Backstage at FUZE UK’s ‘Genesis’: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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By Marine Saint, Deputy Editor 2022-2023

FUZE returned to Lakota this summer with what was undoubtedly their most impressive and inclusive performance to date. Epigram was able to catch up with the cast and creatives and caught a glimpse of the vibrant and lively backstage atmosphere before having the privilege of experiencing their final show.

There was an added level of adrenaline and equally nostalgia for the last Genesis performance, an accumulation of nine months of incredible dedication and collaboration from this year’s team. Bringing together an effortless blend of dance, music, and fashion, Genesis lived up to its etymology by both highlighting the core values of FUZE: equality, diversity, and inclusivity, as well as marking the start of a new strand to their immersive performance experience taking inspiration from the festival scene.

Located outdoors at Bristol’s popular music and clubbing venue, Lakota, FUZE installed a marketplace, bar, and zine stand as well as their impressively constructed 360° stage. Creative Director Styli Omirou explained the direction of branding this year to Epigram, with more industry events to compete against and many festivals occurring at the same time. With the reassuring return to in person events in full swing this summer, it was nonetheless clear that FUZE keeps growing from strength to strength and is shaping the way for inclusive and visionary fashion performance events.

Indeed, FUZE: Genesis highlighted some of the best rising stars and local talents in the fashion industry with the seamless continuous support of dance, music, and lighting catering to each style. The event exemplified the designers’ multicultural influences, a commitment to sustainability, and a long-needed transformation of the modelling industry to showcase all body types.

A definite highlight for me was the ethereal Fairy Tong London’s ‘Sunshine Magic Midi Dress’ which encapsulated the modern romantic. In a similar vein, the dreamy tulle pieces from ‘That’s Sew Maisie’ were expertly modelled and styled, a particular favourite being one of the final pieces shown by Fashion Director Nell Cox.

Courtesy of Scherry Visuals

‘Wavey Yarns’ was another standout collection, worn by talented freestyle singer LilPixie B in her ‘Breakthrough’ number. The individuality as well as connection between all the models was palpable for the audience, with an unmatched empowering effect as the crowd and cast all followed each performer’s journey.

LilPixie B wearing 'Wavey Yarns | Dakota Strange Visuals

Each number in the performance was considerately curated to reflect each stage of the Genesis self-discovery journey and allowed for the music talent to model pieces as well as share their new work. Mia Abel’s soulful ‘Cross’ as well as Rhiannon ft. GUY’s upbeat ‘All the Diamonds’ were definite highlights, as well as Ed Staal’s lively and charismatic ‘Back Together’ paired with the elegant House of Hersey models.

Credit must be given to the highly talented dancers and choreographers, who opened the show with a sleek, bold, and strong performance, with many of the dance team triple threats who also performed as singers and models throughout the show. The styles of dance varied throughout, with awe-inspiring pole dancing as well as highly upbeat and engaging voguing, heels, and hip hop in different numbers.

The movement predominantly presented commercial influences which generated a potent energy on stage and in the crowd, a testament to the collective’s months of training and rehearsals. Dancer Barbarra Perri, taking part in her second year of FUZE, emphasised the dedication and commitment from those involved with the show, which she considers to be one of the best FUZE casts. The show certainly delivered the representation, elite standard, and high energy Perri guaranteed, and reflected the sense of belonging and identity which she herself found throughout the experience.

FUZE encapsulated representation for all in their Genesis show and a celebration of talent and power beyond the mainstream of creative industries. This was a view repeated and resounded amongst the cast and creatives Epigram spoke with, as Omirou expressed how FUZE embraces self-identity and discovery with shows that push people to be the best version of themselves.

Models wearing 'Mitra The Label' | Scherry Visuals

Pippa Adamthwaite-Cook, Managing Director, encapsulated this feeling of family, tolerance, and acceptance at FUZE with their aim to translate the message to audiences that ‘no matter who you are, you are beautiful’. Adamthwaite-Cook spoke candidly about the challenges that come with engagement for an organisation post-lockdown and the effort needed to transform FUZE into a structured and professional environment over the years.

The Managing Director relayed to Epigram how rewarding it is to see the growth of the creative team across the process of putting together the final show, which brought together about 120 people in its cast and team. According to Adamthwaite-Cook, FUZE nailed the blueprint for a fully immersive and professional show last year, and this year aimed to fittingly ‘fuse’ all elements of the performance together into a fluid piece.

As all those involve work voluntarily and in support of and for the first time in long-term collaboration with three important charities, Black South West Network, akt, and Off the Record. This was incorporated into the show with a notable statement of trans rights and the creation of spaces for activists through visibility. Learning about the process behind ‘Genesis’ and experiencing the show itself was a highly empowering occasion and overall a standout in this year’s Bristol’s creative scene.

Featured Image: Scherry Visuals


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