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You May Find Yourself Here… Camilla Greenwell

A composite image of four photographs of dancers hands

Through photography and interviews, Camilla Greenwell captures the experience of dance within community groups associated with the Sadler’s Wells Get into Dance programme.

Visiting five community centres across East London, the project aims to document the stories around why people dance, what it brings to their life, and ultimately how movement connects us to ourselves and to others.

Go to the photos and interviews

Community Centres featured in this exhibition include:

  • The Ekta Project
  • Hibiscus Caribbean Elderly Association
  • St Hilda’s East Community Centre
  • Pembury Community Centre
  • X7even Performing Arts


From the time I was little, I remember I was dancing in Trinidad with the steel band and the calypso and what the children were always dancing. So I think it’s second nature. I like the freedom of the movement of my body. I think it’s a lovely way to express how you feel. And it makes me lose myself. So I am in a different world when I’m dancing.


Why do I dance? I dance because I love dancing. I love music. It uplifts me and I’m in a different world totally when I’m dancing. All the stress and everything else I put behind me.
Nicole from St Hilda’s East Community Centre


The thing I enjoy the most when I’m dancing is repeating the movement and following the music. It makes me feel happy, relaxed, and it’s just like forget about everything around me. Dancing with a group is… different is communicating, having sometimes smiling to somebody or just looking at my friend, trying to see if she does the same movement. It’s just be together.


Ha ha. It’s a good question, why do we dance? We all dance don’t we? I think I have a dance in me all day and so its really nice to directed in you dance aswell. So I dance for the joy and I dance because, actually I don’t know I have the words for this yet, it makes you feel. Dancing makes me feel. I think it’s not about, I don’t think you can think how you feel. Because you connect with the music and music is that rhythm and rhythm is kind of prehistoric, isn’t it?


Why do I dance? It makes me happy and motivates me. I notice I just love music. I’m a shy person, but when I hear music it brings me life. When I get home I feel happy, I can get on with it. Because sometimes I notice, many years ago I was getting suffered from depression and I notice if I’m happy doing stuff. I’m dancing and getting about, it keeps me, you know, makes me more motivated and happier.


It makes me happy. I think with all the endorphins that we have, I feel happy after doing it. And also, not only that, we meet a lot of people of the same age. And it’s really great. You don’t have to stay at home, be miserable. You know, because I didn’t want to retire, but I did. So it’s the best thing ever. Yeah. I love all the dancers.


In the school in India and in college I won a trophy for dancing. In India not here, I come from Punjab and dress like this.


Starting in the group Ekta Group and everywhere I’m going to lots of places with EKTA Group & Ramesh and we dance bhangra and everything and enjoy it. Lots of people enjoy it and then everyone is enjoying, that I like.


Dance helps you to relieve stress, relieve, it takes you away I think from the after world sometimes you’re just there and you’re enjoying yourself and you’re just in the moment you’re there and you’re showing, within yourself and to other people. You know, you can get on, no matter what your problems are or what’s out there, but you can just let go and just be free and not think about the outside, what’s going on at the moment.


I dance because it keeps me active. I’m retired. I’ve been retired for about 13 years and I’ve always tried to find things to put into my day. So I dance because it keeps me active and quite a lot of, I’ve made some new friends here as well.


Why do I like dance? I think it’s just the association between music and dance that I like, because if I hear a nice tune, I feel like moving. Similarly, if I’m dancing, I can hear music in my head. And I’ve just always grown up with music playing. It builds confidence when you learn something new. Yeah, it just energises me, it lifts my spirit. Yeah, and it’s something that I will do. If I’m playing music and I’m doing housework, that’s the thing to do. Doing housework, you have music on and you’re dancing around with your utensils or your tools in your hand. Just accompanies everything that you do, really.


Why do I dance? I dance to feel free, I dance to feel happy, I dance to cheer myself up, I dance to make others smile, make my children smile, my friends. It’s a nice way of getting people together and having fun. Dancing is part of my life and even though I haven’t done it professionally, for me, dancing is just part of who I am. It’s my breath. I love it. I can’t imagine life without dancing. And it’s something that I intend to do as long as my feet are able to carry me.


When I dance, what I’m seeing in my head is Margot Fontaine. You know, I’m not seeing me. So it’s just a beautiful, beautiful thing. Doesn’t matter that my body might not be able to do it that well. I have to work quite hard to keep up. But you know, that’s of course very good because I needed to do something after all those operations. Going from hardly being able to move to… actually moving, but in an enjoyable way rather than one, two, one, two kind of exercise. That’s what I would say to my younger self. Don’t judge yourself. You don’t know what you can do until you try it.

Camilla Greenwell

Camilla Greenwell is a director and photographer with a fine art and performance background. Her work stems from an interest in people and the stories they tell. It occupies a space between reality and performance, with a focus on movement and dance.

Get Into Dance

Sadler’s Wells wants as many people as possible to experience dance. Through our programmes, the communities we work with share their time, talent and creativity. These weekly sessions are led by professional freelancers and is inspired by the diverse communities and dance styles on our artistic stages. We co-produce our engagement activities with local organisations in East London and Islington and celebrate dance in our communities.

On the final day of Elixir Festival 2024 the community groups featured in this exhibition will be joined by two further community centres from North London; Brickworks Community Centre and St Luke’s Community Centre. All seven centres will perform new works they have created to a specially invited audience of friends, family and supporters.

Elixir Festival

Elixir Festival takes over Sadler’s Wells for two weeks in April 2024 with a series of performances, newly commissioned works, talks, workshops, installations and films that challenge perceptions around dance and ageing. With works from iconic international artists alongside performances from dancers drawn from our local communities in North and East London, the festival asks how do we express our changing bodies and minds as we grow and age?

As part of this festival, Camilla Greenwell’s film Widening Circles featuring Aditi Mangaldas can be viewed for free on Digital Stage. This vibrant Dance on Screen film is set against the backdrop of Delhi, India, and unveils a portrait of one of the greatest South Asian dancers of her generation.

Dance On Pass On Dream On, Co-funded by the European Union
Co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union as part of DANCE ON, PASS ON, DREAM ON