A Very British Rhythm — The Museum of Colour

Writer: Flynn Hallman

The Museum of Colour has launched its latest digital exhibition, entitled A Very British Rhythm. A project conceived to explore the contribution of dancers and choreographers from the Global Majority throughout 250 years of British dance history, the launch was held on International Dance Day, at Sadler’s Wells.

The exhibition is co-curated by Farooq Chaudhry OBE of Akram Khan Company and Samenua Sesher OBE of the Museum of Colour. Yesterday’s launch enabled those present to experience an exclusive virtual reality preview of what the exhibition will look like in person. The timeline of A Very British Rhythm links back to the mid-18th century to the legacy of the eminent composer Ignatius Sancho. Extending through to the present day, the exhibition shines a light on a truly eclectic range of figures heretofore under-represented and under-appreciated in the public eye.

Following the virtual exploration of the exhibition, there’s a discussion between its co-curators and Rob Jones (associate assistant director at Sadler’s Wells). This proves a particularly illuminating insight into the process that has gone into the project: from countless hours spent trawling the archives across the country to the creation of their film Ageless alongside the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.

An extract from this film, which may be found in full here:, was shown towards the end of the evening. It consists of six women dancers, all aged 50+. A beautiful homage to the accessibility and openness of the act of dance.

Farooq Chaudhry especially emphasised the exhibition’s focus on agelessness in the discussion section. He spoke eloquently of the ephemerality of the professional dance industry, and how this leads to many figures—especially of already under-represented communities—being lost to history. By honouring such figures, A Very British Rhythm stands for the emboldening of those whose legacies may have otherwise been lost. “This is a way to represent that continuum” Chaudhry stated at one point. This philosophy was tangible throughout the exhibition’s launch, but it was most notable in many of the portraits of the individuals themselves, which were given out as postcards at the beginning of the event.

Hopeful Sandati’s motif of long exposure shots demonstrates this point. They present the observer with the still aspect of the dancer’s face, while the movement of their limbs forms chronophotographic shapes and waves of colour around them. This simultaneously captures the evanescence of movement with the endurance of the identity which forms and characterises it. This is similarly picked up on by the artist Naki Narh, who composes a series of drawings for those who have passed away.

When asked why today was the time to make this sort of exhibition happen, Samuena Sesher responded, “There was a time when it was important to be recognised by others, now we want to recognise each other.” The digital exhibition, A Very British Rhythm, launches today on the Museum of Colour’s website.

The Digital Exhibition is available here

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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