Taking inspiration from the Diversity in Entrepreneurship conference at Falmouth University this month, I have this month spent time considering the term entrepreneurship, and the mindset of “seeking out potential opportunities during uncertain times”. This is certainly true of Serendipity’s story which I founded in the midst of the recession nine years ago. However, I have been reminded throughout this month that the term entrepreneur does not just encapsulate business but anyone with tenacity and the spirit of making things happen when the odds are often stacked against them.

We began February with LDIF+ and three days of intensive workshops, focusing on Black British choreographers; Kenrick Sandy, Sharon Watson and Vicki Igbokwe. The participants were given a real insight into the processes of three different practitioners and their techniques, from hip hop to contemporary to waacking and vogue. Those privileged enough to take Sharon’s class used stimuli from a forthcoming choreography. Although a significant amount of the work we do has an international focus, it is essential to recognise and acknowledge the work the Black British choreographers have played in changing the face of dance in the UK. There is an interplay between the need for a presence, empowerment and a diversity of both techniques and voices that has actively shaped the founding of Boy Blue Entertainment, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Uchenna Dance, and the tenacity of their leaders that is changing the dance ecology nationally and internationally. Moving forward we will be featuring techniques from Jeanguy Saintus, Thomas Presto and Alesandra Seutin for LDIF+ in May. To find out more click here. 

The Serendipity team were privileged enough to attend the opening night of Phoenix Dance Theatre and Opera North’s Rite of Spring at Leeds Grand Theatre. Stravinsky’s score was reimagined by Jeanguy Saintus to encapsulate his contemporary Haitian aesthetic. It was fantastic to see Jeanguy’s choreography embraced by the dancers from Phoenix, and the interpretation of a classical yet provocative composition. More information here. In a similar spirit, we are delighted that Jeanguy’s company Ayikodans will be launching Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2019 at Leicester Cathedral, this time taking on a non-traditional venue for dance, yet an exciting one. The company will be presenting Reflections, looking back at over thirty years of work and an example of the resolve that Jeanguy and his company have had amongst trials and triumphs. The launch is an opportunity not to be missed, and there are only a limited number of places. The festival will also feature an exhibition Manifest: Black Dance 1940 – 2019 which will look back on the contribution of Black dance in the UK. More information is available here.

I also had the privilege of visiting Phoebe Boswell’s exhibition The Space Between at Autograph. The themes of vulnerability and fragility as a process to cathartic healing was particularly poignant. Whilst in London, we also had the opportunity to do some research for Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future, with a visit to the Black Cultural Archives, followed by a trip to the National Portrait Gallery to attend a provocative performance-lecture by David McAlmont about Les Ballet Negres founder Berto Pasuka. The aim was to challenge conventional narratives around race and sexuality that amplify the existence of voices too often hidden and unheard in cultural spaces.

Cultural Exchanges offered the opportunity for Serendipity to host a talk with former boxer Michael Watson, detailing his own journey of finding inner strength and purpose amongst setbacks. Reflecting on the fight against Chris Eubank that changed his life, Michael said “Forgiveness is a powerful weapon. I had contentment, to put the whole thing behind me and look toward the future with joy.” A poignant contemplation to end February. Michael’s wisdom provided the perfect launch for Archiving the Past, Reflecting the Future, with a preview of the corresponding Larry Gains, Heavyweight Champion exhibition which will go on display at the Old Library Gallery 11-16 March. Larry’s own story of becoming a champion boxer in an era of racial discrimination, a Canadian boxer making a home for himself in Leicester in the 1930s, and his tenacity of spirit is still relevant now as it was nearly ninety years ago.