Yewande 103 is a Black, disabled and survivor-led organisation formed in response to racial, ableist and gender-based violences and biases, upholding white supremacy in the dance and wider cultural sectors.
Alexandrina Hemsley founded her own organisation Yewande 103 in July 2020. She works with Executive Producer Nancy May Roberts on this company work.
Compassionate, embodied advocacy in action through choreography, production, artist support and mental health discourse.
Their work firstly lives in the body. They language (choreograph, write, facilitate) ways of honouring lived experiences. They practice holding multiplicity and intersectionality by staying in creative processes. Their form of embodied activism is responsive and adaptable rather than resting in specific genres; the breath of their practice sees them invested as much in discourse and organisational structures as choreographic or aesthetic enquiries.
Yewande 103 formalises the past 10+ years of Creative Director Alexandrina Hemsley’s work in the contemporary dance field as a choreographer, performer, writer, mentor and educator. ‘Yewande’ is Alexandrina’s middle name. It has been passed down the women in their family from their great-great-grandmother who ran away from slave traders in Nigeria. She hid, survived and lived until she was 103 years old. In Yoruba, Yewande means ‘mother has returned’. There are echoes of intergenerational, nurturing and survivorship within this name and family history, that speak to personal/ political lines of ancestry. This name also speaks to ways in which Alexandrina would like this company to hold others and uphold values of care and connection.
Landscape header image from Maelstrom Under Glass, courtesy of Alexandrina Hemsley.
Portrait of Alexandrina Hemsley by Richard Moore.