Our Digital Programme 2021 was produced as a creative response to the many difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic presented. It continues to disproportionately affect Black and ethnic minority communities in the UK and across the globe.
The brutal murder of George Floyd followed by the protests in 2020 affected all of us on a personal level. Phoenix is a company founded by three Black men, and this Digital Programme aimed to give a space and a platform to three Black choreographers, to nurture heir talent and vision, in line with the ethos out of which the company was born almost forty years ago.
Miguel Altunaga, Kennedy Mutanga Jr and Carlos Martinez worked with our company dancers. Through the pressures of multiple lockdowns and the precarious circumstance of life under a pandemic, they were able to explore their own practice and unleash their creativity as choreographers and artists. These exciting short dance films, each of them distinctly separate, are the fruits of this journey.
Born in Cuba, Carlos graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Ballet de Cuba in Havana taking part in various competitions and international dance festivals and working with many established choreographers and dancers including Fernando Alonso, Carlos Acosta, and Mikhail Baryshnikov. On joining “Ballet de Camagüey” in Cuba he danced soloist roles in Coppelia, Giselle, Flores en Genazo. After “Ballet de Camagüey” Carlos joined “Danza Contemporanea de Cuba” where he performed works by Sasha Waltz, Rafael Bonachela, Mats Ek and Itzik Galili amongst others, receiving the “Luna” award for his role in Carmina Burana at the National Auditorium in Mexico City. During this time Carlos began to teach professional dancers and to create his own work. He went on to be a founder member of two projects, Ebony Dance Company and MalPaso Dance Company where he became Artistic Director, Choreographer and Principal Dancer collaborating with the Joyce Theatre in New York and National Ballet of Cuba.
Additionally, Carlos was awarded a special nomination at the Iberamericano Ballet “Alicia Alonso” competition for his role in Anoxia by Osnel Delgado and became a finalist in the Gran Prix Vladimir Malakhov for his choreography Equilibrium. During this time Carlos was offered several scholarships for companies in France and the USA. Afterwards he worked as a freelance practitioner in Scotland where he worked with Janis Claxton.
Carlos joined Phoenix Dance Theatre in November 2016. He is a member of the International Dance Council (CID). Carlos’ film is in collaboration with Company Dancer Manon Adrianow.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Miguel trained at the National School of Art in Havana. After six years with the Cuban National Contemporary Dance Company where he performed as a principal dancer, Altunaga moved to the UK and joined Rambert in 2007.
At Rambert, Miguel has performed works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Wim Vandekeybus, Hofesh Shechter, Wayne McGregor, Gary Stewart, Merce Cunningham, Christopher Bruce, Itzik Galili , Siobhan Davies, Doug Varone, Barak Marshall, Lucinda Childs, Marion Motin, Alexander Whitley, Ben Duke, Shobana Jeyasingh, Malgorzata Dzierzon, Andonis Foniadakis, Mark Baldwin and Benoit Swan-Pouffer.
Miguel has worked with other international choreographers including Mats Ek, Steve Paxton, Joaquin Sabaté, Jan Linkens, Georges Céspedes, Julio Cesar Iglesias, Samir Akika and Exedia Dance Company (Greece).
As a choreographer, Miguel has created work for the National School of Ballet, Cuba, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and for the bands Simply Red and The Zutons. He created Memoriafor Carlos Acosta at the London Coliseum and was commissioned to create Derrumbe for Acosta’s Cubania evening at The Royal Opera House.
He was commissioned by Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, to create Dark Eye for the Deloitte Ignite Festival 2014 (The Royal Opera House). In 2016 he was commissioned by the Tate Modern to create a work which was shown alongside the retrospective exhibition of Cuban artist, Wifredo Lam, and throughout 2016/2017 Miguel collaborated on a trilogy of choreographic works with German visual artist Michaela Zimmer.
He has also created five works for Rambert’s Evening of New Choreography and one of these pieces, Don’t Think About It, joined Rambert’s repertoire. In 2018 he was commissioned by Danza Contemporanea de Cuba to create a piece for the company titled Mas alla del Polvo (Beyond Dust).
Kennedy Junior Muntanga
Kennedy Junior Muntanga is a movement artist born in Ndola, Zambia where he resided until he was 7. Moving to Leeds (UK), Kennedy’s passion for movement came from his wholesome relationship between dance and culture. The importance of dance was already embedded in him through his African heritage, which he began to study from the age of 12. Kennedy furthered his training and graduated in Ballet and Contemporary Dance at the Rambert School in July 2019. So far, he has worked for companies such as Phoenix Dance Theatre, Humanhood, Robert Cohan, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Alesandra Seutin & Raman Schlemmer. Kennedy enjoys jazz music, and the blending of cultures and choreography which he hopes to explore further in the future.
EBO is inspired from Yoruba and Afro-Cuban ceremonies, tales and culture whilst paying tribute to our ancestors and to all those who have lost their lives in the current pandemic.This work evokes the Pantheon of Gods, superior forces, the energies to cleanse and heal the world from chaos. In order to achieve the great cleansing of the world from chaos and death, a God’s last dance of offerings and sacrifices is needed.
The choreography was born from a dream, a dream of human rights, women’s power and an end to racism. Kardec was a man of change, a man of great knowledge and spirituality.
“We will meet in a better world, and in the great sky, where we will use our most precious faculties; we will continue the studies for which the Earth is not yet a prepared field. We are most grateful to know this truth, than to believe that the whole body and soul are annihilated with the cessation of an organ’s functioning. Immortality is the light of life, as this sun is the light of nature”.
The Ones that Went This Way and That explores the never ending cycle of the displacement of human beings all over the world. The film explores the rush, panic and unsettling experiences facing those who are displaced.