Brum’s Poet Laureate is dancing

Jasmine Gardosi byThom Bartley

Award-winning spoken word artist, beatboxer and Birmingham Poet Laureate Jasmine Gardosi is taking her debut show, Dancing To Music You Hate, to Midlands Arts Centre on 25 May 2023.

Combining poetry, beatbox and Celtic dubstep, Dancing To Music You Hate sees Jasmine delving into themes around gender identity.

Through tracks that blend dubstep bass-lines and soaring folk violin, she sets out to boldly articulate what it feels like for someone to come to terms with their own queerness. Delving deeper, she also emphasises how everyone – straight, gay, trans or cis – can find joy and fulfilment from questioning the gender binary and its expectations: “What if you’re everything you’re supposed to be?” she challenges. “What if there are as many genders in this room as there are people?”

Joining her on stage are Alternative Dubstep Orchestra’s DJ C@ In The H@, Ire-Ish’s multi-instrumentalist Jobe Baker-Sullivan, and drummer Noemi La Barbera, plus additional guest musicians.

Jasmine Gardosi is a beatboxer, multiple slam champion and Birmingham’s first Poet Laureate from the LGBTQ+ community. Her work has appeared on BBC Four, Sky Arts, Button Poetry, and across BBC Radio while her poem about the pandemic, filmed on a rollercoaster, was broadcast across America on PBS. She has worked with such organisations as the National Trust, The Poetry Society, National Literacy Trust, B:Music, and was previously Poet In Residence at both the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Winner of numerous prizes, including the Out-Spoken Prize for Poetry and Outstanding International Entry in Button Poetry’s Video Contest, she is also a festival regular, with appearances at Glastonbury, WOMAD and Shambala.

Dancing To Music You Hate is her debut show. Commissioned by Warwick Arts Centre, it premiered at the Coventry venue in October 2021 to standing ovations, and was shortlisted for the Saboteur Awards’ Best Spoken Word Show. It went on to become Verve Poetry Festival’s best-selling event of 2022 and sold out B:Music Symphony Hall’s show at the Jennifer Blackwell Space earlier this year. The show’s titular track was also adapted by conductor/arranger Jules Buckley, and performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra, for BBC Four’s Inside Classical: A Birmingham Celebration.

Discussing her debut show, Jasmine says: “It explores gender identity and being genderqueer, but really, at its heart, it’s a set about self-expression. Struggling to express myself – whether as an anxiety-ridden kid, a teenager unable to accept their sexuality, a poet trying to find the words, or a partner trying to communicate honestly in relationships – is a common theme in my life, and Dancing To Music You Hate moves through all of these.

“Through the show, I want to offer that with radical honesty about yourself comes the potential for deeper connections with those in your life, and I’ve been blown away by the impact this message has had on an audience of all demographics. People have told me they’ve been encouraged to come out to their own family after the show, whilst others have shared that the show has validated them in their cis, straight identities and changed their perceptions of gender.

“You don’t have to be trans or gender-questioning to see or enjoy the show – this is for anyone else who’s also wrestled with self-expression and societal expectations of gender. ie. Everyone”

As to the title, she’s quick to point out that there’s nothing negative about the music.

Dancing To Music You Hate is the title track of the show – it’s a poem about being gay while surrounded by your straight friends in an uber-straight nightclub, pretending to love where you are, but just not feeling like you belong. The show is about grappling with sexuality and gender identity, as well as the musicians I’m on stage with, which is why it felt suitable as a title, but don’t worry. You won’t hate the music. The music’s actually pretty rad.”

Dancing To Music You Hate visits Midlands Arts Centre, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham on Thursday 25 May 2023 as part of a UK tour. For tickets and more information, see:


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