Phoenix Dance Theatre presents a major new dance production for 2018 Windrush: Movement of the People, as part of their 2018 Mixed Programme.

A lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain, Windrush spans the spirit, history, and heritage of British Caribbean culture, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush that brought the first Caribbean migrants to the UK. Choreographed by Artistic Director Sharon Watson, the work features an original music score by award-winning jazz musician and composer Gary Crosby, performed live at the West Yorkshire Playhouse by Leeds Music Ensemble.

The production begins in Jamaica showing the response to the newspaper adverts for the SS Empire Windrush; busy and exciting scenes are juxtaposed with personal stories – family farewells and people left behind. The 492 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.

From 1948 to the present day; from Calypso to RnB via Blues, Ska, and Reggae, composer Gary Crosby OBE with Christella Listras from Caution Collective support the story with an uplifting soundtrack to the lives of the Caribbean British people and wider Black British Communities.

Audiences will also be treated to Alleta Collins’ acclaimed Maybe Yes Maybe, Maybe No Maybe, where five dancers blend movement and voices into the beats and accents of a pulsing soundtrack.

Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance, and choreographer of Windrush, Sharon Watson said: “I wanted to capture both the excitement and the upset of this significant event. Windrush will highlight 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.

“Dancers will 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 culture’.

“When I was undertaking the research for this project, I was delighted to discover that Calypso musicians Lord Kitchener, Lord Beginner, Lord Woodbine and singer Mona Baptiste were among the ship’s passengers; these major musicians were part of the story! What greater gift for a choreographer than to be practically handed a part of the soundtrack?”

Windrush will be presented alongside Shadows by Christopher Bruce and Calyx by Sandrine Monin.


The World Premiere of Windrush: Movement of the People is at West Yorkshire Playhouse; 7 – 10 February 2018 at 7.30pm

It then tours to Theatre By The Lake, Keswick; Cast, Doncaster, Curve, Leicester; Schrittmacher, Aachen, Germany; The Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells London; Northern Stage, Newcastle.

Tickets are on sale now. Find out more and book here.