From choreographing Beyoncé’s Grammy Award-winning music video for “Brown Skin Girl”, to being named artistic director of London’s 180 Studios and founder of artists’ incubator CRXSS PLTFXRM, Ivan Michael Blackstock has well and truly earned the title of cultural innovator.
Born in South London, he got his start as a professional dancer, helping craft music videos with Dizzee Rascal and Neneh Cherry. Following a successful commercial career, he co-founded Bird Gang Dance Company and developed the critically acclaimed production A Harlem Dream that ran at the Young Vic. Since 2015, Blackstock has been focused on creating thought-provoking political dance theatre, presenting work at the Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention Festival and La Villette Theatre in Paris. In 2019, his work was recognised at the inaugural 2019 NOWNESS Awards.
With the Converse x Dazed 100 grant, Blackstock would continue his work mentoring and educating the next generation of groundbreaking creatives. “I'm interested in curating cross-platform educational experiences for diverse artists and thinkers, housed in culturally relatable communities and venues,” he says. “A safe creative space that will exist under the umbrella concept of 'Pop Up Art School'”. From masterclasses led by industry professionals to online and offline conversations, networking meet-ups and DIY creative toolkits, the Pop Up Art School would serve as a unique portal to a thriving global artistic community, helping them navigate through the creative industries. Or, as Blackstock sums it up, “giving access to hidden geniuses.”
Text Zsofia Paulikovics