Black Waters

Premiered February 2020

About Black Waters:

In the late 18th century, the owners of the Zong ship attempted to claim insurance on the lives of the 130 African slaves that they threw overboard. Over 100 years later the Kala Pani prison was used by British colonial forces to incarcerate Indian freedom fighters who spoke out against the regime.

Inspired by these two narratives – Black Waters presents audiences with a wider exploration of how British colonial forces commodified people for gain, and as a consequence, saw a blending of cultures and the birth of fragmented identities for whom home has always remained a contested space.

Black Waters sees Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sharon Watson co-choreograph for the first time with the Artistic Directors of Kolkata-based, Rhythmosaic, Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta in a fusion of western contemporary dance movement and classical kathak Indian dance.

Sharon Watson said, “Black Waters is not about recreating these two events through contemporary dance, but is an exploration of place, worth and belonging, which can often be conflicting for people of colour.

Placing multiculturalism at its heart, the piece is an emotionally evocative and culturally relevant production, which shows how from despair, people find value, inspiration and hope.



“This is a thrilling and intense piece of dance theatre which is at once accessible as well as secretive and obscure”

— Rich Pickings

“Congratulations to artistic director Sharon Watson and the choreographers, costume and lighting designers for another clear illumination of our rich, shared cultural history”

— The Yorkshire Times

“The company’s athletic dancers make complex physical partner work look effortless”

— The Reviews Hub

“Incredibly moving, visceral and honest, the whole thing is quite literally, breath-taking”

— The Yorkshire Post

“anguished and marvellously nuanced”

— The Guardian