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Elroy Josephz

Elroy Josephz dancing Elroy Josephz dancing with a woman, both wearing flamenco style clothing

Images © Elroy Josephz archive, courtesy of Sue Lancaster and Steve Mulrooney

Born into a theatrical family, Elroy Josephz was a dancer, teacher, actor and producer, who came to Britain from Jamaica in the 1950s.

Beginning his career in London with Les Ballets Negres in 1952, Elroy went on to perform in a variety of musical and television productions including West Side Story and Doctor Who in 1970. He toured his own professional dance company throughout Europe from 1967 to 1970, developing his own style of dance which fused African Caribbean forms with those of Europe and Asia. Central to his work was his understanding of the historical importance of transatlantic slavery and its legacies. Elroy believed this history gave his work a power and emotion essential to his style of dance.

Josephz taught dance to students in both Liverpool and London becoming one of the UK’s first Black dance lecturers in 1979 at what is now Liverpool John Moores University.

Today his story is largely absent from the history of British dance, despite playing a central role in changing how modern dance is both taught and performed. However, since his death in 1997 his legacy has lived on through the work of former colleagues and students throughout Liverpool and the UK.

Exclusive online film

This tribute film, which was not part of the exhibition, was commissioned and produced by Merseyside Dance Initiative, with support from Susan Lancaster and Stephen Mulrooney. The film was created by Daniel Williams, Moonman Media.

Read a transcript of the film.

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