Exploring Blackness, Queerness and the body as an archive: Black on Black A solo dance performance by Zinzi Minott - FAD Magazine

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Exploring Blackness, Queerness and the body as an archive: Black on Black A solo dance performance by Zinzi Minott

Zinzi Minott Photo: Kofi Paintsil.

Ground-breaking dancer, filmmaker and activist Zinzi Minott will perform Black on Black a solo dance performance that explores queerness, blackness and the body as an archive.

The work has been commissioned by CONTINUOUS as part of the CONTINUOUS Network programme for 2021/22 and will come to Gateshead as part of an ambitious tour of four UK cities, coming to Glasgow, Nottingham and Liverpool in Spring 2023.

Black on Black sees Zinzi Minott interrogate dance as a form of labour and the limits of the body through the exhausting processes of repetition and duration. The one-hour solo performance has been created from movement phrases donated to Zinzi by an extended network of Black dancers and artists.

Zinzi Minott explains

“My work explores the connection between dance, bodies and politics and Black on Black looks at the ancestral narrative handed down and evoked across generations of Black and Queer lives, expressed through physical performance. I’m excited to take my solo show on the road and tour Black on Black with CONTINUOUS Network.  If you could imagine a physical archive of dance, what nugget or phrase would you donate?”

In Black on Black, both dance and blackness are archived physically, passed from body to body to form a physical archive of Black and Queer lineage. What if movement, handed on and shared, is the embodied language of Black lives across generations and geolocations? Perhaps the body itself, and a shared physical vocabulary, is the most tangible archive for remembering Black life and histories. Dance’s ephemerality is a tactic of resistance.

As Minott performs her solo, her phrases are altered, eroded by exhaustion, mirroring the ever-changing and always vulnerable existence of the archive. The work makes plain the fallible nature of the body, of the archive, of performance and of blackness, all subject to forces of erasure.

For those who can’t catch the live performance, there will be a video installation of Black On Black shown through the remainder of June. Minott will perform her solo amidst a multi-screen audio-visual installation consisting of archival footage and other accompanying material from her personal image collection, with a newly commissioned score composed by Gaika.

Irene Aristizábal, head of curatorial and public practice at BALTIC said

“We are thrilled to present Zinzi Minott’s new performance for its premiere in partnership with CONTINUOUS and Siobhan Davies Dance. We are excited to offer our audiences this unique and important work that re-centres the conversation around the Black body, its agency and impact on the history of dance. Zinzi is a powerful voice combining dance and activism, and it’s a pleasure for BALTIC to have co-commissioned Black on Black and be the first venue to springboard the tour.”

Kat Bridge, from Siobhan Davies Studios added

“It feels very momentous to be presenting the premiere of Zinzi Minott’s incredible Black on Black to audiences at BALTIC in June. As one of our initial commissions Black on Black holds a special place in its timeliness and timelessness. Zinzi’s work perfectly exemplifies the ambition of the CONTINUOUS Network and we’re grateful to work with a network of generous and collaborative artists.”

Zinzi Minott: Black on Black  Thu 9th & Fri 10th Jun 18.30-19.30  Tickets £5, concessions £3. Booking essential BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art baltic.art/zinzi-minott-black-on-black  

About the artist

Zinzi Minott’s work focuses on the relationship between dance, bodies and politics. Zinzi explores how dance is perceived through the prisms of race, queer culture, gender and class. She is specifically interested in the place of Black women’s body within the form. As a dancer and filmmaker, she seeks to complicate the boundaries of dance seeing her live performance, filmic explorations and objects a different, but connected manifestations of dance and body-based outcomes and enquiry. 

Zinzi is interested in ideas of broken narrative, disturbed lineage, and how the use of the glitch can help us to consider notions of racism one experiences through the span of a Black life. She is specifically interested in telling Caribbean stories and highlighting the histories of those enslaved and the resulting migration of the Windrush Generation. zinziminott.com


An ambitious partnership between BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Siobhan Davies Dance (SDD), working alongside four galleries and two dance organisations around the UK. The partnership aims to foster dialogue and learning between artists and organisations, advancing the presentation of, and development of audiences for experimental independent contemporary dance within visual arts contexts.

The CONTINUOUS Network comprises: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), Siobhan Davies Dance (London), Bluecoat (Liverpool), Dance4 (Nottingham), Nottingham Contemporary (Nottingham), The Tetley (Leeds), Tramway (Glasgow), Turner Contemporary (Margate) and Yorkshire Dance (Leeds). This ambitious and unprecedented collaboration initiates a step-change in the commissioning, creation and presentation of experimental contemporary dance in galleries to grow audiences for dance across the UK. With a spirit of collaboration and learning, the network offers financial and practical support for presentations of dance works, initiates co-commissions of new dance works among network partners, brokers relationships between dance artists and curators, and facilitates audience development through participatory engagement activities. It also aims to improve the profile of experimental contemporary dance in the UK among national and international audiences.

This major collaboration has been awarded an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant and generous support from the John Ellerman Foundation. continuousdance.com  



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