Serendipity Board

Serendipity’s board of trustees are the guardians of Serendipity’s mission and purpose, with industry leads in arts and festival management, education and artistic practice. Serendipity’s board reflects and supports the organisation’s key aim of bringing diversity to the forefront in arts with high quality work that reflects the demographics of the UK.

Tony Graves

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Tony is Head of Subject and a Principal Lecturer for the Arts and Festivals Management, BA undergraduate degree at De Montfort University.

He has a background in the arts both as a performer and administrator. A former classical pianist, he is a graduate of the Royal College of Music, and was previously the Chief Executive of The Drum Arts Centre, Birmingham and a producer at Nottingham Playhouse.

Tony has been involved in the delivery of strategic arts planning at a regional and national level with particular emphasis on cultural diversity. He was lead researcher for De Montfort University’s Cultural Management and Policy Group evaluating the cultural diversity gateway of the New Audiences Programme for Arts Council England.

He is Director of the university’s annual Cultural eXchanges festival, and has developed this into a major event over the past 15 years. Previous guests include Ken Loach, Jamal Edwards, Germaine Greer, Melvyn Bragg, Trevor Nelson, Bonnie Greer, Meera Syal and Adrian Lester.

He has served on a number of boards including Nitro Music Theatre Company, The New Art Exchange and Dance 4. Amongst his publications are a report entitled ‘Fear of the Artist’ produced in collaboration with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the South Bank Centre, and funded by NESTA.

karen Chouhan

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Karen Chouhan is the Leicester Organiser for the Worker’s Educational Association which is a national charity providing adult education including for the poorest and most disadvantaged people in society. She is also Chair of Healthwatch Leicester City, a body which aims to champion public and patient views and interests in the Health and Social Care System.

Her background is in Further and Higher Education and she is a qualified teacher. She was previously a senior lecturer at De Montfort University where she managed the MA in Community Education. She has also built a body of expertise and practice in youth work, community development and equalities and human rights work and has managed a national equality charity. In 2005 she was one of 7 recipients of a Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust award called ‘visionary for a just and peaceful world’.

 

Catherine Dénécy

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Catherine Dénécy first started her professional training in Guadeloupe, she moved to New York City in 2004 to enter the Ailey School as the recipient of The Oprah Winfrey Foundation Scholarship. Catherine Dénécy has had the privilege to study with many great figures of American modern dance such as Denise Jeffferson, Peter London, Jacqueline Buglisi and Elizabeth Roxas.

In 2005 she joined the Urban Bush Women Company and became a permanent member for five seasons, she had the pleasure to premier and perform works of an artistic director and choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar in the USA, South America, West Africa and Europe. In 2008 and 2009 also went to Senegal with Urban Bush Women where she collaborated with choreographer Germaine Acogny and her company Jant-Bi on the creation of “Scales of Memory”.

Catherine Dénécy then went on to be awarded the Grand Prix de la Création artistique de Guadeloupe for her dance project with set designer Soylé. In 2011 she founded the BLISS Company to support her work and research on contemporary Caribbean dance on the international scene whilst continuing to work with Jawole Zollar and Nora Chipaumire.

Throughout 2013 she toured in Jamaica, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Cuba and England and later that year she travelled to Paris for the Festival Outre Mer Veile and also that very same year she made her debut as an actress with a leading role in Bat Fanm aw mode d’emploi directed by Abel Bichara as part of a national Campaign against domestic violence. Catherine Dénécy has also studied at the Lee Strasberg Film and Theatre Institute whilst there she played Velma Kelly in Chicago, The Musical at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre and later on made her first appearance on TV. Catherine who has undoubtedly been influenced by her African Caribbean origins obviously explores and works on the relation between the dancer and the musician, or the body and the instrument. While doing so, she challenges the codes and develops a refreshing and exalted contemporary dance.

