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Pioneers and Places Heritage Project

IRIE! dance theatre is Britain’s leading dance theatre company working in the field of African & Caribbean dance fusion. The IRIE! dance theatre archive documents the company’s pioneering educational, artistic and community-based programmes over its 37-year history. The Pioneers and Places project will make IRIE!’s archive more accessible to a wider audience of people not usually engaged in heritage through workshops, performances, talks and an exhibition.

As part of IRIE! dance theatre’s Heritage Lottery funded programme entitled ‘Pioneers and Places’ we have recreated a section of choreography from ‘Reggae Ina Ya Jeggae’ a dance work that featured in the company’s 1991 season entitled ‘let reggae touch your soul!’    


Rediscovering the history of IRIE! dance theatre through its choreographic works has been enlightening and has motivated us to examine, on new bodies, the more traditional elements of the dances. These elements have laid the foundation for the movement language of the company.


The work has been remounted on 6 dancers, and creatively reimagined and put together by rehearsal director Ofelia Balogun. These dancers hold strong African and European retentions because of the transatlantic slave trade and colonisation. The rhythms and movement language continue to present themselves in contemporary African and Caribbean culture in the diaspora.


The dances:


Kumina; Quadrille; (Poem by Louise Bennett-Coverley); Yanvalou; Burru and Nyabinghi


Wieke Vink, one of our Pioneers and Places Heritage Project volunteers, was inspired by watching rehearsals for the reconstruction of ‘Reggae Ina Yu Jeggae’ to write a spoken word piece, which she presented live following the performance. You can hear her beautiful words below, accompanied by photographs taken and edited by another of our project volunteers and IRIE! graduate, Laura Bodner

The Pioneers and Places Heritage Project is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, we are making IRIE!’s archive more accessible to a wider audience of people not usually engaged in heritage.

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