Phoenix to bring Black Waters to Newcastle

Published: 21 November 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Black Waters

Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre will bring its latest production, Black Waters, to Northern Stage in February.

Black Waters, which is co-choreographed by the company’s artistic director Sharon Watson and the artistic directors of Rhythmosaic, Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta, is inspired by the Zong Massacre, the mass killing of more than 130 African slaves by the crew of the British slave ship Zong in November 1781, and freedom fighters who were incarcerated in Indian cellular jail Kala Pani in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India, where the British Raj held and tortured activists, dissidents and mutineers.

The piece will draw on the overlapping themes of imprisonment, forced transportation, despair and hope.

The work will fuse Watson’s western contemporary technique, Ghose’s western choreographic jazz style with Dr Sengupta’s classical kathak movement vocabulary and will be set to an original composition by Indian composer Dishari Chakraborty.

“I am looking forward to challenging myself by co-choreographing for the first time,” Watson said. “Black Waters will present audiences with an exploration of how British colonial forces commodified people for gain, and as a consequence, saw a blending of cultures and the birth of fragmented identities for whom home has always remained a contested space.”

Black Waters comes to Northern Stage (25–26 February 2020) after its première at Leeds Playhouse from 12 to 15 February. It then tours to Theatre by the Lake, Keswick; The Peacock, London; Malvern Theatres; Cast, Doncaster; The Civic, Barnsley and The Lowry, Salford.