EDITORIAL

Dear Black Europe Resources Reader,

In 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre. She was featured in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world in the same year. What is less known is that “Les Ballets Nègres”, the first black dance company in Europe was launched by dancer, choreographer Berto Pasuka in London in 1946. As a V&A article on the “History of Black Dance” says, it is only much later that black dance companies and black dancers developed a stronger presence.

According to the Voice newspaper, black dance pioneer Julie Felix, author of the book “Brickbats & Tutus”, had to relocate to the USA because of racial discrimination in the United Kingdom. For instance, she was told that “her black skin would ‘mess up the line’ of white dancers for a Swan Lake production in London.”

Overall, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation in the creative industries still remains low. It is mainly in the new millennium that black dancers’ presence increased. For instance, in 2013 Solomon Golding became the first black British male dancer of the Royal Ballet.

Exceptional international black dancers obviously also made history by joining the British dance establishment. There is the Cuban Carlos Acosta, who retired from the Royal Ballet in 2016 and whose biopic “Yuli”, inspired by his auto-biography, is due to be released in early 2019 in the United Kingdom. There is also Isaac Herandez, the current lead principal of the English National Ballet and lawyer-to-be, who “plans to make dance a human right in his home country of Mexico and elevate it as a profession within Mexican society.”

Cassa Pancho, founder of Ballet Black, however pointed out that in the early 2000s “it was difficult to find a single black woman working in a UK ballet company.” In an interview for the London Metro newspaper, she said that black people “were regularly discouraged from pursuing a career in classical ballet and were told if they wanted to have a successful career, to go into commercial or modern dance.”

Other commentators believe that the issue of dance and ethnicity is more complex, and that underrepresentation is often more down to training access and cost than any racial bias. The experience of some US black female ballet dancers, like Precious Adams or Michaela DePrince whether in Europe or elsewhere however suggests that talent and funding do not prevent racial discrimination.

Also, why did not relevant British arts bodies do more and earlier to increase the number of black dancers and improve the diversity of the nation’s dance heritage? Why do so few organisations provide subsidised community dance classes? Are there also enough culturally diverse and inclusive dance practices? What kind of dance practices do we engage with and pay tickets for? Is it only mainstream dance or Western ballet? Anyway, as experts say, should we all dance for better health and well-being? It is this kind of questions that the last issue of the Black & Asian Heritage Mix newsletter for this year invites you to explore more closely.

 

Seasons’ Greetings & Please Don’t Forget To Dance!

 

Thushari Perera

 

 

REVIEW 

INVISIBLE VISIBILITY: DIVERSE VOICES WITHIN INCLUSIVE DANCE

Invisible Visibility

Publication by Serendipity, 2018

By Pawlet Brookes, Louise Dickson, Anthony Evans, Louise Katerega

Read more here

 

 

FILMS

 

PHYSICALLY BEING ME

Films

Physically Being Me explores the positive journeys and thoughts of six disabled people who dance from their point of view. This film was created with the Community Film Unit and was funded through the award winning Speak Up Film Fund.

Find out more here

 

Other related films and links:

Inspired by Chicago

Inspired by Black Swan

Inspired by Singin’ in the Rain 

11 Million Reasons To Dance

 

 

ARTS & CULTURE

 

 

BROWN POINT SHOES ARRIVE, 200 YEARS AFTER WHITE ONES

(By socialpeoplemagazine.com, 6 November 2018)

Read the article here

 

APOLLO AWARDS 2018 ARTIST OF THE YEAR WINNER

JOHN AKOMFRAH

John Akomfrah

 By Fatema Ahmed

(Apollo Magazine, 26 November 2018)

Read about John Akomfrah’s work here

 

MUSEUMS/HERITAGE SITES

 

MUSEUMS AUDIENCE REPORT: WHAT AUDIENCE FINDER SAYS ABOUT AUDIENCES FOR MUSEUMS

Audience Agency Museum Age Ethnicity Nov 2018

By the Audience Agency

Publication date: November 2018

Read the report here

 

