The transformative power of art with Pietra Mello-Pittman MBE

Welcome to today's episode where we embark on a journey with Pietra Mello-Pittman MBE, tracing her extraordinary path from the hallowed halls of the Royal Ballet School in London to the global stage of the Royal Ballet.

But that's just the beginning.

Get ready for a backstage pass into the mesmerising world of "Inala" – the Zulu Ballet, a Grammy Nominated sensation co-created by Pietra and her visionary partner, Ella Spira.

From the glittering lights of the West End to standing ovations around the globe, their work not only captivates audiences but earns them the prestigious MBE honours.

We get to hear about the grand renaissance as “Inala” returns as a permanent fixture in London’s iconic West End, adorned with revolutionary designs and sets made of biodegradable materials, a testament to Pietra and Ella’s unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries.

Join us as we unravel the tapestry of Sisters Grimm, the creative powerhouse behind it all, dedicated to weaving tales that transcend borders and celebrate diversity.

Throughout our conversation, Pietra imparts invaluable lessons on purpose, collaboration, and resilience, igniting sparks of hope and possibility.

This episode is not just a conversation—it’s a beacon of light, illuminating the endless possibilities when passion meets purpose.

So, join us on this unforgettable journey filled with opportunity and an insight to the transformative power of art with Pietra.

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

If you would like to be reminded of future podcasts and other inspiring stories from TIE, join our newsletter ⁠here⁠.

If you would like to order Philippa’s book Return on Humanity: Leadership lessons from all corners of the earth, you can do that ⁠here⁠.

If you’d like to know more about the Inala relaunch, click here: https://sisters-grimm.co.uk/inala-2024-west-end-relaunch/

Click here for more about Sister’s Grimm productions: https://sisters-grimm.co.uk/productions/

To learn more about UK Art in Nature click here: http://www.ukartinnature.com

0:03

Welcome to the show where we expose new perspectives on our ever evolving world through the lenses of various industries, cultures and backgrounds.

Our guests are disruptors.

United by a common goal.

To bring their purpose to life, whether they’re from the commercial world or third sector, from the global North or the global S, expect an inspirational journey that will transform your perspective on just what is possible.

0:32

My name is Philippa White and welcome to Thai Unearthed.

Hello and welcome to episode 87 of Thai Unearthed.

Today I’m speaking with Pietra Melo Pittman, a Brazilian British former Royal Ballet dancer for 13 years and Co founder of impact driven london-based globe trotting production company Sisters Grimm with Grammy nominated composer and painter Ella Spira.

1:04

Over the past thirteen years, Sisters Grimm has created original shows and arts experiences which have enthralled millions around the world.

By collaborating with artists from diverse cultures, Sisters Grimm creates feel good experiences that address global social concerns and builds bridges between cultures.

1:25

Today we start at the beginning.

We hear about Pietra’s trajectory from full time training at the Royal Ballet School in London, to professionally dancing with the Royal Ballet to then filling out theatres including the Royal Albert Hall in London with her Grammy nominated show Enala.

1:45

The Zulu Ballet that premiered in 2014 that not only received regular standing ovations but also won both her and her Co creator Ella Mbes.

She talks about how their work transports audiences to another world through music and dance and story.

2:07

How they promote and actively support environmental awareness with Anala.

We hear about their revolutionary set designs in collaboration with Cambridge University, and Pietra explains the way they shatter paradigms by prioritizing youth engagement programs.

2:26

We get a behind the scenes insight to the Anala journey.

We hear what happened when the pandemic hit and when we can expect to see it back at the West End.

Pietra talks about the Co creation process with Ladysmith Black, Mabaozhu, the connection with Nelson Mandela and the synergies of the messages with her work and my book Return on Humanity.

2:54

There is so much here from leadership lessons to West End productions to the empowerment of at risk young people.

Expect goosebumps.

So grab that favorite beverage or throw in those running shoes, and here is Pietra.

3:16

Pietra, thank you for being here.

This is so exciting.

I’m so excited to be recording this with you.

Thank you for joining me.

Thank you.

So you’re in a soundproof booth, but just maybe you can help our listeners just know where this soundproofed booth is and and where you are.

3:34

Where?

Where are you?

Well, you can let me know if it is.

