Think Tank, Time line, and other resources


Think Tank

Time Line

Links to other resources including suggested reading



Think Tank

Date: 21 March 2013 

Following the first Study Day, the British Dance and the African Diaspora research project, in conjunction with ADAD, organised a think tank in London. This was attended by a small group of dance artists, administrators from Arts organisations and a representative from the Arts Council, and was facilitated by Dr. Jyoti Argade of the University of East London. Following this, ‘Funmi Adewole wrote the following paper.

Draft Position Paper

Writer: ‘Funmi Adewole

This short paper is the outcome of a think tank meeting that took place on March 21st, 2013. The meeting was part of the two-year research project, British Dance and the African Diaspora, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board. The investigators are Professor Ramsay Burt, De Montfort University, and Professor Christy Adair, York St John University. Jyoti Argade, a senior lecturer at University of East London, facilitated the meeting. The aim of the meeting was to bring together dance practitioners who are actively involved in developing this field of artistic practice to discuss ways of moving the discourse forward, beyond debates about definition.

The terms Black dance and African Peoples’ Dance (APD) have been the subject of many debates within the British dance sector since the 1980s.  The term Black dance is often rejected on the basis that it says nothing about the dance practices it refers to and places the dance artists involved in a political ghetto.  African Peoples Dance is also rejected in some quarters for being imprecise. Although the term clearly refers to a range of dance forms, it collectivizes them under the banner of ‘Africa’ making no indication that these dances may belong to widely different contexts and cultures, from Hip-hop to Sabar.  It is widely accepted that the focus on issues of definition and categorization of Black dance/APD has hampered academic research and writing on related dance practices. 

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to moving the discussion about Black dance/African Peoples dance forward by suggesting themes and topics for research and study. It seeks do this, not by trying to resolve the debates about definition but by proposing that investigative research and theorizing to take place even though issues of definition are not fully resolved.  The list below is drawn from a discussion between the invited dance practitioners. It represents themes and topics they are investigating in their various fields and considered as being important to the practice of dance of the Africa and the Diaspora in Britain.

Themes and Topics:

•    The context, history, evolution and practice of discreet dance forms from Africa and the Diaspora e.g. Dance Hall.
•    Artistic methodology i.e. methods of staging traditional African and Caribbean dance forms and the approaches to creating dance theatre with traditional and social dance forms.
•    The history and repertoire of specific dance companies such as Adzido Pan-African Dance Ensemble.
•    The location of Dance Archives in Britain and internationally and their holding of material on the dance of the African Diaspora
•    The archiving of Dance in this sector
•    The  biographies and legacy of dance practitioners and dance artists of note
•    The impact of discourse and criticism on choreographic practice in the Black dance/APD sector.
•    The merits and demerits of positing the mainstream as a marker success or excellence
•    Spirituality in the practice of Dance of the African Diaspora
•    African and Caribbean dance practices, Health and Well-being.
•    Intergenerational perspectives on Black dance/Africa Peoples Dance in Britain.
•    Changes in debates and interests between generations of dancers i.e. between those who performed in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
•    The differences in approach to the labeling of dance in cultural and social policy as opposed to artistic practice.
•    Various concepts of tradition and Modernity in the Black dance/APD sector.
•    Difference in perspective on the African and Caribbean dance in Britain and other countries outside of Africa.


Christy Adair (Investigator) – York St John University
‘Funmi Adewole – Independent artist
Jyoti  Argade (Facilitator) - University of East London
Deborah Baddoo – State of Emergency
Jeanette Bain-Burnett – Director of ADAD
Ramsay Burt (Investigator) – De Montfort University
Pam Johnson – Arts Council of England
Judith Palmer – Irie Dance Company, Chair ADAD
‘H’ Patten – Independent artist


Time Line of significant events 1946-2005 for British-based dancers who are Black.

Les Ballets Negres open at the Twentieth Century Theatre, Westbourne Grove, London, April 30th.

Katherine Dunham Dance Company has its first season in London.
The musical Calypso opens in London

Les Ballets Negres’ final season.

Pearl Primus presents her work at the Princes Theatre, London.

The Chubby Checker Show on Associated Television.

Namron joins Willesden Jazz Ballet

First London performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica performs in London as part of the Commonwealth Arts Festival and tours the UK.

Donald McKayle’s company presents Black New World at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.

Bill Harpe produces multicultural dance performance as part of the opening celebrations of the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool.
William Louther arrives from the United States to join London Contemporary Dance Theatre.

