THE FIRST EVER CONTEMPORARY DANCE TO COMMEMORATE WINDRUSH
Windrush: Movement of the People: a major new dance piece for 2018 by Phoenix
Marking the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush, the ship that brought the first large group of immigrants from the Caribbean to the UK
Internationally-acclaimed, Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre present a World Premiere as they mark the 70th Anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush to the UK.
Windrush was the ship that brought the first large group of immigrants from the Caribbean and famously began the post-war immigration boom that was to radically change British society.
Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance, and choreographer of Windrush, Sharon Watson said: “I want to capture both the excitement and the upset of this significant event. Windrush will highlight both the struggles and the good times the Jamaican community experienced during those early years. It is an uplifting dance production but it shines a light on an important era of the history of black people in the UK.’
The production begins in Jamaica showing the response to the newspaper adverts for the SS Empire Windrush; busy and excited scenes are juxtaposed with personal stories – family farewells and people left behind. The 492 immigrants were invited by the UK government, but were not always welcomed and the production will capture the daily exclusion and racism the newcomers faced.
“We know people were excited to come to the UK on the promise of work and a better life but we also know it was not the case for all. Britain was recovering from the war and needed help to rebuild the country, but the stories they told were of a bittersweet experience.” Sharon continues.
“My family were not on the SS Windrush but did come to the UK as part of that first wave of people that were to become known as the ‘Windrush Generation’.
Dancers will create unforgettable characters that take the audience from Jamaica to the UK celebrating how the Windrush generation began to create their own opportunities, setting up churches, introducing their own music and dance and establishing a ‘black British culture’.
“When I was undertaking the research for this project, I was delighted to discover that Calypso musicians Lord Kitchener, Lord Beginner, Lord Woodbine and singer Mona Baptiste were among the ship’s passengers; these major musicians were part of the story! What greater gift for a choreographer than to be practically handed a part of the soundtrack?”
From 1948 to the present day; from Calypso to RnB via Blues, Ska and Reggae, composer Christella Listras supports the story with an original soundtrack to the lives of the Caribbean British people and wider Black British Communities.
Windrush: Movement of the People fuses music and dance to create an inspiring production that uses a multi-cultural cast to tell an international story, and celebrates a culture that is now part of the country’s fabric.
Windrush will be presented alongside Shadows by Christopher Bruce and Calyx by Sandrine Monin.
Windrush tours to Curve Leicester, Friday 9 and Saturday 10 March 2018.