British dance: Black routes

13 September 2013 to 23 March 2014

dancers with colourful swirls illustrating their movements

Image designed by longarm.co.uk | Photography: Eric Richmond

Please note that this exhibition has now closed

This exhibition explored the experiences of Black British dancers from 1946 to 2005 and highlighted their contributions to British dance. 

There is a variety of different dance forms practiced in Britain today, such as jazz, contemporary, ballet, hip-hop and African People’s Dance. Some of these have come to Britain along the many different routes taken by the families of today’s Black British citizens, many of whom came from the Caribbean in the late 1940s and 50s.

Some of these dance and music forms travelled along the transatlantic slave trading routes from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean on their way to Britain. Others have come direct from Africa with recent Commonwealth immigrants.

Although the actual dances are different from one another, they have qualities in common such as multiple rhythms, and high energy presented in a cool way. When Black Britons have suffered from racism, dancing has offered a powerful means for affirming positive ways of being Black.

Elroy Josephz

The exhibition included a display about the influential dancer Elroy Josephz.

Image © Elroy Josephz archive, courtesy of Sue Lancaster and Steve Mulrooney

This exhibition was developed by De Montfort University and York St John University. It has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

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