Ayanna Witter-Johnson

Composer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson has scored a new dance-infused show for the Manchester International Festival. But what music makes her dance like no-one is watching?

Dance Gazette | Playlist | Issue 1 – June 2021

1 Beep Me 911
by Missy Elliott ft. 702 & Magoo

Anything by Missy and Timbaland is a definite for me. I think it’s the high-hat rhythm, but it’s infectious and makes me feel so good! I start moving in mysterious ways and instantly imagine myself being this badass street/hip-hop dancer. Living my dreams with this one.

2 Jamming
by Bob Marley

A completely different groove, but this song makes me feel so rooted and spacious in my body and soul. I love love love letting go and vibing to this one.

3 Rise Up Riddim 
by Ayanna Witter-Johnson

This tune was born out of a song of mine called Rise Up. It’s an instrumental vibe that takes the heart of Rise Up, a dancehall rhythm and just focus in on the groove. It really lights me up and totally connects me to my body.

4 Tous les mêmes
by Stromae

I absolutely adore the French language and I love Stromae. This song is my favourite of his and totally makes me dance like no-one is watching. There are so many genres all rolled into one. I hear the Caribbean, pop, dance and French chanson all at once – glorious! 

5 U Don’t Know Me
(Like U Used To)
by Brandy

Brandy was one of my RnB sheroes growing up and she’s still a queen! I used to love dancing to this song, and still do today when I want to move and feel good in myself. The beat and syncopation are so strong, it’s hard not to move to it. I would love to hear this performed live with a drum ensemble – incredible! 

Ayanna Witter-Johnson composed the score for
The Global Playground, a production for children and families
by Theatre-Rites at MIF21 from 2–18 July. mif.co.uk

Big Picture post

Tamara Karsavina

Dance Gazette

Read more

REST OF Issue 1 – June 2021


Fan fiction

American writer Brandon Taylor: brilliant young novelist and ballet nerd.


Begin again

It’s time to reset the dance industry. What do young dancers hope and expect?


Forever Amber

Australia’s star ballerina on coaching for The Fonteyn and passing it forward.


Breaking the mould

As breakdancing hits the Olympics, we meet b-boys and girls in South Korea.


Step change

From dancewear to touring and the RAD’s new HQ: can we dance the world greener?


Fresh faces at the lake

Can leading contemporary choreographers rethink Swan Lake?

Big Picture post

Tamara Karsavina

A rare portrait of the legendary Russian ballerina has been gifted to the RAD.

Advice Bureau post

Lachlan Monaghan

The former Genée medallist, now with Birmingham Royal Ballet, says: be brave and be you.

RAD Q&A post

Kathrina Farrugia-Kriel

The Head of Research from the RAD Faculty of Education co-edits a new guide to contemporary ballet.

Inside RAD post

David McAllister

The former director of the Australian Ballet receives the RAD’s highest honour.

Why Dance Matters post

Xander Parish

The Mariinsky Ballet principal describes turning his career around.