Sia Gbamoi studied BA Dance and graduated from Kingston University in 2014. Sia is a dance artist specialising in hip hop theatre and contemporary dance with performance work including Breakin' Convention, Beyoncé's Black is King and Sky One's Got to Dance. Sia has global experience of facilitating workshops in schools, theatres and community spaces and has returned to Kingston University as a lecturer in dance.
I had joined Avant Garde Dance Company in 2013, which really became a ‘dance home' for me after graduating in 2014. I continued dancing with other companies too - including Far From The Norm and What Is Written - and creating as part of a duo (Dan-I & Sia). This gave me a broad sense of community and allowed me to get experiences in different dance settings; theatrical, commercial, and educational. Attending workshops and auditions was priceless for my growth too; no matter the outcome, I had the chance to practice a new thing and develop confidence in what I already had.
It still blows my mind when I watch it now.
We filmed in London, and for NDA reasons could not know the full extent of what we were part of at the time. When I realised the message of this film and the input from creatives from all over the globe, it really took the experience to another level for me; I'm part of this thing that platforms multiple Black stories, voices, and bodies. There's a generation of creatives coming up who can use this as fuel when figuring out their own voices, particularly if they are entering fields where they've been historically underrepresented.
The actual on-the-day experience was heart-warming. Shoot days can be long and unpredictable, but the food, laughter and support made the whole thing beautiful. I had worked with some of the team before and felt there was a lot of trust between us to achieve the vision. Figuring out how to do simple tasks in the hoop-skirt gown was probably the funniest part. I found a new appreciation for sitting and climbing steps.
Being able to travel with dance has been invigorating. For instance, touring Avant Garde's original production Fagin's Twist in South America was huge for me. I was playing the lead role at the time which stretched my whole idea of myself. Once the tour was over, I booked another week in Peru to absorb it all.
Another (more frequent) rewarding moment is witnessing the ‘a-ha!' moment when a student unlocks something new or reconnects with something that brings them joy. It's fulfilling to see the relief, or confidence, or curiosity that they experience. It's inspiration for when I'm learning new things and trying new ways of communicating with people.
It's an honour. When I graduated, I had no idea that this opportunity would be available to me. A few things have changed over the years – especially the dance studios and facilities – but something that has endured is the commitment to valuing various dance forms and cultures.
A pleasant surprise has been working alongside people who have also seen me in other stages of my dance journey - from college, right up to professional work. It's a reminder that today's students are tomorrow's colleagues and collaborators!
I have a lot of respect for the people who poured into me whilst I studied here. It's wonderful to return years later and continue contributing to this community with even more experience behind me. Fantastic full circle moment.
Funnily enough, it's not the nights out. I think it's the five minute check-ins with Jon Chu, one of my dance lecturers. He would offer the well-being / reality check I needed at the time. I still reflect on his kindness and insight to this day. Thanks Jon!
I'm completing my MA in Dance Movement Psychotherapy this year! If you're passionate about movement and mental health, you can reach out to me to find out more.
Find out about other Kingston University alumni we have caught up with.