Boy Blue are Choreographer and Co-Artistic Director, Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Composer and Co-Artistic Director, Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante, Executive Director, Jo Stendall, Creative Learning Producer, Kathleen Murphy, General Manager, Neena Shea, and a dedicated core of hugely talented artists, dancers, teachers, partners and board members.
East London born Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante is a renowned producer, composer, singer, dancer and DJ, whose history is firmly etched in the UK black music industry, taking the sounds of sub-culture to a global audience over the course of his 20 year long career.
As co-founder and co-artistic director of Boy Blue, founded in 2001 with Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Asante is credited with the conception and composition of REDD (2019), Outliers (2018), Blak Whyte Gray (2017), The Five & the Prophecy of Prana (2013), Touch (2011), Legacy (2011) and Pied Piper: A Hip-Hop Dance Revolution (2007).
As a music producer, Asante boasts a diverse catalogue within his discography; creating music for films Street Dance 3D and All Stars, enjoying session work with new artists like Sony signing Ryan De La Cruz, to production for major label artists including Delilah, Raleigh Ritchie, Estelle and George The Poet (whose sold out Search Party tour he also delivered musical direction for). But it’s his work over the years with Kano, a Mercury Prize and Brit Award Nominee, winner of the MOBO Best Album Awards, that put Asante on the map way back in 2005; an early pioneer of the-then newly coined genre grime, a sound that would go on to shape a generation and knock down doors abroad, Asante’s influence can be heard across the capital and beyond. Trips to LA have seen him working with Kool Kojack (Ariana Grande/ Kesha) and Mike Free (Big Sean/ YG).
Beginning his career in the arts as a nine year-young schoolboy, starring in a production of Bugsy Malone, Asante in turn discovered a penchant for singing as well as acting, landing himself an agent in the process. While dance had always been a part of his life, it was at dance rehearsals with Ruff Stuff that 13-year old Mikey clocked Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy in the audience. Becoming friends, and with Sandy turning to dance, the two found themselves forming Matrix with a troupe of friends, inadvertently sowing the seeds for the birth of Boy Blue to follow. But as a teenager Asante had also acquired a taste for music production; largely attracted by the science of the analogue system, he set up a studio at his parents house, going on to sign his first publishing deal a decade later. The accolade led to Asante retiring as a dancer, driving his frustration with the requirements of creating short songs into developing longer pieces, taking hip-hop into a composer space, where, in his own words, the world would see it as “an application to creativity”.
Recent work includes composition for Tree,a Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba creation for Manchester International Festival and a collaboration with Brian Eno on Netflix’s Top Boy.
Outside of the studio, Asante mentors and delivers master classes in directing, choreography and music and is also found residing in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s faculty as a Professor of electronic music, from where, in 2018, Asante was awarded an Honorary Fellowship (HonFGS).
Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Boy Blue, Associate Artist at the Barbican London, is undoubtedly one of the most renowned choreographers and performers in the UK commercial and theatrical scenes.
Sandy’s credits are extensive having worked in TV, film and theatre, at home and abroad, alongside Boy Blue’s 2001 inception. As a choreographer he’s responsible for REDD (2019), Outliers (2018), the Olivier nominated Blak Whyte Gray (2017), The Five & the Prophecy of Prana (2013), A Night With Boy Blue (2018, 2016, 2015, 2013) and Olivier award winning Pied Piper: A Hip-Hop Dance Revolution (2007). He also co-directed and choreographed Unleashed for the Barbican (2012).
Off the main stage, Sandy collaborated with director Danny Boyle for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, winning the Evening Standard’s Beyond Theatre award. Sandy also worked on the Closing Winter Paralympic 2014 Ceremony and the 2007 Tour De France opening in Trafalgar Square, London. On screen work includes choreography on the BAFTA Awards, for All Stars and T2 Trainspotting, plus appearances on Street Dance 3D, the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance and CBBC’s Alesha’s Street Dance Stars. In 2015 he judged the inaugural BBC Young Dancer Competition. As a performer himself, his repertoire includes Legacy Re:Loaded at the Jerwood Dance House and Jonzi D’s Lyrikal Fearta Redux at Sadler’s Wells.
No stranger to the music industry, Sandy, a former UK Street Dancing Champion, has performed with Victoria Beckham, Fergie (Black Eyed Peas), Leona Lewis and George Michael to name a few. Accomplished in all styles of street dance – break-dancing, popping and gymnastics – Sandy’s also created choreography for an array of artists including FKA twigs, Rita Ora, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and Alexandra Burke. Brands have also called for Sandy’s Midas touch; work with Nike, adidas, Castrol and ASOS starring on his CV.
Born in east London, perhaps the most surprising element to Sandy’s story is that he didn’t start dancing until he was 19. With long-held dreams to be a basketball player, the course of his life quickly changed when he joined his first dance troupe, Ruff Stuff, led by MTV’s Kat B, where he soon became the trickster, thanks to his acrobatic abilities.
Fast forward and in 2017 Sandy was an awarded an MBE for services to dance and the community in the Queen’s New Years honours list, an Honorary Fellowship (HonFGS) from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2018 and in 2019, a Companionship from LIPA.
