Emily Labhart

Producer | Consultant | Mentor

#ProducerLife: O’Driscoll Collective

Alongside the Disruption project (read more on that here), I have also been working with Jamaal of O’Driscoll Collective as Producer for his brand new commission Crabs in a Barrel, in addition to securing performances of the outdoor production ONE%, and co-delivering workshops ‘Demystifying the Artist/Producer Relationship’. Find out more below:

Crabs in a Barrel

“When you’re willing to just do something because ‘that’s what men do’, even though it doesn’t really make sense to you – that’s toxic to me.” CJ Webley, co-Artistic Director of Light Post Theatre Company, interviewed February 2021.

Exploring themes of toxic masculinity, stereotypes and disruption – Crabs in a Barrel builds on the success of Jamaal’s previous work ONE% (Birmingham Weekender 2019, Breakin’ Convention 2020) and will be his first 40-minute piece.

Jamaal secured a commission for the piece in early 2020 (more details on that coming soon!) with the ambition to create and present the work later that year. Of course, that timeline had to shift due to the pandemic – however it meant that Jamaal could complete a more in-depth research period prior to getting into the studio.

In December 2020, I was successful in securing match funding for the commission from Arts Council England. The R&D of Crabs in a Barrel (CIAB) is taking place this summer, followed by a creation period in the autumn leading to the premiere in March 2022. Stay tuned for more details!



First commissioned by Dance Hub Birmingham for Birmingham Weekender 2019, ONE% is a 15 minute dance performance featuring the dynamic rawness of Breakin’. Two b-boys with colliding mental states respond to the energy of society around them, moving through emotions that can often be misunderstood.

Following the postponement of Breakin’ Convention Birmingham at The Rep (due to take place June 2020) where ONE% was due to be performed, Jamaal was invited to present the piece at Breakin’ Convention’s Social DisDancing event in December 2020 – on Sadler’s Wells main stage.

“Near super-human core strength saw them support their bodies with one hand over and over again, but they did not lose grace, and the biggest cheer of the night was theirs.” Financial Times on ONE%, 2020.

Exploring the battle between two sides of the same psyche, ONE% sees the dancers coming up against each other – not in combat, but in wary uncertainty. Poignant themes of duality of the mind and the importance of mental health awareness drive the work, to convey the power of emotion, intensity and despair through movement and music. Performed by West Midlands based artists Jamaal O’Driscoll and Marius Mates.

After seeing the piece at Sadler’s Wells, Eckhard Thiemann (Programming Associate – Dance for The Lowry in Salford) reached out to Jamaal and I to book performances of ONE% as part of The Lowry’s Circuit 2 outdoor event in May 2021. We delivered three performances across two days of the Bank Holiday Weekend, the sun stayed bright for us and we had an amazing response from the audiences. More performances of ONE% are coming this year, check out the trailer below for a sneak peek of what to expect!

Demystifying the Artist/Producer Relationship – workshop

Thanks to an introduction by Artists 4 Artists, Jamaal and I were approached by South East Dance to deliver a workshop and presentation as part of their online Mind the Gap programme.

The session included a Masterclass from Jamaal, exploring the key principles and foundations of Breakin’ as well as floorwork techniques that can be adapted to contemporary dance practice. This was followed by a joint discussion/presentation where the two of us spoke about the Artist/Producer relationship, how we first started to work together, what our roles are and how we bring our skills together to develop Jamaal’s creativity as a choreographer.

What was my role?

As Producer, my role includes:

  • Writing the bid to secure ACE funding for the R&D phase of CIAB
  • Drafting the call-out for dancers for CIAB
  • Coordinating the audition process
  • Communicating with artists and drawing up contracts
  • Drawing up the project schedule
  • Logistical planning, including: researching travel/accommodation options for dancers, studio hire, etc.
  • Building strong relationships with brand new project partners
  • Negotiating performance contracts & terms for ONE%
  • Drafting marketing copy and promoter’s packs for both ONE% & CIAB
  • Designing the Artist/Producer presentation for South East Dance
  • Managing project budgets, monitoring cash-flow and signing off all expenditure
  • Plus about 1,000 other things!

Jamaal O’Driscoll 2020. Photo credit: Marius Mates.

Despite 2020’s schedule not going to plan, Jamaal & I have been able to adapt to the current climate, find and secure new opportunities and develop new partnerships with key stakeholders that will have long-lasting impact for 2021 and beyond.

Follow O’Driscoll Collective on Instagram to stay up to date with new projects & performances coming your way soon!

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