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Windrush: Movement of the People review at Peacock Theatre, London – ‘timely new work’

Scene from Windrush: Movement of the People at Peacock Theatre, London
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Windrush: Movement of the People is the timely new full length work by Phoenix Dance Theatre. Choreographed by artistic director Sharon Watson, and inspired by her personal experience, the piece captures the arrival of the Windrush generation in the UK and their experiences as they build their lives in a new country.

Following scenes of excitement at the Caribbean docks, the tone shifts to something more mournful and muted. The phrase: “You called and we came” is repeated; words still echoing today.

Dancers in white masks – faceless, emotionless – neatly symbolise the prejudice that many migrants faced. There’s a scene where the garments on a washing line are used spell out cutting phrases to the accompaniment of Enoch Powell’s infamous speech.

Gradually, masks are shed, relationships form, and lives are built. Watson has created a work that’s both serious and light-hearted in its approach. Contemporary movement fuses with grounded, swaying motions distinctly Caribbean and the multi-cultural cast highlight the piece’s themes of integration and acceptance. It ends on a jubilant, celebratory note which, in the light of the events of recent weeks, feels incredibly poignant.

Windrush is accompanied by two shorter pieces: Sandrine Monin’s Calyx and Shadows by Christopher Bruce. Calyx is excellently danced but, despite moments of inventive choreography – notably a sequence built upon a complex sequence of lifts – the work does not engage.

Bruce’s Shadows is a great example of what might be achieved in 10 minutes. Intimate and fluidly choreographed, it offers a fleeting insight into the private emotions of four family members. Tenderly danced it’s a near perfect capsule piece.

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Phoenix Dance Theatre's new triple bill is led by an ambitious and resonant new piece