In the late 18th century, the owners of the Zong ship attempted to claim insurance on the lives of the 130 slaves that they threw overboard. Over 100 years later the Kala Pani prison was used by British colonial forces to incarcerate Indian freedom fighters who spoke out against the regime.
Inspired by these two narratives – Black Waters will present audiences with a wider 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 will also see Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sharon Watson co-choreograph for the first time with the Artistic Directors of Kolkata-based, Rhythmosaic, Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta in a fusion of western contemporary dance movement and classical kathak Indian dance.
Sharon Watson said, “Black Waters is not about recreating these two events through contemporary dance, but is an exploration of place, worth and belonging, which can often be conflicting for people of colour.”
Placing multiculturalism at its heart, the piece promises to be an emotionally evocative and culturally relevant production, which shows how from despair, people find value, inspiration and hope.
World premiere: 12 February 2020. Leeds Playhouse.
Review - Black Waters.
Choreography - Sharon Watson, Shambik Ghose, Mitul Sengupta
A Collaboration between Rhythmosaic and Phoenix Dance Theatre.
"Phoenix choreographer Sharon Watson worked alongside Shambik Ghose and Mitul Sengupta of Kolkata-based Rhythmosaic and two of their kathak dancers- achieved fruitful confluence"
Yorkshire Times ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Richard Trinder, Editor
"The choreography in Kala Pani showed the clear influence of Dr Mitul Sengupta, a director of Rhythmosaic Dance and a specialist in the classical kathak dance - one of the major forms of Indian classical dance. Often it was just the smallest gesture, but, like the Tabla in the soundtrack, it was so helpful in evoking India.
Congratulations to artistic director Sharon Watson and the choreographers, costume and lighting designers for another clear illumination of our rich, shared cultural history. And my particular praise goes to the dancers for their obvious physical and emotional commitment to these difficult roles.
Yorkshire Post, 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
"Incredibly moving, visceral and honest, the whole thing is, quite literally, breath-taking."
The Review Hub ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Taking inspiration from these events, Black Waters explores notions of place, worth and belonging through a fusion of contemporary and classical Indian Kathak dance. The work is an exciting, culturally relevant collaboration between Phoenix Dance Theatre and Indian dance company Rhythmosaic, allowing choreographers Sharon Watson, Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta to delve into their companies’ rich cultural history. The unique mix of Kathak and contemporary enables the work to quickly veer from beauty and fragility to wildness and agony. "
"Choreographed by trioka of dance makers, Sharon Watson, Shambik Ghose and Mitul Sengupta ...the overall aesthetic is Asian... and two guest dancers Prasanna Saikia and Prasun Banerjee, join Phoenix. Black Waters works on its own terms extremely well."
British Theatre Guide
"From the fluttering finger movements inspired by Indian Kathak dance, my reaction at the end of the first half was "wow" and the enthusiastic applause both then and at the end confirmed that I was not alone: intensely moving choreography, evocative music, superb dancing, and effective lighting and costumes- what more can you ask for? " British Theater Guide.
Blog - BWJevons
"This is a thrilling and intense piece of dance theatre which is at once accessible as well as secretive and obscure. Watson works with Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta to create a compelling and immersive piece. Alongside this trio of choreographers is a creative team par excellence. " http://bit.ly/BWJevons