Interview: Vicki Igbokwe - Uchenna Dance
Our Mighty Groove came to Trinity as part of IGNiTE, 11th November 2016
“What I love is working with people and bringing their talents to reality”.
IF Vicki Igbokwe ever had any concerns about her cv they soon disappeared in 2012 when she helped to create the opening ceremony at the London Olympic Games that captivated TV audiences around the world.
As one of the mass movement choreographers involved in Danny Boyle’s stunning historical presentation, Vicki worked with 200 men, known behind the scenes as the Warriors – 90 per cent of them volunteers – on the moving Industrial Revolution scene.
“Mass movement was what I’d been doing in my career but 2012 was a thousand times more intense,” said 35-year-old Vicki. “I learned so much about myself and so much about people, and it obviously improved my reputation within the industry, being able to work with so many people under so much pressure”.
All the while Vicki – who went on to work at the Winter Olympics in Russia and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, both in 2014 – was being taken over by the drive to inspire others through dance, audiences as well as performers.
“I see it all as a question of empowerment, whether that is watching a show or attending one-to-one workshop training. Movement for me is another form of communication to make people freer. What I want to do is spend the next five years developing The Head Wrap Diaries and a second show – Our Mighty Groove – rather than make show after show. I want to work smart, not hard.
“There’s a lot of self-sabotage out there with women asking who they are and where they are going in life. There’s pressure in society on women in all their relationships, at home, at work and with their partners. I want them to go and make the life that they want to live.”
Vicki’s campaigning style clearly comes from her own background. Her barrister father died when she was very young and at 14 she had to be carer for her mother - formerly a Labour councillor in Kensal Green - until she passed away in 2009, and her three younger sisters.
That was also the year she set up Uchenna Dance, which “survived on love” and, in Vicki’s case, on some teaching in colleges and universities. “The company would meet every Sunday for a few hours where we rehearsed in a cold studio, followed by some food in Nando’s to heat ourselves up.
“The people I was working with wanted to be performers – growing from six to 15 - and I wanted to be a choreographer, so it worked for all of us on that level. Now we have six to eight in the company, all working as freelancers who work with Uchenna and me on a project to project basis.”