 

PHILATELY

 

THESE STAMPS ARE FROM COUNTRIES THAT NO LONGER EXIST

Nowhereland

By Katharine Schwab

(Fastcompany, 10 November 2017)

Read the article here

 

 

BOOKS

 

HOPE IN A BALLET SHOE

(US Book Title: “Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina”)

Hope in a Ballet Shoe

By Michaela DePrince, Elaine DePrince

(Published by Faber & Faber, 4 June 2015)

“Hope in a Ballet Shoe tells the story of Michaela DePrince. Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, she witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. Her father is killed by rebels and her mother dies of famine. Sent to an orphanage, Michaela is mistreated and she sees the brutal murder of her favourite teacher. Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela begins to take dance lessons. But life in the States isn’t without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it’s haunting her. The world of ballet is a racist one, and Michaela has to fight for a place amongst the ballet elite, hearing the words ‘America’s not ready for a black girl ballerina.’ And yet … Today, Michaela DePrince is an international ballet star, dancing for The Dutch National Ballet at the age of nineteen. This is a heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future.”

Find out more here

Related Short Vimeo Film “Ballerina Makes it on the World’s Stage” here

Related CNN article “Madonna to direct biopic of ballerina from ‘Lemonade’ video” here

 

 

BALLERINA DREAMS

Ballerina Dreams

By Michaela DePrince

(Published by Faber & Faber, 6 April 2017)

“One windy day, a magazine blew down the road. I reached out and caught it. A pretty picture of a woman was on the front cover of the magazine. She wore a short pink dress that stuck out around her in a circle. She looked very happy. At the age of three, Michaela DePrince found a photo of a ballerina that changed her life. She was living in an orphanage in Sierra Leone at the time, but was soon adopted by a family and brought to America. Michaela never forgot the photo of the dancer she once saw, and decided to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true. She has been dancing ever since, and after a spell as a principal dancer in New York, now dances for the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam. Beautifully and gently illustrated by Ella Okstad, Ballerina Dreams is the younger-reader edition of Michaela DePrince’s highly moving memoir, Hope in a Ballet Shoe.”

Find out more here

 

 

AN AFRICAN IN IMPERIAL LONDON

THE INDOMITABLE LIFE OF A.B.C. MERRIMAN-LABOR

An African in Imperial London

By Danell Jones

(Published by Hurst, 1st September 2018)

“Until now, the story of this forgotten pioneer of African literature has been a mystery. For the first time, An African in Imperial London describes the tragic spiral that pulled this remarkable man down the social ladder from barrister to munitions worker, from witty observer of the social order to patient in a state-run hospital for the poor. The book provides an intimate view of London through African eyes as Merriman-Labor navigates streets bustling with millionaires made rich by South African gold mines, suffragettes demanding the vote, and destitute women selling matches to feed their starving children. An African in Imperial London reveals London as a world of diversity, ingenuity, and struggle–a great read for anyone interested in how life really was in early 20th-century Britain.”

Find out more here

 

 

INDIAN SUFFRAGETTES: FEMALE IDENTITIES AND TRANSNATIONAL NETWORKS

Indian Suffragettes

By Sumita Mukherjee

(Published by Oxford University Press, 24 May 2018)

“The book looks at the activities of Indian campaigners for the female vote in Asia, Europe, USA, Britain and other parts of the British Empire, and how they had an impact on campaigns in the Indian subcontinent. Dr Mukherjee, a historian of the British Empire and the Indian Subcontinent, said: “The suffrage movement was a truly global enterprise, not solely confined to Britain or America, involving and affecting women from a range of diverse backgrounds. “In this book, I discuss the experiences of the Indian suffrage campaigners who travelled around the world to lobby the British parliament, attend international women’s conferences, and conduct speaking tours to gather support for Indian women.””

