" In the Easter of 2005 in Barbados on my gran Gran's porch I became Birdspeed. I physically broke out of an invisible box by dancing to the beat of my own drum with a unique style unfamiliar to me but familiar to my genes. My body was emblazoned with anger, sadness and resentment from previous trials which led me to carry out the powerful movements that I did. I remember it like it was yesterday. My legs and arms cut through the air and gathered so much speed that I was almost afraid of what I was doing. There was no goal, my purpose was just to dance and feel something. Every movement obliterated the next and for the life of me I couldn't remember how the dance was built even if I tried. It was the moment I first freestyled, the moment I found so much peace and sense under the influence of so much chaos. It was the best feeling I have ever physically felt. And this is why I call myself Birdspeed. In Bajan slang it means "to move real fast". So it is an adverb. I am physically doing something. I am a movement. I am in the process of becoming what I want to be. I am never still. The world is never still. Even when I stand in silence, my body is doing a dance so complex I am still trying to understand it." (Birdspeed, 2007).
Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa aka Birdspeed was born in South East London, England to a proud West Indian heritage. She was raised in both Barbados and in England and uses her ancestry, memories and socio political narratives to compose her artistic practices. Birdspeed is an award winning public speaker, storyteller and spoken word slam champion, she has choreographed for the likes of Damian Marley and is known for her high intensity African dance style. Birdspeed's aesthetic is a traditional style of storytelling infused with an expressive performative style.
Birdspeed became Safiya's spirit for performance in 2005 (as stated above in an extract from her diary.) She attended the Royal High School, Bath, and continued her education at Bath College where she emerged as a political and motivational speaker as the Equality and Diversity Officer and then President of the Student Union the following year. She achieved a first degree at the University of Leeds in BA Cultural Studies and then an MA in Dance Cultures at the University of Surrey. Her thesis, which focuses on the corruption and devaluation of movement within the black female body in popular culture, set in motion her courage to bring her critique to the masses as well as academics.
Birdspeed, was writing songs from the age of 7 though added rap to her repertoire officially in 2010 and then poetical spoken word in 2016. Always a naturally gifted dancer, Birdspeed developed her own unique dance style which can be described as a hybrid of African dance and modern contemporary dance styles. At age 14 Safiya was discovered by the Swindon Dance Academy where she trained until 2009, nurtured by her mentors and world renowned dance teachers Safiya was exposed to a beautiful new world of artistry. Despite starting professional dance training late (compared to most professionally trained dancers) Safiya's drive and dedication was demonstrated by studying dance technique for long hours whilst juggling her studies to achieve the professionalism required of a dancer.
As a cultural theorist Birdspeed has created her own unique platform to provide a fresh new voice to black feminism. Her vision has always been to unite academia and artistry to provide rich displays of cultural integrity and to be the artist she always wanted to see as a young girl.
"Being a black feminist does not mean I only care for black women and it does not mean I speak for all black women. It means that I acknowledge the trials and tribulations unique to the black woman, but that my work still has the potential to cast shadows on other political activist movements from other feminist and humanist groups. I do not tolerate any form of racism or sexism and chose myself as a vessel for artistic movement as I know the power of self reflection." (Bath Chronicle, 2009).
CV available on request.