Phoenix Dance Theatre find hope in bleak Black Waters in Leeds Playhouse premiere

Phoenix Dance Theatre in Black Waters

PHOENIX Dance Theatre are exploring the long-lasting effects of British colonial forces in the world premiere of Black Waters at Leeds Playhouse this week.

Drawing inspiration from history, this emotionally evocative new production by the Leeds company combines two events.

Black Waters: Phoenix Dance Theatre’s exploration of place, worth and belonging

In the first, in the late-18th century, 130 slaves were thrown overboard from the Zong as the ship owners attempted to profit from their life insurance.

More than 100 years later, Indian freedom fighters were incarcerated in the Kala Pani prison for speaking out against the regime. 

Co-choreographer Sharon Watson during rehearsals for Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Black Waters

Black Waters reflects on these two colonial landmarks, showing how people can find value, inspiration and hope even in the bleakest of times.

The co-choreographers, Phoenix artistic director Sharon Watson and Shambik Ghose and Dr Mitul Sengupta, artistic directors of Rhythmosaic, from Kolkata, combine contemporary dance with Kathak dance: one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance, traditionally attributed to ancient travelling storytellers.

Black Waters co-choreographer Shambik Ghose

Sharon says: “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.”

Black Waters can be seen in the Quarry Theatre at 7.30pm tonight, tomorrow and Saturday. Box office: 0113 213 7700 or at