 

Editorial Advisory Board

Serendipity is expanding its publishing portfolio and is establishing an Editorial Advisory Board to underpin this area of development. Serendipity’s mission includes providing an outlet for the unheard voices and stories from people of African and Caribbean heritage working in professional contexts in Britain and internationally.

The organisation’s focus is on the arts, with special reference to dance and social and cultural histories.  Its first publications evolved out of the proceedings/papers presented at LDIF’s annual conferences, but it also commissions edited collections and accepts proposals to publish academic theses and books.

The Editorial Advisory Board will be galvanised into action as Serendipity’s next publication will focus on ‘African Dance Development in the UK during the period 1950 – 2000’.

Adesola Akinleye

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Dr Adesola Akinleye began her career as a dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, later establishing her company, DancingStrong, which creates dance in the UK and internationally. Her recent works include Untitled: Women’s Work, an international commission from the Center for the Education of Women, USA. This project informed Adesola’s recent chapter, ‘Her Life in Movement…’, in the publication ‘Researching Embodied Sport: Exploring Movement Cultures’, edited by Ian Wellard. Also, ‘Passing 2: The Price of a Ticket’ premièred this year as a duet at Duke University, USA, and then as a solo at LDIF16.

Her most recent work for young audiences, ‘’Light Steps, premièred at the Turner Contemporary Museum 2014 and has toured UK though 2016.

Adesola is a Fellow of the RSA. She holds a PhD in dance/sociology of the body and embodiment, Canterbury Christ Church University. She has an MA in Dance, Middlesex University. She has been a guest teacher/choreographer internationally including Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer programmes. She is a part-time Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University. Adesola is editor of the forthcoming book, ‘Narratives from Black British Dance: Embodied Practices’.

Her interest in dance as a language for communication of embodied experience has led her to community-informed starting points.

www.dancingstrong.com

David Dabydeen

David Dabydeen

Critic, writer and novelist David Dabydeen was born in 1955 in Berbice, Guyana, moving to England with his parents in 1969.

He read English at Cambridge University, gained a doctorate at University College London in 1982 and was awarded a research fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford. David Dabydeen is Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies and Professor at the Centre for British Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Warwick. He is also Guyana’s Ambassador-at-Large and a member of UNESCO’s Executive Board. In 2001 he wrote and presented ‘The Forgotten Colony’, a BBC Radio 4 programme exploring the history of Guyana. He is the author of four novels, three collections of poetry and several works of non-fiction and criticism. His first book, ‘Slave Song’ (1984), a collection of poetry, won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and the Quiller-Couch Prize. A new collection, ‘Turner’, was published in 2002.

His first novel, ‘The Intended’ (1991), the story of a young Asian student abandoned in London by his father, won the Guyana Prize for Literature.

David Dabydeen’s most recent book is ‘Molly and the Muslim Stick’ (2008) and he has recently edited books for the Coventry-based Heaventree Press. In 2007, he was awarded the Hind Rattan (Jewel of India) Award for his outstanding contribution to literature and the intellectual life of the Indian diaspora.

Gladys M. Francis

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Dr Gladys M. Francis is a native of Guadeloupe. She teaches in the United States, at Georgia State University, Atlanta. As the Director of the South Atlantic Center of the Institute of the Americas, Dr Francis facilitates academic and artistic collaborations throughout the south eastern region of the United States.

Her research interests involve Caribbean Studies; Theory and Cultural Studies; Francophone, African, and African Diaspora Studies; Visual and Media Studies; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Dr Francis’s research on the Black body offers a reading together of the literary and performing arts (as well as traditional Caribbean dance, music, and oral practices) to arrive at a transregional (trans-Caribbean and transatlantic), trans-genre, and transdisciplinary conversation in Women, Gender, and Africana studies.

Dr Francis’s career includes numerous publications, invited lectures, interviews, teaching awards, and international research grants and fellowships. She has also directed and coordinated several research field trips and long-term study abroad programmes in Africa, the Caribbean and Europe.

http://www2.gsu.edu/~mclgmf/