Part of HOME’s Spring Summer 2022 Theatre Season, JUMBIE is an interdisciplinary performance created by a provocative and playful Black Queer ensemble. A contemporary exploration of a lost dance ritual from the Caribbean island of Montserrat.
A contemporary exploration of a lost dance ritual from the Caribbean island of Montserrat.
With origins in West African culture, a ‘jumbie’ is a Caribbean term for a ghost, or a spirit of the dead, and the Jumbie dance was a celebration that often functioned as a healing ritual. Brought to the Caribbean during slavery and having survived the Middle Passage, the Jumbie dance stands as a mark of African cultural resistance. Offering feasts, music and movement, the lively ceremony acted as an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between the living and their deceased ancestors.
In this new work, Jamal Gerald attempts to summon the traditional dance form but from a contemporary Queer perspective.
Calling on the spirits of the dead to cure illness, solve personal problems, and redress social injustice, the Jumbie Dance offered a night of feasting and revelry; raucous and wild, a celebration where anything could happen. Unfortunately, the practice was lost over time, due to the impact of colonialism and the Christian Church. In this new work – JUMBIE – artist Jamal Gerald attempts to summon the traditional dance form but from a contemporary Queer perspective.
Of the tradition, artist Gerald says, “As someone of Montserratian descent, I only found out about the dance at the age of 25. It’s not something that is spoken about often amongst Montserratian people. I found the lack of discussion to be intriguing. Therefore, I am on a mission to bring back the Jumbie dance as a way to fight the impact of colonialism…and bring an important element of Montserratian culture back to life.”
The show revives the ancient dance art and encourages the audience to indulge in a performance of sensual revelry.
Described as “part ritual, part sex club, part dance party”, JUMBIE is a performance rooted in the history and culture of Montserrat. Raising a defiant middle finger to the church and colonialism, the show revives the ancient dance art and encourages the audience to indulge in a performance of sensual revelry.
Jamal Gerald is an artist and writer based in Leeds and was the recipient of a Jerwood Arts’ Live Work Fund Award in 2021. Making art that is unapologetic and conversational in style, he has created work for poetry slams, films, parties, cafes and theatres which has been shown at Kampnagel (Homberg), SPILL Festival, Leeds Playhouse, Battersea Arts Centre, and the Barbican.
JUMBIE is being presented as part of Submerge Festival launching in spring 2022. The festival aims to create new opportunities for audiences to connect with cutting-edge art in Greater Manchester and beyond.
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