Movement of the People
York Theatre Royal, 1 & 2 November, 7.30pm
Internationally-acclaimed Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre present Windrush: Movement of the People, which marks the 70th Anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush to the UK, at York Theatre Royal on 1 and 2 November.
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 says: “I want to capture both the excitement and the upset of this significant event. Windrush highlights 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 SS Empire Windrush. Busy and excited scenes are juxtaposed with personal stories – family farewells and people left behind. The 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.
Sharon continues: “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. 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 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’.
From 1948 to the present day; from calypso to R’&’B 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 Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe by Aletta Collins and Shadows by Christopher Bruce.