Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Practivist of the Week - Zosia Jo

Adrian Lincoln, Frames Photography

Practivism = pragmatic, proactive, promotable activism

Practivist Zosia Jo

How old are you, if you don’t mind?

I am 28 years young.

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest?

Right now I am finding ways to reconcile my inherent need to create work and an ever increasing urge to affect some kind of positive social change.

In my early training, that felt like a conflict, like my ‘art’ was a selfish indulgence. Since finding routes into community dance work that changed. I began creating projects that reached out into the community.

My current solo work, Herstoryis about making a statement that is socio-political. It is a collection of verbatim stories woven into one that tell the story of an abusive relationship from the happy beginning to the bitter end. My aim is to help my audiences understand how easy it is to find oneself in that situation, how it can happen to anyone. And also to lend my voice to the stories of these women- some of these stories have been secret until now.

My links to charities is vital also, because I am only raising the issue… During my previous tour I collected donations for, and offered information about, Women’s Aid. During the upcoming Edinburgh Fringe run I will be collecting for Health in Mind, and Edinburgh based charity who help survivors in practical ways and with their resulting mental health issues.

What route did you take to get here?

I had a very difficult time in dance training. I chose a school that I felt would challenge me with my weakest area - technique. Having started late, I was confident in my creative abilities, but lacked the honed classical technique of many of my peers. Unfortunately, my academic abilities and more experimental choreographic tendencies were not valued by the school, and staring daily at my leotard-clad, somewhat curvy, frame in the mirror caused a fair amount of trauma for me. I battled mild depression and some symptoms of eating disorder (though never fell full throttle into anorexia thank god) and emerged from my training unable to face auditions or further study.

So I decided to create my own work. I felt very confident working with children after an inspirational course I’d taken at college. I went to work in West Wales, a place I had friends and family, and felt safe. My success there has enabled me to build a career of mixing community work and choreography and I have found a passion for making things happen.

Project management is something I can get up and be dying to do first thing in the morning - provided the project is exciting enough. Over the years I have performed more and more in my own work and found my way back into my body. Through this, and through two years of studying psychotherapy and undertaking personal development work, I have come to reconcile with my body. Gradually I have been able to forgive her, realise the trauma came from outside of us, and settle back inside myself.

This solo, on a personal level, was about saying to the world- I can do this. I think it is the parallel between me and the survivor character I play which lends the solo its credibility. It is not just her story, it is also mine. I put my own story into it through the poems I have written over years of failed and difficult relationships, and through the movement, which I struggled to create, in an effort to re-find my physicality and rebuild confidence in my own body. That is something I share with a survivor of domestic abuse - the rebuilding, and this is shown quite literally in the final movements of the solo.

You can support practivist Zosia Jo bring  Herstory to the Festival Fringe Edinburgh via the crowdfunding campaign.

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