I Move: Pawlet Brookes

16 Feb 2021

This month, as part of ‘I Move’, championing and spotlighting dance of the African Diaspora (DAD) practitioners in the UK, we spoke to Pawlet Brookes, CEO and Artistic Director of Serendipity about how DAD motivates her work, adapting to digital and upcoming projects.

Tell us about yourself, where you are based and your practice?

My name is Pawlet Brookes, I am the CEO and Artistic Director of Serendipity, a diversity-led arts organisation. Our flagship festival is Let’s Dance International Frontiers and we coordinate Black History Month Leicester and projects year-round.

How does your work best embody dance of the African Diaspora and why it is important in the current British cultural landscape?

Serendipity’s work is about amplifying underrepresented voices, with a particular reference to the African and African Caribbean Diaspora.  This means showcasing innovative dance performances, masterclasses, producing documentation and legacy through our series of publications and an establishing archive for Black-led arts and Black presence and history in the Midlands and reflecting the UK today.

What upcoming plans do you have for 2021?

Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2021 will be launching on 29 April, this year’s theme is Creating Socially Engaged Art: Can Dance Change the World?  This year’s programme is multifaceted indoors, outdoors, in person and online featuring Joseph Toonga, BOP Jazz Dance Theatre, Jonzi D Maya Taylor, Wanjiru Kamuya and Yinka Esi Graves.

Tell us something you feel the dance sector doesn’t know about Dance of the African Diaspora?

Dance of the African Diaspora is constantly evolving and changing. It draws on the embodied history and heritage of the people from the African and African Caribbean Diaspora and has been significant in shaping much of what we consider to be contemporary dance today, although this history is often hidden.

How have you digitally adapted over the last 12 months?

Following the announcement of lockdown in March 2020, within six weeks we curated and produced Alternative LDIF20 featuring dance films from Alice Sheppard, Yinka Esi Graves, Tabanka Dance Ensemble and a new collective collaboration 30 Seconds of Freedom. In October, we produced LDIF21 Preview, a teaser of work to come alongside new dance films from Alleyne Dance, Freddy Houndekindo, Samwel Japhet and many others. We also created two new podcasts A Dialogue with Masters and Black Manifesto! With nora chipaumire.

We also looked at ways to make things physical so more people could access our work by producing a new magazine, BlackInk, a new magazine.  We also published three new books; Reflections: Cultural Voices and Black British Irrepressible Resilience, LDIF10 Years in the Making and My Voice, My Practice: Black Dance.

What advice would you offer to young and or new aspiring dancers interested in Dance of the African Diaspora?

The advice I would give to young and new aspiring dancers is to really focus on your learning and training.  Attend workshops and classes and do your reading and research, build your vocabulary of techniques and acknowledge the people who have paved the way.