Mariana Marquez and Emma Zangs are quite the unexpected dance graduates. With ten years between them, and a number of interests spanning photography, food and tech, how did a degree from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance lead to… Marquez&Zangs?
Tell us about your experience of Trinity Laban.
We both studied on the MA Choreography programme in 2010-2011, where we met. Instantly, we were working together. With similar concerns about our careers, we merged from Day One.
At Trinity Laban, we found the most valuable asset was really the opportunity to create connections. We enjoyed learning about the working world, from both academic staff and external facilitators. We were also lucky enough to partake in a higher education exchange in France during our studies, so we could network and gain loads of feedback on our ideas.
Of course, the facilities at Trinity Laban were a great bonus, too. To jump into a studio and have access to that free space is a very rare benefit for young artists – especially in London.
How did you go about founding Marquez&Zangs?
The idea came to us at the end of the degree. We asked ourselves, what next? In 2011, funding cuts to the arts were a huge issue, so we soon realised that our chances of getting a job in our field were slim. We would have to create one ourselves, and, both entrepreneurial by nature, that’s what we started to do.
Since graduating, we had both choreographed a few music videos together, and had enjoyed collaborating on a few personal projects. Quickly we set about forming a business, borrowing free office space from friends to save on funding. Daily, we started discussing how to market ourselves.
This was a gradual process to begin with, for about a year-and-a-half. Mariana had her second child, and Emma had another part-time job.
So, tell us… what exactly is Marquez&Zangs?
Marquez&Zangs incorporates two sides… our choreographic services, and Meta-speech.
On the choreography side, we are currently partaking in Sadler’s Wells’ Summer University, a four-year programme which encourages collaboration with other choreographers. At the moment, we are working on a project with Jonathan Burrows, Matteo Fargion and Hugo Glendinning called 52 Portraits. Every week throughout the year, a short movement video of a different choreographer is released.
Our role at Meta-speech is acting as a public speaking consultancy incorporating movement. We found that choreography skills and the ability to interpret movement have been hugely lacking in business, so we do a lot of one-to-one coaching, mostly with tech-based organisations who pitch for funding. We refine the body language of those whose bodies may have been betraying them – particularly young Mark Zuckerberg-types who are just starting out, and are too afraid to ask for what they want. We teach them how to embody confidence.
We are now in the process of training professional public speaks across the world, and delivering TED Talks.
What does a typical day for Marquez&Zangs look like?
No two days are the same! For example, two days ago, we were interviewed by consultants for a company developing robots. They wanted to discuss body language, empathy and human movement. We have also had one-to-one clients throughout the week, including a young man who needed support preparing a talk to deliver as part of the Barclays Leadership Challenge. And on top of all this… we do admin! Thankfully we have an extra staff member to help with that. She started out as an intern for us and had experience at Sadler’s Wells, so she now works for us.
What’s been the most exciting project for you so far?
Last October, we gave a workshop at Google HQ in New York. We were coaching a team of 12 people who had a start-up – an app within Google called Primer. At the same time, we were coaching speakers as part of TechWeek. An amazing experience (and the food was amazing too)!
What’s up next for Marquez&Zangs?
At the moment, we are researching the big trend for virtual reality experiences and wearable technology; how the body reacts to those digital aspects using choreographic skills. We will continue giving workshops at companies as well as universities, including the UCL Masters in Entrepreneurship. And we will soon be speaking at a big mobile tech conference in Barcelona called 4YFN (Four Years from Now), with Emma going to a conference in Asia too, as well as demonstrating our work more widely across the UK. So in short, a lot of travel!
Finally, what advice would you give to current Trinity Laban students looking to start their own businesses?
Acknowledge how amazing the training you had is, and at the same time recognise how undervalued it can be in society. Use that to your advantage; we had to triple our prices as what we were offering was so unusual. Don’t ignore your skills, and think about how you can combine them all. There are more and more dancers entering the world, but not more and more jobs.
We would suggest that you find out what excites you. For us, that wasn’t being choreographers or performers in the standard way. Re-evaluate what’s out there all the time – be open – and create your own pathway.
And don’t think for a minute that you can enter business without reading books!
Marquez&Zangs are interested in offering freelance work to Trinity Laban students, and are always seeking people with somatic backgrounds. They have a number of public speaking events available to attend for free over the next couple of months, and would encourage Trinity Laban students to come along.
For more info, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduate Intern – Press & PR