Creative Learning Producer, Kathleen Murphy, has been working in dance education for 10 years working as both a freelance dance artist and a dance programme manager. Prior to working for Boy Blue, Kathleen was Learning & Participation Manager for contemporary African dance company Tavaziva, and additionally Company Manager (Maternity Cover) for Tavaziva. Kathleen is also a swing dancer and performs and teaches in London and beyond. Kathleen originally studied BA Hons Community Arts at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London.
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General Manager – After studying Drama, Applied Theatre and Education at University, Neena has had an extensive career in participatory arts and arts admin, working in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
Most recently Neena worked at the National Theatre on the Creative Diversity Project, which encouraged the institution to work towards a more inclusive culture, both on and off stage. Neena is on the Board of trustees for Rifco Theatre Company and is passionate about black and brown art and culture.
Having been a fan of Boy Blue’s work since 2011, which included writing about them in her dissertation, Neena is beyond excited to start working as General Manager and support the company to continue to accelerate out of this universe and spread the Hip Hop love.
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Executive Director, Jo Stendall, is an experienced dance producer who has previously worked with Michael Clark Company, The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs and Theatre-Rites.
Jo is a a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, has been a judge on the Total Theatre Awards, and mentored for Arts Emergency.
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Niki qualified as an Accountant in 2004. Following 4 years working in finance in the retail sector she joined the Barbican in 2003 where she became Head of Finance in 2005. In 2007 her responsibilities were extended to Head of Finance for the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music and Drama and in 2016 her role was further extended to take on responsibility for IT. As well as the Boy Blue, Niki sits on the Board for the Gate Theatre.
Kieran Jay joined Harbottle & Lewis as a partner and head of the Music group in January 2020 from Lee & Thompson.
Kieran has represented leading artists, song-writers, producers and mixers as well as independent management, record and publishing companies, and has some of the UK’s most successful artists and A&R executives – both new and established – as clients.
He advises on recording, publishing, management, live performance and endorsement agreements, and also represents a growing number of leading music industry executives in respect of their employment arrangements.
Kieran also has significant experience in sports law having spent a number of years as a partner at Herbert Reeves & Co, working with Michael Kennedy advising leading Premiership footballers and managers, athletes and agents on playing contracts, image rights arrangements and endorsements, broadcast arrangements, regulatory and disciplinary issues.
Pam Johnson (Chair)
Pam was a professional dancer – working with DV8 Physical Theatre (1987) and Phoenix Dance Theatre (1989 to 1998).
She went on to become the Outreach Development Manager for Kokuma Dance Theatre Company in Birmingham and subsequently worked for the Northern School of Contemporary Dance to establish the institution’s inaugural Widening Participation strategy.
Pam joined Arts Council England (ACE) in 2003 as Dance Officer for North West England; became Relationship Manager Dance for Yorkshire and in 2013 she was promoted to Senior Relationship Manager at ACE London where she managed the Dance and Combined Arts teams and co-ordinated the Arts Council’s strategic partnerships with London local government. After over 15years, Pam left the ACE in March 2019 to take on a new role with Leeds City Council where she manages the city’s culture strategy.
Pam has served on the Boards of numerous cultural and community charities throughout her career and was the recipient of Young Achiever in the Arts and Woman of Achievement awards for her contributions to arts development in Yorkshire.
In 2019, Sanjivan joined Turner Contemporary, the leading gallery based in Margate, as Head of Development. Previously, he worked in the Royal College of Art’s Development & Alumni Relations team (2014-2019). He has extensive experience of the contemporary dance sector (2002-2014) as a producer and manager, having built relationships, developed partnerships, raised funds and delivered projects for some of the UK’s leading choreographer-led companies. His career began as a Business Development Analyst in global investment banks such as Credit Suisse and Citigroup. Prior to joining Boy Blue’s board, Sanjivan’s held trustee roles with South East Dance, Aurora Orchestra and Total Theatre.
Gurd Lidder is a Retail Planning/Sales Manager with over 15 years experience in planning both international Wholesale and Retail fashion marketplaces. Having worked for international retailers such as Nike, Walmart and Gap, Gurd has a long history in delivering profit and process development in an ever changing and challenging world of consumer product delivery.
In a career spanning 30 years, Dawn started in large-scale outdoor events, concerts and opera in London, before taking on her first executive role, running an arts centre in east London. Management roles for UK theatre and dance companies followed before joining CandoCo Dance Company as Executive Director for ten years. On leaving CandoCo, she joined Arts Council England as a Senior Manager at its National Office, advising on and developing international projects and national touring strategy.
In 2008, she was invited to join Sadler’s Wells in London to develop its producing & touring ambitions. As Head of Touring, she was responsible for the development of its international relationships and tour producing.
After nine years at Sadler’s, she left to concentrate on her work as an independent producer and consultant. Current clients include Manchester International Festival, alongside advisory and development roles on international projects for a range of artists and companies.
Andrea Sasu is an accomplished multi-skilled digital media professional with a wealth of knowledge in planning and delivering cross channel campaigns and digital products.
In a career spanning well over 10 years, Andrea has provided strategic and creative direction to a range of high profile brands such as ITV, Viacom, Comic Relief, and Reuters.
Sarah is an Accountant for the City of London based at the Barbican Centre.