonachela, Laurie Booth, B Boys, Axè (Capoeirista), Tom Jobe and Derek Williams.
Having trained at the University of Surrey, Deborah Baddoo went on to gain an MA in Performance Arts at Middlesex University. Deborah went on to open Pyramid Dance Studio in London in 1985 and in 1986 she became Artistic Director of State of Emergency. Throughout her varied career she has pursued a passionate, long-term vision to support the development of Black dance and choreography nationally and internationally, and in 2010 she was awarded an MBE for services to British dance. Her productions include Dance for Life (1991), The Mission (2003-9), Desert Crossings (2010-11), Love&Sex (2013), Choices&Consequences (2015) and Where is Home? (2016-18).
Bawren Tavaziva grew up in a rural village near Masvingo in Zimbabwe. Football, Michael Jackson, New Edition and Kung Fu movies viewed at the local community hall provided inspiration to Bawren and his friends. At the age of 12 Bawren Tavaziva attended an outreach ballet project with the National Ballet of Zimbabwe at his local community centre. In 2004 he came to England to join Phoenix and Union Dance and went on to form his own company and become Artistic Director of Tavaziva Dance. His productions include Boy’s Khaya (premiering in 2021), Izindava 2017, Africarmen 2015, Tavaziva Ten 2014, Greed 2013, Sensual Africa 2012, Double Take 2011, Wild Dog 2010, Heart of Darkness 2009, Chatsva 2007, Bophelo 2006, and Soul Inspired 2005.
Kay founded Chhaya Collective in 2013 to connect artists in Bangalore (India) and Devon (UK). Before this, she had been working between UK and India for 10 years and formed Chhaya to engage artists in cross-cultural collaborative performance and film projects, in response to societal issues. Kay is artist-in-residence at Pavilion Dance South-West. Chhaya Collective are currently based at Exeter Phoenix Theatre (UK), along with Chhaya Youth Dance Company and deliver projects nationally and internationally. Through her work, Kay strives to amplify women's voices and share real-life stories of women in the 21st Century.
Steve Marshall is a singer, song writer and producer who, in 1983, co-founded Pyramid Arts Development, a seminal music and arts centre in Dalston, East London. He set up State of Emergency with Deborah Baddoo in 1986, which was the beginning of a long association with dance-theatre. Notably, Steve recorded and performed extensively with Jamaican legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. Working with Lee led to recording and mixing projects with Keith Richards and George Clinton.
Somerset Film is an educational charity and film production company, set up in 1997, with a reputation for inclusion, partnership working and creative innovation. Able to respond quickly and flexibly to new opportunities, Somerset Film have won awards nationally and internationally. In 2003, Somerset Film opened The Engine Room, an accessible community media centre located in Bridgwater’s High Street. The centre includes a cafe, licensed cinema, studios, meeting rooms and edit suites. Their patron is the acclaimed film director and local resident Julien Temple.
Alfoxton House is a place with a rich history. In 1797, the poet William Wordsworth lived there for a time, having moved to the area to be close to his friend and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The first reading of Coleridge’s famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, took place in one of the rooms in the house.
In 2020 the Alfoxton Park Trust – Jayaraja, Lokabandhu and Cittapala - received the keys to the house, with the aim of creating a retreat centre with a focus on poetry and the arts. The long-term aim is to create a sustainable eco-centre that produces its own food. As the house hasn’t lived in for twelve years there is quite a bit of work to be done. Projects such as ‘Coleridge Unbound’ help to focus attention on and bring new life to Alfoxton House and its beautiful grounds.
Unitarian Chapel Taunton
Taunton Unitarian Chapel is on Mary Street, Taunton. It was built in the early 18th century as a Baptist chapel, but later adopted Unitarianism. During Joshua Toulmin's ministry, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge occasionally preached at the chapel while staying at Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey. In a letter, Coleridge wrote, "I walked into Taunton (eleven miles) and back again and performed the divine services for Dr. Toulmin." Unitarian worship was legalised in 1813.