We often get asked what our previous Elevate graduates have gone on to do after finishing their year with us. Erena Bordon Sanchez, who graduated from Elevate Dance Company in 2010, shares with us what she has been up to since the course and talks about her latest project.
My year with Elevate Dance Company was a time to continue my professional development in becoming a professional dancer. A space to celebrate my faith through dance and build deep friendships with those on my course that wanted to learn more about combining dance and faith. Elevate gave me the opportunity to choreograph by reflecting on what God was speaking to me or things in the bible. I really connected with this, and developed this further during my professional training which has led on to me choreographing about an issue God has placed on my heart.
After completing my time with Elevate, I was blessed with the opportunity to train at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. During Elevate and my first two years at Laban, I used every choreographic opportunity to try and explore different parts of scripture and how they could be communicated in new creative ways through movement. Things shifted in my third year, however, when God led me to start researching and choreographing on a subject that He had placed on my heart: the issue of Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery. At the time I didn’t know much about the issue and so took the opportunity of doing a choreographic dissertation in order to understand more and to research how to make a performance piece that truly raises the audience’s awareness of the subject as well as impacting them to do something about the issue.
Upon graduating, I was approached by various people who encouraged me and the team that this work needed to continue. We believe that dance is a powerful tool which God has gifted us for communicating, impacting and restoring. I sat down with the lead dancer and we prayed and asked God for direction on what he wanted us to do next.
Six months later, we premiered as The Natashas Project, an international contemporary dance/physical theatre company. Its aim is to use dance to inform and equip the public about Human Trafficking in Modern Day Slavery and support survivors through creative means. Now, four years later, we have three branches in which we do this:
NATASHAS a 20 min production tackling sexual exploitation by taking the audience through a journey of lost innocence.
On Demand our Arts Council funded full length production looking further at themes that link with all the aspects of human trafficking and slavery today, such as control, manipulation and dehumanisation.
Our Educational Workshops merge contemporary dance, physical theatre and choreographic techniques to inform, equip and inspire participants on how to take ownership of this issue today.
Our restorative dance workshops provide a creative means of support for survivors of human trafficking and modern day slavery. These currently run weekly free of charge to survivors. We have also recently welcomed new members to our restorative staff team that previously did Elevate Dance Foundation and Elevate Dance Company.
We are so blessed that alongside this we have just become a registered charity. Our aim is for our work to reach far and wide as we communicate that this issue is still happening today, that we need to act now, and that God’s love truly does bring restoration to those who have experienced it. There is hope.
If while reading this you feel like you would like to be praying for The Natashas Project and the work that they do, then they would appreciate your prayers for funding future work, an increase in workshops and performances, and prayers that through their work people will feel God’s love and that more people will be inspired to stand up against the issues of Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery.
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