By Marine Saint, Features Columnist and Sub Editor
Epigram spoke with members of the FUZE creative team to gain an insight into the organisation and what viewers can expect from their upcoming annual show this summer. As a non-profit charity, FUZE is renowned for supporting emerging young talent in creative industries whilst raising money to help combat key social issues. FUZE is returning to Bristol in June after a highly successful Valentine’s tour of the UK during February and promises an eclectic and diverse showcase of fashion, music, and dance.
FUZE originated as an annual charitable music arts show in the South West but expanded across the UK last year to bring events to London in collaboration with the music dating app POM. Over the past three years, FUZE has culminated a year’s worth of community fundraising events and workshops into its annual show, with last summer’s ‘Utopia’ event taking Lakota by storm. In recent months alone we have seen the impressive expansion of FUZE within Bristol, with their Valentine’s event at the Lanes, Berlin Berlin techno performance and Haus of Horrors Halloween party at Lakota, as well as dance industry masterclasses with professionals Kaea Pearce and Charlie Bedford.
When asked about the recent expansion of FUZE, Managing Director Pippa Adamthwaite-Cook told Epigram how this year’s committee saw a need outside Bristol for events and communities such as those which FUZE champions. FUZE has increased the reach of their brand and have great pride in the work of their marketing team in increasing the visibility of their talent and partner charities through social media and their national launch. Adamthwaite-Cook stressed that even with their UK launch, ‘FUZE’s home will always be within Bristol and the legacy of the people that have come before us remains, with the annual flagship show being produced by a new creative director each year.’
From today at 7pm, general release tickets are available for FUZE’s annual show, which is titled ‘Genesis’ and marks seventeen years of sell-out events for the organisation. On 16 and 17 June, one of Bristol’s most popular clubs, Lakota, will be transformed for two nights into what we can expect to be one of FUZE’s most ambitious shows to date. Tickets for the show vary from seated, standing, and front row/VIP, yet each option guarantees an immersive celebration of self-identity and expression for all attendees.
The Creative Director of FUZE, Styli Omirou, expressed the long term support FUZE has received from Lakota as a key partner in fulfilling their needs and adapting their space for the annual show. Omirou elaborated on this partnership and explained to Epigram what FUZE envisages for this year’s performances at Lakota: ‘We work as a synergy in producing events that are accessible to everyone and embrace all communities. This year we are fully transforming Lakota Gardens and we’re building not just one, but two 360° stages. This will maximise the audience’s experience, enabling them to feel part of our Genesis journey.’
One of Bristol’s most popular clubs, Lakota, will be transformed for two nights into what we can expect to be one of FUZE’s most ambitious shows to date.
The theme of Genesis encapsulates the experience of the event for both the audience and the FUZE team, representing a journey of self-discovery on the foundations of equality, diversity, and inclusivity. FUZE has named their creative performance space Utopia, with the aim, as Omirou explained, for ‘each individual to embrace who they truly are and live as the best version of themselves unapologetically.’
The creative directors of FUZE have conceived a performance experience which empowers the audience and cast and takes the form of an innovative fashion musical. The show continues FUZE’s tradition of boycotting fast fashion by showcasing upcoming designers as part of their runway, accompanied by local talent in music and a dance team who have been intensively trained by both emerging choreographers and established industry names.
A plethora of dance styles such as Voguing, Afrobeats, Commercial, and Hip Hop are employed as part of the show’s choreography, and the production overall takes its inspiration from prolific shows such as Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show and Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054. In line with its talent development strategy, FUZE enables cast members to progress further into the production team and reach director roles, as with Styli Omirou, who started as a cast member before becoming dance director, and now Creative Director.
Working to encourage up-and-coming artists on the stage and behind the scenes to create professional opportunities is at the heart of FUZE’s representative and creative community values. Equally, FUZE strives to maintain their strong charitable ethos, working in partnership with charities to raise awareness of pervading social issues such as racial discrimination, homophobia, transphobia and mental health. This year, FUZE is working with the Black South West Network (a Bristol-based and Black-led racial justice charity organisation), akt (the national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity), and Off the Record (a mental health social movement for young people in the South West).
FUZE chooses to work with charities which reflect their values of inclusivity, diversity, sustainability, and creativity. Their mission is to reconnect young people to charitable causes and they ultimately aim to be one of the UK’s largest non-profit organisations. Utopia, last year’s sold-out show at Lakota, raised an impressive £23,500 for charity, illustrating the vast success of FUZE’s fundraising aims. FUZE has an admirable and long-standing history of supporting charities, as over the past two decades the organisation has donated over £125,000 to charities as a result of their events.
The dedication to charity and creativity is exemplified in FUZE’s team of volunteers who make up the entire cast and creatives. FUZE strives for total equality and inclusion during their selection process and actively ensures that audiences feel represented on stage. FUZE has a history of working with Bristol students as part of their production, creatives, and performance teams and offers the exciting opportunity for future career development through potential scouting from their global partner Select Model Management.
The casting selection for performers takes place on a yearly basis in October with an industry panel audition process, an inclusive method of recruitment based on dance, music and fashion. Searching for the behind-the-scenes team is also a crucial part of FUZE’s plans, as they look for passionate volunteers who are committed to the organisations’ mission and values. FUZE evidently has great pride in their team, as Omirou told Epigram:
‘I feel so honoured to be working with such a talented team this year; everyone has something special to bring to the table creating a supportive culture that pushes us to achieve our goals. It is such a pleasure to work with such a diverse group of professionals, who each draw upon individual life experiences and reflect this within their creative process.’
Featured Image: Alice Sutton
Will you be attending this year's annual FUZE show?