Find out more here

 

 

BLACK 1919: RIOTS, RACISM AND RESISTANCE IN IMPERIAL BRITAIN

Black 1919

By Jacqueline Jenkinson

(Published by Liverpool University Press, Reprint 31 March 2019)

“The riots that broke out in various British port cities in 1919 were a dramatic manifestation of a wave of global unrest that affected Britain, parts of its empire, continental Europe and North America during and in the wake of the First World War. During the riots, crowds of white working-class people targeted black workers, their families and black-owned businesses and property. One of the chief sources of violent confrontation in the run-down port areas was the `colour’ bar implemented by the sailors’ trades unions campaigning to keep black, Arab and Asian sailors off British ships in a time of increasing job competition. Black 1919 sets out the economic and social causes of the riots and their impact on Britain’s relationship with its empire and its colonial subjects. The riots are also considered within the wider context of rioting elsewhere on the fringes of the Atlantic world as black people came in increased numbers into urban and metropolitan settings where they competed with working-class white people for jobs and housing during and after the First World War. The book details the events of the port riots in Britain, with chapters devoted to assessing the motivations and make-up of the rioting crowds, examining police procedures during the riots, considering the court cases that followed, and looking at the longer-term consequences for the black British workers and their families. Black 1919 is a stark and timely reminder of the violent racist conflict that emerged after the First World War and the shockwaves that reverberated around the Empire.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Find out more on Reviews in History here

 

 

ARCHITECTURE

 

ZAHA HADID: SKETCHING THE FUTURE

Zaha Hadid

(Henitalks.com)

“Zaha Hadid revolutionised the language of architecture and transformed the way we think about design. An artist who sought to question everything taken for granted, she created some of the most spectacular buildings of the 20th and 21st centuries. Hans Ulrich Obrist, a curator, collaborator and longstanding friend, describes how Hadid’s method began in her sketchbooks with ‘superfluid’ drawings, which reflected her belief in the connection between art and architecture. Obrist traces Hadid’s childhood in Baghdad, the formative influences of her family and her time studying at the Architectural Association in London, a highly experimental school where she was exposed to the ideas of the early twentieth century Russian avant-garde. Obrist goes on to explain how the development of digital technology allowed Hadid to realise her futurist ideas and create new possibilities in architecture, allowing her to seemingly ‘defy gravity’.”

Listen and Watch here

 

 

AMERICAS

 

FAMILY HISTORY

 

I WAS RAISED AS A NATIVE AMERICAN. THEN A DNA TEST ROCKED MY IDENTITY

DNA

Finding out my father lied about his heritage has forced me to radically question who I am.

By Sequoya Yiaueki

(The Guardian, 15 November 2018)

Read the article here

 

 

HEALTH & WELL-BEING

 

CLICK & DANCE FOR WELL-BEING

“For sensori-motor coordination, strength, mood, agility, hormone and immune-system control. For patients, for carers and for closet dancers! Easy to follow and gently progressive. Plus a channel for limited mobility dancers. Dance for mental health, dance for physical health. (Good mood is a common side effect).”

Find out more on clickanddance.com here.

Find 3-minute dance videos here.

 

TELEVISION

DARCEY BUSSELL: DANCING TO HAPPINESS

(BBC Two, 1st December 2018)

“Dame Darcey Bussell explores the value of dancing in improving mental health and meets a range of people using dance as therapy.”

Find out more here

 

EVENTS

 

8 December 2018

GANDINI JUGGLING: SIGMA

Gandini Juggling Sigma

(LANCASTER, NUFFIELDS ARTS CENTRE)

“Gandini Juggling’s beautiful new show explores the creative interface between juggling, geometry and classical Indian dance. Sigma showcases exuberant rhythms, patterns and colours, at the heart of which is a unique interpretation of the South Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam. With a seductive percussion score and sumptuous backdrop of multimedia projections, Sigma is a finely crafted work. This cross-artform collaboration, engages in a dialogue with the viewer, transcending cultural barriers and stimulating imaginations. Winner of an Asian Arts Award and Total Theatre Award at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sigma is performed by a quartet of female artists including the award-winning choreographer Seeta Patel.”

