Drawing inspiration from real historical events, Black Waters is an emotionally evocative new production from Phoenix Dance Theatre that explores the long-lasting effects of British colonial forces.
In the late 18th century, 130 slaves were thrown overboard from the Zong as the ship owners attempted to profit from their life insurance. More than 100 years later, Indian freedom fighters were incarcerated in the Kala Pani prison for speaking out against the regime. Black Waters reflects on these two moments in history, showing how people can find value, inspiration and hope in even the bleakest of times.
Co-choreographers Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, and Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta, Artistic Directors of Kolkata-based Rhythmosaic, cleverly combine contemporary dance with Kathak dance – one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance, traditionally attributed to ancient travelling storytellers.
Sharon explained: “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.”
Black Waters, Quarry, Leeds Playhouse
12 – 15 Feb. Press performance: Wed 12 Feb, 7.30pm
Box office: 0113 213 7700;leedsplayhouse.org.uk
Sharon Watson is the seventh and longest-standing director of Phoenix Dance Theatre. She trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance and was one of the first female Principal Dancers invited to join the then all-male award-winning Phoenix Dance Company. She toured with the company from 1989-97, returning in 2009 as Artistic Director. Sharon is a previous trustee of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and current trustee of The Place and Leeds Playhouse. She is also an artistic advisor for the Central School of Ballet. She is committed to improving diversity within the arts by supporting the creative voices of women and black and ethnic minority artists.
Shambik Ghose is a Dean’s Scholar from LeedsBeckett University and BA Dance lecturer at LeedsCity College. He has worked with, among others, the Royal Danish Ballet, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Beijing Dance LDTX, Dancecentrum in Sweden, Innoprom in Russia and India, and Attakkalari Biennial.
Dr Mitul Sengupta is a National Scholar in Kathak Dance, awarded by the Indian Ministry of Culture, and a Fellow in Kathak Dance at the Kalakritti Sanskritti Foundation in New Delhi. A research scholar at the University of Calcutta, she has helped to raise the profile of movement therapy in India. She began dancing at the age of five, going on to train with great exponents of Kathak Dance, as well as leading lights in Classical Jazz and Classical Ballet. She is currently a teacher, choreographer and artistic director of Rhythmosaic School and Dance Institute.
Leeds Playhouse opened nearly 50 years ago. It is a cultural hub, a place where people gather to tell and share stories and to engage in world class theatre. The Playhouse makes work which is pioneering and relevant, seeking out the best companies and artists to create inspirational theatre in the heart of Yorkshire. From large scale spectacles to intimate performances, the Playhousedevelops and makes work for the stage, found spaces, touring, schools and community venues. A dedicated collaborator, Leeds Playhouse works regularly with other organisations from across the UK and engages with some of the most distinctive and original voices in theatre today
Through its Artistic Development programme Furnace, it develops work with established practitioners and finds, nurtures and supports new voices. It cultivates artists by providing creative space for writers, directors, companies and individual theatre-makers to refine their practice at any stage of their career.
The Playhouse’s sector-leading Creative Engagement team works with over 10,000 people aged 0 – 95 every year through a range of weekly workshops and exciting creative projects using theatre to open up possibilities, reaching out to refugee communities, young people, students, older people and people with learning disabilities. At the Playhouse there is always a way to get involved.
Leeds Playhouse’s Spring/Summer 2020 season is taking place back in the redeveloped theatre following a £15.8 million transformation. The new building offers improved access to and around the theatre, a new city-facing entrance and a new studio theatre, the Bramall Rock Void.
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