Roberta Jean returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio with Ways of Being

Roberta Jean returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio with Ways of Being

Award-winning choreographer Roberta Jean returns to the Lilian Baylis Studio this November with Ways of Being, a Sadler’s Wells commission.

Roberta Jean’s work and life has been shaped by her experience of a neuroendocrine disease that impacts mental health. Jean made the piece out of the need to create a space for those who have experienced depression and struggled with suicidal thoughts. Ways of Being is informed by historic therapeutic practices and explores alternative healing methods such as psychedelic therapy and somatic experiencing. This work is a dance of hope, inviting the audience to reflect on their own thoughts and memories. 

For Ways of Being Jean commissioned a script by the acclaimed director, writer and theatre maker Jude Christian. Jean and Christian worked in consultation with Dr Ben Sessa to develop the script. Sessa is one of the world’s leading researchers into the potential benefits of psychedelic drugs in a clinical or therapeutic setting.

The script is recorded by Christian herself, and forms part of the sound design by Jonathan Webb, a regular collaborator of Jean’s. Previously Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio, Christian is currently an Associate Artist at the Gate Theatre and in 2019 she was appointed Associate Director at Manchester’s multi-art form centre HOME.

Ways of Being is performed by an ensemble of dance artists including long-term collaborator Stephanie McMann as well as Katye Coe, Maëva Berthelot and Nicole Nevitt, and has additional creative direction from performance artist Hollie Miller.

Jean is a critically acclaimed choreographer who works collaboratively across disciplines to produce dances for a diverse range of contexts. Her choreography is centred around poetics and is often underpinned by anthropological research. Jean won the Bonnie Bird Choreographic Development Award in 2020 and has been artist in residence at Critical Path Laboratory in Sydney, Australia, Dance Limerick in Ireland, Dance City in Newcastle, Dance Base in Edinburgh, Dance4 in Nottingham and Dartington in Devon.

Roberta Jean said, “I have a neuroendocrine disease called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. PMDD is a disease that affects around 1 in 20 women and menstruators, it’s recognised as a disability in the UK. Suicide ideation is a common symptom.

The urge to create Ways of Being stems from my own experiences with mental health. I wanted to offer audiences a space of reflection rather than focus entirely on my own experience of pain, in part because I crave these types of spaces myself. Having tried a lot of standard treatments for depression and PMDD, I’ve been curious about novel therapies and approaches, in particular, psychedelic therapy research which is currently developing worldwide. During this projects development I have been engaging with Dr Ben Sessa. I have been working with Jude Christian to develop a text which accompanies the movement. I would say what the work is really about, is this hunt for ways of healing.”

Performances of Roberta Jean’s Ways of Being will be on 9-10 November at 8 pm in the Lilian Baylis Studio. Tickets are £17 and can be purchased at