I’m in the Ministry of Sound Members club on Borough Rd. in London in one of those apparently soundproof booths, but it is affiliated to the Ministry of Sound Dance Club so it is kind of vibrating with beats as I speak.

3:53

Well, I’ve got energy.

Yeah, that’s that’s amazing.

I have not spoken to anyone in the Ministry of Sound before, so that is wonderful.

Oh, well, that is a great kick off to this conversation because you are a legend.

4:08

You have done unbelievable things, and you’re about to make even more unbelievable things happen.

I feel like whatever you put your hand to just turns into gold.

So perhaps you can help our listeners just understand a little bit about you and your story before Sisters Grim.

Before sisters Grim.

4:25

Wow, now we’re talking, that was a long time ago, but my SO if we go right back to the beginning, I was born in Brazil and I came to England when I was 6 and I was really fortunate to go to the same academic school.

You know, I was focused on academics for 11 years, but ballet was a very serious hobby.

4:43

And I really kind of realized that if the 16 years old is the latest, you can go into kind of full time ballet training if you’re going to consider ballet as a career.

I lived in kind of the outskirts of London, in the in Surrey, in a county called Surrey.

And my mum took me to see this ballet show in the Royal Albert Hall that has five and a half thousand seats.

5:03

And it was English National Ballet.

And I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was Tamara Rojo performing with Carlos Sacrosstein, Romeo and Juliet, and we were looking through the program.

We were like at the very, very top seats still amazing, very top.

And any student that had been British had gone to the Royal Ballet School like no other school in the UK.

5:22

So I kind of that point had planted the seed that I guess it’s that school or nothing and I’ll carry on with academics otherwise.

But I was, you know, very fortunate and I got into that ballet school.

And so I went at 16, I moved to London and I started then full time ballet training and academia was after school, sort of flipped my lifestyle over completely.

5:43

At 19 years old, whilst my friends were kind of either starting university or on gap year, I was in a kind of the third year of training, looking at jobs and trying to audition.

And I got a job in the Royal Opera House at the Royal Ballet Company.

So it’s kind of like my dream company, dream outcome of the career pathway in ballet.

6:05

And I remember I was in Salt Lake City doing a school show during the Winter Olympics and six of us were given, you know, a four envelopes contracts and told when you land in London, get in a taxi and go straight to the Opera House, you’re starting rehearsals for Swan Lake for a six week tour of Australia.

6:24

Can you imagine?

I’ve been working at Boots on Sundays, a chemist in the UK and I can’t time and a half to be able to afford the point shoes that you need.

And, and suddenly we’re there contracted within, you know, seconds of receiving a piece of paper.

6:41

So it was kind of mind blowing and a whirlwind.

And that was the beginning of my ballet career.

I performed for the Royal Ballet for 13 years.

Remind me you started at how old you were?

I joined the company in 2002.

I was 19 years old and I retired when I was 32, in 2015, and the Opera House had just reopened.

7:01

It was actually closed when I was training when I was little.

I never really saw the Royal Ballet before.

I didn’t see ballet much until I joined the company.

You know, I was blessed to do ballet in a church hall with a concrete floor and no mirrors.

So I definitely had the joy of the feeling of doing something.

7:18

I think now I look back so blessed to not see me myself because it prolonged delayed the the judgement, the critical a ballet is very brutal.

So I I was just very lucky with everything up until that point.

Then something happened, so you retired.

7:35

I guess the question would be why did you retire and then how did you meet Ella?

I met Ella in 2008.

She is a composer and a painter and at the time winning prizes for composition from BAFTA, Young Artists and Channel 4 Rising Star.

7:53

And she left school at 17 and knew she was going to be Disney’s next composer.

She’s like, that’s what I’m going to do.

She had a teacher at school tell her you’re going to be a composer.

And she was like, that’s absolutely what I’m going to do.

So I met her with her composer’s hat on when I was working on a choreographic project in the Royal Ballet.

8:12

So I was sort of always considering and thinking and exploring what I do after my ballet career because I was aware it’s a very short career.

Injuries, you know, can happen at anytime.

And I was always sort of thinking about what I would do next, and I wasn’t sure what I would do.

8:28

But I was collaborating with different artists and I was interested in film, especially stereoscopic 3D filming capture to make dance more immersive and accessible.

And when I met Ella, the stars aligned because it was a rare night.