Find out more here

Other Tour dates here

 

8 – 10 January 2019

SHEN YUN

(NEW VICTORIA THEATRE, WOKING)

“The culture of ancient China was divinely inspired. Shen Yun’s works reflect this rich spiritual heritage… Shen Yun invites you to travel back to the magical world of ancient China. Experience a lost culture through the incredible art of classical Chinese dance, and see legends come to life. Shen Yun makes this possible by pushing the boundaries of the performing arts, with a unique blend of stunning costuming, high-tech backdrops, and an orchestra like no other. Be prepared for a theatrical experience that will take your breath away!”

Find out more here (including other performance dates/venues)

 

11 – 17 January 2019

ROUNDHOUSE AND SADLER’S WELLS PRESENT

AKRAM KHAN COMPANY

“UNTIL THE LIONS”

DIRECTED AND CHOREOGRAPHED BY AKRAM KHAN

Akram Khan Dance Company

(ROUNDHOUSE, LONDON)

 “Following the sell-out success of “Until the Lions”, which had its world premiere here in 2016, Akram Khan returns with his universally acclaimed dance show. But this time it’s different – this time will be his last ever performance in this epic and thrilling work. Using a powerful blend of kathak movement and contemporary dance, Khan tells the story of Amba, one of the great, unsung heroines of the Mahabharata. Adapted from Karthika Naïr’s book “Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata”, the piece is a poetic retelling of the Sanskrit epic exploring notions of gender and time in a battle for justice and liberty…”

Find out more here

Press Reviews here

 

 

11 January 2019

1919: BRITAIN’S FORGOTTEN RACE RIOTS

David Olusoga

(BRITISH LIBRARY, LONDON)

“Historian David Olusoga delves into the series of race related riots of 1919. The aftermath of the First World War made 1919 a turbulent year, as simmering tensions erupted into race riots across the world. Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga explores the little-known story of the racial unrest which affected Britain, as youths and workers clashed on the streets of port cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Newport, South Shields, London and Cardiff. David Olusoga has won awards as both a presenter and documentary maker. His most recent series include The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers Of Empire (BBC Two), Black and British: A Forgotten History (BBC Two) and the BAFTA winning Britain’s Forgotten Slave Owners (BBC Two). He is also the author of The World’s War, the co-author of The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism, and author of Black and British: A Forgotten History, which was awarded both the Longman-History Today Trustees Award and the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize.”

Find out more here

 

 

12 January 2019 – 10 March 2019

EXHIBITION – MATTHEW KRISHANU: THE SUN NEVER SETS

Matthew Krishanu The Sun Never Sets

(MAC, BIRMINGHAM)

“London-based painter Matthew Krishanu takes inspiration from his childhood spent in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka to produce his dream-like, reflective paintings. Matthew’s British father and Indian mother completed theological training in Birmingham, then relocated their family to Dhaka in the early 1980s, working for the Church of Bangladesh. His work explores his eleven years living in Bangladesh, while capturing his distinctive bond with his brother. His paintings explore the childhood gaze of the boys, depicting experiences of an atmospheric yet complex world of expatriates, missionaries and expansive landscapes. Matthew Krishanu says: “I want the viewer to sense the complications: that the scenes depicted are not always ones of innocence, that there are historical and cultural currents at play, and that the childhood world is easily punctured by adult constructions and beliefs.”

Join us to celebrate the launch of ‘The Sun Never Sets’ at the opening event on Saturday 19 January from 2pm-4pm, where you can see the work and meet artist Matthew Krishanu. There will also be an Artist Talk and Tour on Thursday 21 February from 6pm-7.30pm in the gallery – a chance to join artist Matthew and MAC Visual Arts Producer Jess Litherland for a private evening tour of ‘The Sun Never Sets’.

An associated exhibition of his work ‘A Murder of Crows’ is showing throughout the Ikon Gallery building during the run of ‘The Sun Never Sets’.

A catalogue is available to buy featuring texts by Jenni Lomax and Ruxmini Choudhury (assistant curator at Dhaka Art Summit).

Find out more here

 

 

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