“Dance theatre doesn’t come much better than this”
North West End
This autumn audiences will glimpse what the first generation of Caribbean immigrants experienced when they came to England 70 years ago, in the major new Phoenix Dance Theatre production: Windrush: Movement of the People.
These new arrivals, known as the Windrush generation, named after the ship the SS Empire Windrush which brought 492 people from the Caribbean to the UK in 1948, marked the start of the post war immigration boom which was to radically change British society.
This exciting new contemporary dance piece by Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, focuses on some of the first Jamaican people who came to Britain. Beginning with the departure of the SS Empire Windrush, busy, excited scenes are juxtaposed with an emotional duet as a pregnant lady isn’t allowed to board, and is left behind on the dock side. The dance piece captures the traveller’s first glimpse of Tilbury Docks, and is inspired by the iconic images of them filing off the gang plank. They could not have envisaged the impact their journey would have on the social and cultural fabric of the UK.
Windrush: Movement of the People eloquently captures the daily insidious exclusion and racism the newcomers faced; faceless dancers use subtle gestures to cleverly create uncomfortable and unforgettable characters and scenes. But, supported by a thrilling and diverse soundtrack, with original music by Christella Litras, we see how Jamaicans began to create their own opportunities, setting up churches and establishing a ‘black culture’ which is now part of British style. In a touching duet, we see families left behind reunited in their new homes.
Sharon Watson said: ‘Windrush highlights both the struggles and good times the Jamaican community experienced during those early years. She added, ‘It is an uplifting dance production that is not only enjoyable, but will shine a light on an important era of the history of black people here in the UK.’
The original music score by Christella Litras is funded by the PRS for Music Foundation’s Open Grant.
Premiered: Feb 2018