I actually had off from the ballet and went out.

8:45

I don’t really ever go to north London.

London has a kind of very clear north-south divide.

And both Ella and I are South London bunnies, we call them.

We both ended up in North London at the same pub, introduced by a mutual friend, and the composer and ballerina came together and the next day was a Sunday and we were at the Opera House.

9:04

Ella was playing the piano, I was twiddling around for hours and we were in the archive room of the Opera House looking through lots of different videos of different ballets, agreeing on it.

We sort of had quite similar tastes and scores that we liked and resonated with us.

And then she became the composer for a film project I was working on.

9:23

We started producing together together for that project that she got the score recorded at Abbey Road.

She identified in me that I was a producer before I knew it was a job.

I could be, you know, she’s a very big networker.

She’d already been working in the film industry.

9:39

So it was after that project at the Royal Opera House that we formed Sisters Grim in 2009.

You know what just you say?

And we formed Sisters Grim into that and my whole body just went goosebumps.

What is Sisters Grim?

9:55

And perhaps that then brings us to Inala and the story.

So we both loved what the Brothers Grimm did to actual brothers who went around were the first people to kind of capture and document folk tales in that way, and those stories are still relevant today and resonate today.

10:13

The first project we were working on as the Sisters Grimm was Rapunzel, the final chapter seen from the witches, the woman’s eyes.

But we sort of like the idea of continuing folk tales and traditions in a way that’s appealing today to continue that storytelling.

10:30

On a side note, I’m an only child and Ella is the eldest of 6, so she jokes that she had room for one more and I was keen to expand my family circle so we became the Sisters Groom.

Our first project of Sisters Groom was a film project of Rapunzel, the final chapter at the Opera House.

10:47

While working on that that Ella took me to see a concert of Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Cadogan Hall, all male acapella.

Zulu choir who worked with Paul Simon during apartheid to create the Gracelands album, which then through the world’s eyes upon this choir and country in a way that perhaps hadn’t been done before.

11:08

It’s sort of known, it’s said that that album contributed to the end of apartheid, that the regime.

So she took me to see this concert and she always wanted to work with them.

She already was working with many African musicians, but it was a dream of hers to work with them.

11:24

We could see that there was a space for collaboration with a lot more swear words than this.

She came to see me in the Royal Ballet and just said where the beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

Are many black people, black dancers?

She the sort of lack of diversity really hit her in a way she had not been accustomed to before growing up in Gloucester where she grew up.

11:46

Very diverse city.

We could see that in in mainstream entertainment, it is sort of segregated.

We have world music over here, pop music over there or ballet over there.

And so we wanted to create something that would unite artistic disciplines that would have more diversity on stage and in the audience.

12:04

And so that was the start of In Allah, which means abundance of goodwill in Zulu.

And it’s what Joseph Shabalala called his Zulu Ballet.

And really it was then in 2009 that we began collaborating with Lady Smith, Blackman Basso, and that was Sisters Grimm’s first major world show.

12:22

In 2009, we invited Mambazo to come to the Opera House to watch a ballet after we’d seen their concert, and it was the first time they’d been into the Opera House.

They sort of wanted to work together.

So then Ella and I went to South Africa, and Ella sat at the piano with ladies, with Mambazo, with Joseph, and began writing the music.

12:43

That’s how our shows always begin, with her collaborating with artists from different countries on the soundtrack.

And it’s very much, you know, 5050 collaboration, and they worked together creating the album.

And then we brought in the choreography and turned that soundtrack into the show.

13:01

So that album was completed in 2013 after sort of four years of working on it.

In 2014 we opened the show at the Edinburgh International Festival and in 2016 the show the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy.

13:17

But the show, since its first world premiere, just had standing ovations and critical acclaim and was invited on the Royal Variety Performance broadcast in its first year.

Ella and I have a little story.

Ella and I remember being opening night.

There was an event in the interval, but it was right at the top of the theatre at this bar.

13:35

And we didn’t leave early enough to get backstage.

And it’s the Edinburgh Playhouse is the largest theatre in Europe.

It’s huge.

And we were at the top and we had to run down the steps, you know, to go backstage.

And there wasn’t one seat in the house available for us to jump into.

And the curtains started to open.

13:52

And we just found ourselves having to sit down and huddle on these steps at the top of the theatre and watch the show from there.

