Pho­to­graphy By Amir Shah

Chad Taylor, the cre­at­ive force behind the cap­tiv­at­ing show “Closer to My Dreams,” is set to make waves at the Ensemble Fest­iv­al. This innov­at­ive per­form­ance seam­lessly blends spoken word, rap, and hip hop cho­reo­graphy into a site-spe­cif­ic show that offers an immers­ive exper­i­ence for the audi­ence. Chad, along with his broth­er Ziggy and co-writer Rossay Camp­bell, brings a deeply per­son­al and authen­t­ic nar­rat­ive drawn from their own exper­i­ences grow­ing up in inner-city Manchester. We had the oppor­tun­ity to sit down with Chad to explore the inspir­a­tion behind the show, the col­lab­or­at­ive pro­cess, and how his diverse back­ground in dance and work­ing with major artists has influ­enced his approach to cre­at­ing this unique performance.

Chad, could you tell us about the inspir­a­tion behind “Closer to My Dreams” and how the idea for this site-spe­cif­ic show first came to life?

It came from want­ing to incor­por­ate two dif­fer­ent hip hop art forms, Rap­ping & Dan­cing. I star­ted writ­ing dif­fer­ent spoken word & rap pieces in 2017 and I real­ised that a lot of the pieces I was writ­ing all had the same mes­sage, that I was try­ing to get closer to some­thing, closer to my dreams in all aspects of life. I had been to watch a show in Utrecht and it was a piece where you walked around with head­phones and I thought it was really cool so it made me want to do some­thing with head­phones myself & that was how that idea came about.

The show fea­tures a blend of poetry, rap, and hip hop cho­reo­graphy. How did you and Ziggy col­lab­or­ate to integ­rate these ele­ments seam­lessly into the performance?

It was a really fun and nat­ur­al pro­cess. I gave Ziggy and my co-writer Rossay Camp­bell con­cep­tu­al­ised ideas and they were able to write from their per­spect­ive. Usu­ally, I cho­reo­graph to hip hop record­ing artists, so now cho­reo­graph­ing to Ziggy’s and my own words meant that the move­ment came easy because it had more mean­ing behind the cho­reo­graphy as the words were ours.

“Closer to My Dreams” is a deeply per­son­al story about fam­ily and friend­ship. How much of the nar­rat­ive is drawn from your and Ziggy’s real-life exper­i­ences grow­ing up in inner-city Manchester?

When I cre­ate cre­at­ive work, everything has to come from a true, real and hon­est place. So with Closer to My Dreams, all the exper­i­ences have come from Ziggy’s and my own exper­i­ences, to make the story telling as true and authen­t­ic as possible.

Your pro­fes­sion­al jour­ney began at a very young age, with diverse exper­i­ences from hip hop to bal­let and work­ing with major artists. How have these var­ied exper­i­ences influ­enced your approach to cre­at­ing this show?

Com­ing up as a pro­fes­sion­al dan­cer 15 years ago, my goal was always to dance for record­ing artist on TV and music videos. I would def­in­itely say that me work­ing with record­ing artist has had an influ­ence on my approach and pref­er­ence as to how I cre­ate cho­reo­graphy. Before Closer To My Dreams a lot of my work was just using instru­ment­als to cre­ate emotive move­ment. By the time I got round to cre­at­ing Closer To My Dreams, I really wanted to involve text into my work. I’ve used a lot of hip hop and street dance styles to devel­op my own cho­reo­graph­ic style. When devis­ing Closer To My Dreams I used the street dance styles that rep­res­ent the move­ment best through the story telling.

What has it been like work­ing with your broth­er Ziggy on this pro­ject? How do your indi­vidu­al tal­ents and exper­i­ences com­ple­ment each oth­er in the cre­at­ive process?

Us work­ing togeth­er can be a bit of a chal­lenge as the broth­erly dynam­ic in the cre­at­ive space can be chal­len­ging. How­ever, the bonuses are that cre­at­ing the work we have cre­ated is a spe­cial story, and the way we see the world and art is very sim­il­ar. Ziggy being a very tal­en­ted writer and myself being a highly skilled dan­cer and cho­reo­graph­er makes the work explosive.

The audi­ence exper­i­ences the show via head­phones, mak­ing it an intim­ate and immers­ive exper­i­ence. What chal­lenges and oppor­tun­it­ies did this format present in terms of cho­reo­graphy and storytelling?

It gave us chance to cre­ate a show with count­less oppor­tun­it­ies and gives room for break­ing tra­di­tion with­in space and storytelling.

With the show being out­doors it gives us a chance to really take over the space every time we per­form mak­ing it ours as well as allow­ing the audi­ence a per­son­al con­nec­tion to the space.

You’ve worked with not­able artists and cho­reo­graph­ers through­out your career. How did those col­lab­or­a­tions pre­pare you for tak­ing on the role of both cre­at­ive dir­ect­or and per­former in “Closer to My Dreams”?

It’s really just helped me learn how to devise a show as well as helped me to find who I am as an artist.

Look­ing ahead, what do you hope audi­ences take away from “Closer to My Dreams,” and what are your future aspir­a­tions for your­self and Ziggy in the realms of dance and music?

I want the audi­ence to see the world through our eyes, yeah closer to my dreams is about struggle, but I also want the view­er to see that there can be light at the end of the tun­nel with per­sever­ance and brotherhood.

Ulti­mately in terms of future aspir­a­tions I want my work to reach large audi­ences with the shows and ideas I cre­ate in the future. I also have a pas­sion for film and would one day like for my stor­ies to be seen on screen by people that want to see unrep­res­en­ted real­it­ies. Ziggy’s aspir­a­tions would be to be a suc­cess­ful record­ing artist.

Closer To My Dreams is at Cer­tain Blacks Ensemble Fest­iv­al, Roy­al Docks, 20 and 21 July for more inform­a­tion and per­form­ance tim­ings vis­it:

 For more inform­a­tion on Chad Taylor vis­it

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.