George Dzikunu arrives from Ghana
Peter Blackman forms Steel ‘n Skin who offer educational workshops.

Ipi Tombi, from South Africa, opens Her Majesty's Theatre, London, 19 November.
Lanzel founded in Wolverhampton.

Elroy Josephz takes up a post at I.M. Marsh teacher Training College, Liverpool.
Barrington Anderson founds Ekome in Bristol.

MAAS Movers, a contemporary dance company, is founded by the Minority Arts Advisory Service.
Kokuma founded in Birmingham.

Patricia Banton wins choreographers award for MAAS Movers.

Steel ‘n Skin’s Liverpool residency – subject of documentary film by Steve Shaw for Arts Council of Great Britain.

Maxine Brown is one of the founder members of Delado in Liverpool.
Phoenix Dance Company founded.

Mama Lou Parks performs in London

Warren Heyes and Terry Monaghan starts Jiving Lindyhoppers who give their first performance at the Notting Hill Carnival.
First London visit of Dance Theatre of Harlem

Black Dance Development Trust’s first summer school is held in Leicester.
Beverley Glean forms Irie! Dance Theatre.

Bode Lawal creates Sakoba Company
ACE dance and music established in Birmingham directed by Gail Parmel

Brenda Edwards and Noel Wallace created roles in Ulysees Dove’s Episodes commissioned by London Festival Ballet.
Carol Straker Dance Company is formed

Parallels in Black – two programmes of work by six postmodern African American choreographers – Blondell  Cummings, Ralph Lemon, Fred Holland, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Bebe Miller, and Jowale Willa Jo Zollar – presented at The Place Theatre, London.

Jackie Guy appointed Artistic Director of Kokuma Performing Arts.

Salut: Black Expression on the South Bank, Rex Nettleford gives a lecture

Peter Badejo forms Badejo Arts
Bullies Ballerinas formed
Five Guys Named Moe, first London production at Stratford East.

Sheron Wray founds Jazz Exchange
Closure of Black Dance Development Trust
Paul Liburd joins Rambert Dance Company

What is Black Dance in Britain? A Meeting for practitioners. Nottingham Playhouse, March.
RJC Company formed in Leeds

Kompany Malakhi founded

Jonzi D performs Aeroplane Man, as part of Lyrikal Fearta, at the Place Theatre, London
Patrick Acogny appointed Artistic Director of Kokuma Dance Company

Vivien Freakley directs Black Dance Choreographic Initiative

Robert Hylton forms Urban Classicism
Phoenix Dance Company’s Anniversary Tour.
Lion King opens in London

Hermin McIntosh writes the report Time for change: a framework for the development of African peoples dance forms for the Arts Council.

Brenda Edwards is Artistic Director of first Hip Festival
Ballet Black founded
David Bryan directs Nubian Steps at the South Bank

Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp is awarded OBE for services to dance

Bawren Tavaziva forms Tavaziva Dance Company

Robert Hylton presents Verse and Verses at Laban.
Adzido lose their funding.

This time line is a collaborative work in progress, created by Christy Adair and Ramsay Burt with additional help from Tara Lopez. If you have any suggestions for additional entries or amendments, please email Ramsay Burt.


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links to other resources.

Article by Christy Adair and Ramsay Burt about the British Dance and the African Diaspora research project published in the Summer 2013 edition of Animated.

Review by Sanjoy Roy of the exhibition British Dance: Black Routes at the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, in the Guardian, 20th September 2013.


Suggested reading

Dance in Britain
Adair, C., 2007. Dancing the Black Question: the Phoenix Dance Company Phenomenon (Alton: Dance Books)

Badejo, P., 1993. ‘What is black dance in Britain?’ Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 10–13 & continued p. 47

Barnes, T., 2000. ‘Individual aesthetic in the African Diaspora’ Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 15, pp. 24–28

Burt, R., 2004. ‘Katherine Dunham's floating island of negritude: The Katherine Dunham Dance Company in London and Paris in the late 1940s and early 1950s’ in A. Carter, ed., Rethinking Dance History (London and New York: Routledge)

Adewole, F., 2003, ‘Funmi Adewole interviews Namron’, Dance UK News, no. 51, Winter, p. 24

Adewole, F., 1997. ‘On the edge: Jonzi D and Bode Lawal’, Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD) Newsletter, no. 10, p. 3

Edwards, B., 2004. ‘Invisible identity? Invisible voice?’, Animated, Summer, pp. 14–16