And then at the end of Act 2, when the curtains closed, the whole audience just stood on its feet.

There was a massive roar.

And we were like, Oh my God, we did it.

14:07

But then we had to run backstage to take the curtain call.

But that was like, that’s still today gets me, you know, since Goosebumps.

It was, it was unbelievable in that moment to see the reaction because we’ve been so involved in it for five years.

And then to see kind of that come to life was amazing.

14:24

What was it do you think, or what is it that captured people’s hearts in that way?

Why?

Why was it so emotive and something that was so different?

Nothing like it had ever been done before.

It was the first time that these artistic disciplines and companies and successful, you know, superstar companies had been brought together in in that way at all.

14:50

It was the first time dancers from Royal Ballet and Rhombare, Britain’s oldest dance company, which is a contemporary dance company, we united.

It was the first time Zulu singing and a full band and dancers had been brought together in that way.

15:07

And it’s really joyful.

You know, it’s a feel good show and it’s not, you know, 3 hours of Swan Lake, which there’s space for over here, but it’s sort of, I’ve done lots of those and I think it just had everyone at the end on their feet dancing as well.

15:22

Just feels good and you can you feel transported to somewhere else.

All the songs are sung in Zulu.

It’s funny, isn’t it?

Because as you’ll see when you read my book, there’s a lot of concepts that I’m talking about, diversity being one of them, purpose being another one.

You know, the importance of being empathetic, the importance of cultural intelligence.

15:40

But you can talk about that.

It’s a bit dry, but you can experience it through stories and music and dance and, and, and, and experience, right.

And you see that and suddenly it’s like, Oh my God, And you get transported, don’t you, into another world.

16:00

And you did that through story, through dance, through music.

You you sort of opened a portal basically for people to experience something that they hadn’t experienced before.

I think everyone could connect and resonate with what they saw and what they could hear with the emotion.

16:16

We cast all colours, all shapes, all sizes, you know, from very, very tall female dancers to smaller men.

Like there’s nothing called a ballet about the show at all.

It’s very unique individuals that come together and perform as one for the majority.

16:32

You know, all of the show, the singers and dancers are together on that stage.

We had a young lad who was 17 and I’m fast forwarding now to the last time the show played in 2019.

And he was part of a Prince’s Trust initiative where we opened up 10% of our house for young people from underserved communities to experience the show for free and be part of our careers program.

16:53

And he was on an anti knife crime program.

And he came to us after the show and just told us about how he broke down into tears and he doesn’t know how he was just so moved.

He wasn’t expecting to be moved.

He, he loved it.

And he kept coming again and again.

And eventually he became an intern and then we employed him and it just, yeah, transformed his life.

17:14

Do you know what he’s doing now?

Well, and this again is a testament to the power of it.

Sadly, during the pandemic, we all our global shows were shut down.

It was a very difficult time for everyone.

And we found ourselves abroad and we weren’t working with Keelan anymore.

17:31

And we received a letter from his sister asking for a character reference.

And unfortunately he went to prison and had sort of, I think, gone back to old ways.

And so we, he’s now out of prison and he’s sort of being rehabilitated.

And we will definitely employ him as soon as he can be employed again.

17:48

Because we saw that, you know, you have to maintain that structure and keep working with somebody.

And if you remove their rock and that structure, it’s sometimes, you know, it’s very hard to mean to, to stick to that when you don’t have anything.

Talk to us just very quickly about the MBE then.

So as a result of all of this, what, what, how did?

18:07

That come about well.

Anala grew and grew and it toured internationally and we then began to produce other world shows.

Our second show was a Brazilian show and then we scaled up and have a portfolio of seven global shows.

But it’s always non negotiable to us that we have our impact program for young people running alongside our live shows.

18:30

And what that looks like is we open the theatre an hour before any other audience member is allowed in to let in our the beneficiaries of our impact program to see real time what’s going on in the world of theatre.

The sound checks, the front of house, the PR, the the jobs involved and people talk to them about their very unusual curly whirly non linear career paths to get them to their dream job.

18:54

And then they watch the show with in that context to what’s involved and who’s behind it, the people behind what they’re experiencing.

And we’ve done this all over the world.

