Windrush: Movement of the People, this BBC television broadcast is held digitally in the library at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance on the NSCD Media Archive. It is held under an ERA licence and is accessible to students and staff at the school.

Clip of Windrush: Movement of the People, Sharon Watson MBE DL (ch), Phoenix Dance Theatre (per)

Windrush: Movement of the People is a contemporary dance work produced originally for the stage in 2018 to mark the 70th anniversary of the landing of the SS Empire Windrush. The work was then restaged and filmed for broadcast and online distribution as a Leeds 2023 and Space commission. The production was captured for film in December 2018 by director Ross McGibbon and broadcast on BBC Four in February 2019 and again in June 2020. The NSCD Library holds the 2020 broadcast.

Phoenix Dance Theatre performed the contemporary dance work, choreographed by Sharon Watson MBE DL. The work explores the story of those who arrived in the UK from Jamaica on the SS Empire Windrush (also known as the HMT Empire Windrush). It was the first contemporary dance piece to explore the arrival of the ship at Tilbury Dock in London in June 1948, bringing alive the stories of the people on board – one of the first large groups of post-war West Indian immigrants to the United Kingdom who became known as the Windrush generation.

Commended by audiences and critics since its premiere at Leeds Playhouse in 2018, Phoenix Dance Theatre’s production has toured UK venues to sell out auditoriums and festivals and was also performed in Germany.

Two dancers
Sharon Watson MBE DL (ch), Brian Slater (ph)

The work is a lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain and features an uplifting soundtrack from calypso, jazz, gospel and reggae with original music by Christella Litras and featuring set and costume design by Eleanor Bull. It was performed for the film commission by Phoenix Dance Theatre members Natalie Alleston, Aaron Chaplin, Asmara Cammock, Jasmine Gordon, Carmen Vazquez Marfil, Carlos J. Martinez, Michael Marquez, Sandrine Monin, Prentice Whitlow and Vanessa Vince-Pang.

Sharon Watson said: “Windrush: Movement of the People 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.

Link to NSCD Library Catalogue
Link to Phoenix Dance Theatre ‘Windrush: Movement of the People’ production page
Link to the space ‘Windrush: Movement of the People’ blog post
Link to the British Council ‘Windrush: Movement of the People’ livestream event page, 2019