Henshaw, D., 1991, ‘Adzido-Pan-African-Dance-Ensemble’, Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 8, no. 4, Spring, pp. 43–44

Johnson Jones, E.J., 1999. ‘The Choreographic notebook: A dynamic documentation of the choreographic process of Kokuma Dance Theatre, an African-Caribbean dance company’, in T.J. Buckland, ed., Dance in the Field: Theory, methods and issues in dance ethnography (Basingstoke: MacMillan)

Phillips, Y., 2001. ‘The aesthetics of hip-hop theatre: Jonzi D talks to Yvonne Phillips’, Dance UK News, pp. 4–5

Ramdhanie, B. 2008 ‘African Dance in England – Spirituality in Theatrical Performances’ University of Surrey,


African Dance/aesthetics

Carter Harrison, P., Walker, V. L. II and Edwards, G., 2002. Black Theatre: Ritual performance in the African diaspora (Philadelphia: Temple University Press)

Welsh Asante, K., (ed.), 1998: 2002, Africa Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, Trenton, NJ, and Asmara, Eritrea: Africa World Press Inc.
African American Dance

Emery, L. F., 1988. Black Dance From 1619 to Today (London: Dance Books)

DeFrantz, T., 2002. Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African American dance (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press)

Dixon Gottschild, B., 2003. The Black Dancing Body: A geography from coon to cool (Basingstoke: Palgrave)

Dixon Gottschild, B., 1996. Digging the Africanist presence in American performance: Danced and other contexts (London and Westport, Connecticut: Praeger)

Zimmer, E., 1987. 'Parallels in black', Dance Theatre Journal, vol. 5, no. 1, Spring, pp. 5–7

Caribbean Dance and Culture

Carty, H., 1988. Folk Dances of Jamaica: An Insight (London: Dance Books)

Daniel, Y., 2011. Caribbean and Atlantic Diaspora: Igniting Citizenship (Urbana, Chicagor, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press)

Nettleford, R. and M. Lyacoma, 2009. Dance Jamaica: The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamiaca 1962-2008, (Ian Randle Publishers)


Black British History and Culture

Alibhai-Brown, Y., 2000. Who Do We Think We Are: Imagining the New Britain (London: Penguin Books)

Brown, S., Hawson, I., Graves, T. and Barot, M., 2001. Eclipse Report: Developing strategies to combat racism in theatre (Nottingham: ACE, Theatrical Management Association and Nottingham Playhouse Initiative)

Dabydeen, D., J. Gilmore and C. Jones., eds. 2007. The Oxford Companion to Black British History (Oxford University Press)

Fryer, P., 1984. The History of Black People in Britain (London: Pluto Press)

Parekh, B., 2000. The Future of Multi-ethnic Britain (London: Profile Books)

Phillips, M., 1998, Windrush: A guide to the season (London: BBC)

Ramdin, R., 1999. Reimaging Britain: 500 years of black and Asian history (London: Pluto Press)


PostcolonialTheory/Cultural Studies

Ascroft, B., Griffiths, G. and Tiffin, H., 1998. Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies (London and New York: Routledge)

Benston, K., 2000. Performing Blackness (London and New York: Routledge)

Bhabha, H., 1997. Re-inventing Britain, Identity, Transnationalism and the Arts (London: British Council)

Dyer, R., 1997. White (London and New York: Routledge)

Fanon, F., 1952: 1973. Black Skin, White Masks (London: Paladin)

Gilroy, P., 2000. Between Camps: Race, identity and nationalism at the end of the colour line (London, Allen Lane: Penguin Press)

Gilroy, P., 1993. The Black Atlantic (London and New York: Verso)

Gilroy, P., 1987: 1995. There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack (London: Routledge)

Hall, S., 1999–2000. ‘Whose heritage? Un-settling “The Heritage”, Re-imagining the post-nation’, keynote speech to the conference Whose Heritage? The Impact of Cultural Diversity on Britain’s Living Heritage, Manchester, UK, November 1999, published in Third Text, vol. 49, Winter, pp 3–13

hooks, b., 1992, Black Looks: Race and representation (London: Turnaround)

Moore-Gilbert, B., 1997. Postcolonial Theory: Contexts, practices, politics (London and New York: Verso)

Young, R.J.C., 1995. Colonial desire: Hybridity in theory, culture and race (London and New York: Routledge)

Young, R.J.C., 1990. White Mythologies: Writing history and the West (London and New York: Routledge)



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