And to date, we’ve had 8000 young people experience our shows for free and and be part of that careers program working with many charities, all abilities and from lower socio economic underserved communities.

19:16

So that I think led to us being awarded or part of that led to us being awarded MBE’s for I think it was international trade in the creative industries.

But we know it was a huge impact program as well.

Our last performance before the pandemic in London was at the in the UK was in the Royal Albert Hall.

19:37

So having come full circle from the first show I watched in London as a 15 year old to then seeing Inala, our baby scale to kind of take on an arena of that size with even critics commented on the diversity in the house, people with their mobile phone torches out dancing was absolutely what we knew the show could, could be and scale to and we had over 1000.

20:05

Young people and their families come to see that show sitting in some of the best seats in the house, you know, throughout the house, evenly spread.

And I think that was a momentous occasion.

It was during Black History Month and on World Ballet Day.

That’s our favorite memory of Banana, one of them.

20:21

And then COVID hit, you know, I just can’t even imagine because it’s like everything’s building up, building up, building up, building up.

You know, you’ve, Oh my God, you know, you’re from a diversity point of view and what you guys believe in and, and using your power to be able to impact lives, but also being able to do what you want and what you were born to do, you know, realizing your purpose.

20:45

And then COVID, I mean, talk to us about the challenges that you faced and then where that took you.

Well, I sold my house to put money into the company.

I did that to keep us going.

Yeah, with live entertainment paused everywhere indefinitely, and we had contracts to tour Japan, China, and touring was impossible.

21:08

So it was a very challenging time where we had to, you know, literally pull out the glossary in your book, Philipper, of all the key qualities a leader should have, resilience, tenacity, create creative problem solving.

We did all of that.

And we came up with new IPS to kind of continue our mission.

21:27

They were digital.

One was a youth art initiative called Art in Nature that we launched in the UAE, which is where we found ourselves for two years.

We moved there, so we launched this program in the UAE.

It did very well.

Then we were commissioned to run it in Australia and we’re now running that in the UK.

21:46

And it’s an initiative that is free for all under eighteens.

But to engage young people in a creative task, we want them to step away from screens for a moment to to engage with the nature around them, which we all know has multiple benefits for your well-being, but to think about the themes of the programming depending on the country it’s in.

22:07

And then they submit a photo of their artwork, which we upload onto a beautiful searchable online gallery and they receive a certificate of participation.

But the reason they take part is because the winning selected artworks become an animated music video that Sisters Grim produces that’s been seen by millions, created with an artist from the country.

22:26

So it’s has a track record of successfully engaging diverse young people and has won awards for kind of being a top educational initiative.

Previously we’ve really focused on climate change with it, but in London, Inala is presenting it in the UK.

22:42

Sorry, Inala is presenting UK art in nature.

So the theme is hope and that unthinkable change can happen.

And we will launch the music video on the day that Mandela was inaugurated, May 10th.

And it’s sort of educating on apartheid because I think many young people don’t know about it, don’t know what it means.

23:00

It’s not really in the school curriculum.

And I think there’s so much to learn, as Mandela said, that, you know, through accepting our past and knowing about it, you can move forwards with hope.

And, you know, as we all know, Mandela was, but young people don’t that he was in solitary confinement for 27 years and a regime did come to an end.

23:19

And I think there’s so much positivity in learning about that through this artistic activity that yeah, we’re that’s what we’re running.

And we’re already receiving so many artistic submissions.

And Endeava Mandela, who was raised by Madiba so is supporting the project as well.

23:37

So it sort of feels like all the dots have connected, the things that we came up with and launched during the pandemic and now intrinsically all feeding back to our live shows as well.

God, it’s just so crazy because, as you know, my uncle was Nelson Mandela’s doctor when he came out of prison and started negotiations with the apartheid government, and my uncle Annette knew Madiba really well.

24:00

I grew up in Canada, but I was born in South Africa and went to go and see my family in South Africa.

And the exposure to the stories about the struggle of apartheid, but also just the stories of life in a place like South Africa are so completely different to life in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

24:19

You know, it was that humanity, basically, and that inspiration of what it means to fight for something, to believe in something, to put all of your effort into changing a system or using your privilege to be able to challenge something that’s broken.

24:39

And I’ll be honest, it was my uncle’s experiences and stories and the influence from him and my aunt that created what I do professionally, but also this book.

