The director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently met with Aleksandra (Nikolajev) Jones. They discussed her background and training, a current project Gravida and her thoughts on the arts in Wales.
Hi Aleksandra great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hi there and thank you for having me! I am a Serbian, Welsh Choreographer, Director and Producer based in Cardiff. I am the mother of Ilija 20, Mina 18 and Mirjana, 6 years old. You can find out more about me and my work here.
So what got you interested in the arts?
I was classically ballet trained from an early age. When I was 9, I was accepted to the National Ballet and Music School and my love for dance just became my main focus. For the last 28 years I have been lucky to work with artists from all around the world. They continue to make my creative journey and who I am now. I am still learning!
The Gravida Project which you are currently Directing and Producing centres on inviting pregnant dancers to explore their inner and outer creativity to produce a full length piece for stage. Can you give us some background information on how this project first developed?
In 2012 I arrived in Wales and I fell pregnant for the third time. OOOPs, this was not part of the plan! I needed to stop again and at the same time I was absolutely delighted by this new person in my life. In every one of my pregnancies, I was feeling different but rather then drained and tired, I was focusing on the creativity and possibilities of my new body and connection with a new baby.
I had a strong vision that I should work with pregnant dancers, and pregnant communities. I started to investigate more about motherhood, families using the medium of dance, theatre, creative/mindful movement and film.
Tanja Råman and Lara Ward rehearse Gravida. Photo: L M H C
This is how Gravida Project was born, supported by Art Council Wales and surrounded by amazing artists and communities. You can find out more details at www.gravidaproject.org.uk and join us on this creative journey!
Gravida opens ways in which pregnancy can be better incorporated professionally and celebrated universally in the form of dance. What response have had from the dance sector to this innovative project?
To be honest, it is not easy to find professional pregnant dancers, but on the other hand we are having a huge response from artists who are mothers already. At the and of the day we all came from the womb and we have got the memories from the water/womb, hidden and invisible, birth and breath, life and death.
I believe that “invisible and visible worlds” are meeting in this project and giving us the opportunity to open up questions about existence, life, our wellbeing and how all of it impacts on future generations.
The Pregnant female is increasingly visible in popular culture from Annie Leibovitz’s, Vanity Fair cover image of Demi Moore to Beyonce’s use of Instagram to announce pregnancy and subsequent birth. Is similar visible change taking place in the dance sector?
When we started the women in pregnancy project 7 years ago, the pregnant body was not in the media at all, and I feel it is still not in capacities that it should be. Our main aim is to open more platforms for mother artists, pregnant artists, mothers, single mothers, any females to continue to create during and after pregnancy and to see pregnancy and this “new body” – “the body gravida” more as a challenge rather the obstacle.
What are your long term plans for this project?
The long term plan is to open the platform for professionals and communities. To meet and discuss about the diverse aspects of taking care of OUR physical, mental and emotional states. Using creative art to express, exchange and share to support each other, to ultimately connect and communicate better.
Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists?
Gravida Project is the project of The Republic of the Imagination, Registered Charity and we are aware that Pregnancy and Maternity are one of the most important parts of Equality and Diversity Act in Wales. Gravida Project creatives and collaborators are from Wales, Serbia, Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands, Bali – Indonesia, Slovenia, Poland, Finland, Scotland, Canada, France, Swaziland and South Africa.
If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
Mother Artists and Family Projects.
What excites you about the arts in Wales?
I am excited by artists here and I am part of the diverse networks. I feel Wales is my home and we are doing a lot at the moment, also we can do even more TOGETHER.
What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
I would like to be more specific with this answer but at the same time I would like to share this:
My very last experience that I would like to share with you is the strong feeling of freedom to express, my personal appreciation to be here and witness the Creative Art of Wales with creative people.
Thanks for your time Aleksandra