Coffee Morning: tokenism, safeguarding, and complicity

Coffee Morning: Tokenism, Safeguarding, and Complicity
Hosted by illyr

Tuesday 5th Nov | 11am – 2pm(ish)
Chisenhale Studios Education Room (Wheelchair Accessible)
Always Free
Rant. Chat. Eat.


After suffering a nervous breakdown in one of the most important weeks of my career, I was forced to stop, re-contextualise my life, and question the industry I had fought so vehemently to be a part of. I was confronted by difficult questions about abuse, death, relationships, how I harvest my own personal trauma to make work, and how I feel being a commodified entity for choreographers, brands and artists.

I am finding it difficult to perform masculinity, to perform queerness, to perform blackness, to perform for anyone generally. How can we deal with the conflict between our own complicity and integrity as artists and performers, and avoid the toxic narratives that are so often imposed upon us?

With dance currently having such a big resurgence in fashion, music, film and commercial brands, this Coffee Morning is a space to discuss how the commodification and tokenism of our identities, queerness, and skin colour affects the dance community.

How can curators, choreographers, and casting agents safeguard the people they work with and what are the measures that could be taken to protect against objectification, fetishisation and subjugation?

Image by Hugo de la Rosa.


illyr is London based, queer, POC multidisciplinary performing artist, singer and choreographer. By dissecting his own experiences in an autobiographical process of insight his work explores desire, emotional exploitation that questions the role of the viewer, the artist, and the wider emotional landscape between entertainment and voyeurism.

His first EP [SCROLLING SUBCONSCIOUS] was released in May 2017 and was heavily inspired by his time working as a CCTV operator in a London sex club. He trained at Rambert School and his various work crosses fashion, film, music & theatre both underground and high profile and is represented for choreography by AMCKdance.



This season’s Coffee Mornings will be hosted in the Education Room on the ground floor at Chisenhale Studios, and therefore are accessible by wheelchair. A range of seating arrangements are provided.  If you have other questions about access, please call us on 020 8981 6617 or email


About Coffee Mornings

Coffee Mornings are a way in which dance/performance makers and doers can talk about the relationships between issues of production, public policy and the politics of the artwork that they are making and doing. Each event has a different theme, and is led by a different artist or group. The events are free and open to all artists. We sit around the kitchen table and eat and talk.

Coffee Mornings at Chisenhale Dance Space were initiated in 2011 by Gillie Kleiman, and taken over in 2015 by Hamish MacPherson, both independent dance artists and members of the artistic community around the organisation. They are now facilitated by Es Morgan, CDS staff and artist member. If you would like to host one, find out more here.