And so it’s just so fascinating how you’re talking about all of this and you’re going to see when you read the book, there is a sub chapter about why apartheid even happened, where that came from.

25:03

I talk about that.

And actually the link with the work that my uncle did, he was physician.

So, and the introduction of the book is, is just about his funeral actually, and who was at his funeral and how that experience and what I saw was the inspiration to what I do and, and also just writing this book.

25:20

So there’s so many overlaps actually with what we’re both working towards, but obviously a very, very, very different capacities and it’s just extraordinary that we came together.

I resonate with it taking sometimes seeing somebody or a person to to highlight what their story can give you your purpose.

25:38

I can be honest and Sarah was more driven by financial insecurities and a drive for security from a job, then thinking heart first, what is my mission and purpose?

And it was only through meeting Ella, who had always had that be a very big part of her life.

25:57

Her family, you know, been activist she since she was little.

She remembers her mother sitting her down on the sofa to watch Mandela’s release, to watch Mandela’s inauguration.

They protested Nestle she her mum works with refugees.

26:13

It sometimes takes somebody to say, but hang on, why are you doing that?

It’s an incredible privilege and luxury to be able to use your passions to create greater good.

And today she shared with me the speech Maya Angelou gave, which is incredibly poignant about, you know, just do good because you know that that is greater security than any bodyguard can ever provide you, that, you know, you are passing on the baton to the next people of making the world a better place, which is only on us to do, and everyone has to do it.

26:44

So for me, it was meeting Ella and beginning within Allah, realizing that you can absolutely make the world a better place through arts.

And we do.

And you do what gets you excited every day.

Right now, it’s imagining the relaunch and seeing audiences hit, seeing, you know, witnessing that wall of sound hit people in a life.

27:05

I want to see it.

I haven’t seen it.

I hope I need to see this.

London is booming and the West End is booming again, even you know, all the data says and that was 2022 up 11% revenues and attendance on the record year pre pandemic.

27:21

So I think that’s, it’s really exciting to now be focused on what was our core business activity, live shows.

Right now we’re running UK Art in nature nationwide.

So it’s seeing the stories from parents and young people coming in, sharing how having this program that’s free to take part in is, you know, has been an amazing thing for them for different reasons to be a part of.

27:44

So I think it’s sort of a mixture of what’s to come and what’s happening around me now and the impact and and being back in the UK engaging with our historic audiences here.

What are you working on at the moment?

You mentioned the.

Well, UK Art in Nature is a youth arts program which is running, but we are working to relaunch Anala as a permanent West End show.

28:08

It will be the first time our shows have been as any of our shows have been up again since the pandemic and we’re starting with Anala as a permanent West End show.

It’s toured everywhere, it’s got a huge audience and lots of love for people to return in London.

Some people have seen the show 6 times across it’s different iterations since it opened in 2014.

28:29

And now I remember in 2014 I sort of smuggled a little a three-year old girl in because she was the niece of a supporter.

And she sat on my lap and I thought oh what is Nina going to make of this?

I better whisper in her ear and keep her entertained.

And she shushed me.

She was like shh within 3 minutes and was completely engrossed.

28:48

And then she saw it when we relaunched when we had it up again in 2019.

And now it’s been 10 years since the relaunch.

She’s taller than me and just to see how she’s still remembers it.

So I just can’t, can’t wait.

To read So what stage, Talk to me about where you’re at right now with that.

29:05

So we’ve gone into production developments.

We want to, you know, reimagine it for the West End.

So there’s musical tweaks, there’s new scenic design.

The show never had sort of set before.

It was designed to pack in a suitcase and tour.

And now with being permanently in the West End, you know, the, the visual element can be scaled up and that’s an incredible additional element to the show.

29:27

So just to sidetrack, the World Economic Forum put out a post about these London architects, PLP, working with a natural material innovation lab at Cambridge University.

They had a an installation at the London Design Biennale at Somerset House and Ellis shared the post with me and said isn’t this incredible?

29:46

Wouldn’t it be unbelievable if this was the set for Anala?

Just looks incredible.

It’s 100% biomaterial.

They kind of grow everything from mycelium.

It’s ground breaking innovation, yet it’s just completely melting into the ground when it’s time, and they’re now making our set for the show.

30:04

I saw that.

I saw that.

So we’ve started working with our storyboard artist Temple Clark and, and PLP and the Natural Biomaterial Innovation Lab at Cambridge to create this incredible new world for the show.

And we’re going out to South Africa next week and we will begin sort of auditions and casting and there’s always more to raise.

30:24

So we’re also still fundraising and if anyone out there would like to help and support like, please do contact us.

So you’re working towards what date?

Here for this year of West End opening in major theatres from like the Apollo, the criteria in those smaller theatres in the West End.

30:44

And so it’s like to be announced.

Watch this space coming soon to the West.

End that’s so excited and.

It is, yeah.

What have you watched lately that has just got you thinking in a different way?

Oh, it was amazing to watch thin vendors, perfect places.

31:02

Recently, a true story, a man in Japan that cleans toilets and one of our Japanese partners was actually an exec producer on that.

And not only did it kind of remind me, we’ve done a lot of work in Japan about how much we we love that culture and country, but it was about appreciating the simple things in life and connecting to nature.

31:24

And it was, I just thought it was a beautiful film, soundscape, everything.

It really transports you to see the world through that man’s eyes and the dedication he puts into his day job, his life, and then the amount of dedication, as much dedication to his personal life, nourishing himself.

31:44

I don’t often go to the cinema.

Not many people, you know, we don’t now so much.

But it was wonderful to sort of see work at that scale and to be transported to to there.

That and Maya Angelou’s reminder of, you know, what an incredible human she was.

32:01

And to be reminded that it should be everyone’s driver should only be to do good and impact others in a positive way.

It’s.

The things in life that matter, right?

And where we need to focus, it’s not the external things.

It’s, it’s, it’s knowing yourself and it’s, it’s what drives you and what makes you happy and how can you impact other people around you and, and what does that look like?

32:24

And I think it was a lesson in patience, not because the film asked for it, just that things take time.

And I think that’s what I’ve come to terms with, that it just will take as long as it takes, but there is no other direction for it to go other than towards your goal if you keep going.

32:41

And making it happen.

So I love quotes, and perhaps this quote is the one that you’ve just given me, the one from Maya Angelou.

But I do love just to sum up what we’ve been talking about and to inspire.

People, given we’ve spoken so much about Mandela and South Africa, maybe it should be a winner is a dreamer who never gives up.

33:01

Nelson, just what you’ve said.

Yeah, which is just what you’ve said.

Yeah.

And I think it’s so easy, isn’t it?

For.

I mean, that’s also why amazing things don’t always happen because actually a lot of the time, OK, yes, it’s skill.

And of course, you know, you, you have a lot of experience with dance and you have an eye for it.

33:20

And, you know, Ella, of course, is an amazing composer.

But it isn’t just that you can be amazing at a lot of things, but to make these sorts of things happen.

Also, Nelson Mandela, 27 years and in, you know, prison and then coming out and still fighting for the world that he believed was possible.

33:41

It’s a mental game.

It’s a game of being able to have the patience and have the vision and have the purpose and believing in yourself and having that core inner strength to be like, it’s going to happen.

I know it’s going to happen and you’re going to have Covids and you’re going to have to sell your house and you’re going to have, but it’s still going to happen.

34:00

And I think you and Ella are a testament to that.

Thank you and it will outlive us.

You know, our time on this planet and our impact is so big, but dedicating your purpose to something greater means that when we’re gone, music and art lives on in people’s hearts and lives.

34:20

And Ella is both Her parents are artists and I’m a landscape painter and her father are a contemporary artist and Ella is also a painter.

And we started producing and exhibitions because they could be immersive with the score she could create.

And the artworks did exactly the same thing as our shows.

34:39

She would paint in situ in the countries that she had composed in.

I didn’t come from an artistic background in the same way.

And reading about when you immerse yourself in how many female artists you know, don’t have the recognition or do, but are only just now coming to the forefront, and especially as a female artist, woman leader, entrepreneur, you have to have even more grit.

35:03

It’s just the way of the world.

And that’s OK.

But look at what women had to go through before so that we have the privileges we have today.

And so that’s just, you know, inspiring to then know and now you must continue.

And it does.

Things take 10 to 50 plus years for stories to come out.

35:21

I was looking at little animation that I like and realizing 60 years old before even.

Got known about.

In the way it does.

So is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

Have I made it clear how much of AA jewel piece Ella is that?

35:39

I think it’s important that you find somebody that has complementary skill sets and not try to do everything on your own.

There are lots more people willing to help as well than you think.

There’s no way I could would have anything to work on if it wasn’t for Ella’s creative ideas and artistic vision.

35:57

And then that gives me some, you know, something to sink my teeth into to, to manifest.

And I think I see it and lots of people, that there is another piece to that jigsaw puzzle.

You know, it’s really lovely what you’re saying about Ella because yes, I, I love what you’ve just said.

I do think it is clear how much you both do complement each other and how necessary you are for one another and for everything that you’re doing to come to life.

36:18

You’re, you are both very much responsible for that output and how much she’s an important part in all of this.

That has definitely come through.

And I think the learning about just being aware of what you can do.

I talked about this in my book as well, but it’s just, you know, it’s so important to understand what your thing is because when you know what your thing is, then you can find those other people to compliment your thing.

36:42

I feel like we are both very lucky that we have found our thing.

And if people haven’t found it, then spend a bit of time on that because once you once you do know it and you you’ve really locked into that, it does feel like the world kind of opens and then you can find those people to compliment.

Yeah.

And I think you can find your thing through having other people tell it, tell it to you, show it to you, or to find it in other people.

37:04

And Ella always tells young people that say I, I want to work in music, how do I do it?

And she always advises, especially now with what the Internet and tech can afford, people to research and, and look at all the different avenues and people out there and find somebody inspiring who you find inspiring.

37:24

And then look at what they did and what their journey was.

And that can be often a way to your mission and purpose.

Totally and I’m.

Doing fitting the work in.

Just to compliment what you’ve said for those who aren’t able to see you.

You said she’s a jewel.

She’s a jewel.

And you sort of put your hands together.

37:39

And I just think, I hope she recognizes how important she was to your journey.

And I think that’s something to be said about leadership as a leader, our responsibility as leaders, as people who are working with people.

37:54

And I think leadership can sound a little bit top down.

And that’s not what I mean.

It’s in any kind of collaborative working environment as any kind of working with people.

Our responsibilities in those environments is to try and bring out the best in other people or to be able to see them and then to tell them and, and to be able to unlock potential that people might not even recognize.

38:15

And as someone who sees that potential, you can’t just let that go because you could just be unlocking something as extraordinary as what you and Ella have created.

And she, she saw that potential, but she did something about it.

And I just think that’s a huge skill that not a lot of people have tapped into.

38:32

And I do think it’s the responsibility as humans to do that, to try and unlock that.

And is it giving people space?

Is it pushing people to the edge?

You know, I say, you know, it’s all about pushing people to the edge of their mental maps and then just gently nudge them off.

Because when you do that, it’s like, Oh my God, I can’t do this.

38:49

Yes, you can.

You can.

You can.

And then you did.

Yeah.

Ella, I hope one day I get to meet you in London.

Amazing.

I look forward to it.

At your opening.

Oh great.

That’s, of course.

Amazing Pietra, this has been such an inspirational conversation.

39:06

I can’t wait to get this out there because I want other people to support your work as much as they can.

And of course there’s going to be links on there, but you know, for Anella to it is kicking off.

But for anyone who wants to be a part of this ground breaking relaunch, this is your opportunity and thank you for all you do.

39:25

You’re making waves.

Thank you so much.

It’s such an inspiration to talk to people who are doing that so.

Oh, thank you so much for letting me share a little.

Well, until next time.

Bye.

Hey everyone, this is Philippa again.

I hope you enjoyed listening.

39:42

Now this is your chance to get involved with Ty.

If you’re looking to create better leaders, better companies and a better world, that’s just what we do by helping leaders tap into their greatest asset.

Their humanity.

We have a number of corporate programs that impact a range of people from individuals that accompany to 500 people around a business.

40:03

Or check out my book, Return on Humanity Leadership Lessons from All Corners of the World.

You’ll find the answers to how business can truly become a positive force while remaining at the forefront of competition.

You can find all the information you need on all of this at Thai Leadership.

40:22

Dot com.

Get in touch and I can explain more.

A huge thanks to Behen Naviera for Co producing this with me and for creating the music.

I hope we’ll meet up again soon.

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