City performing artists celebrate Jamaican life and 75 years since Windrush.

By Hamish Armstrong (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Two alumni and a student from Urdang at City, University of London had the honour of performing at the Jamaican High Commission’s celebration for the 61st anniversary of the island of Jamaica and 75th anniversary of Windrush.

Titled ‘Rebuilding Dreams: A Dance Tribute to the Windrush Generation’, the performance at Westminster Chapel depicted the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the Windrush generation upon arrival in the United Kingdom.

Urdang students and alumni perform for Jamaican High Commission

Nataleah Marshall (third-year Professional Dance and Musical Theatre BA), Trézel Sergeant (Urdang Academy, 2020) and Stanley Duventry-Huret (Urdang Academy, 2019) performed the piece, which was produced by David Blake, Director of Urdang, in collaboration with Neo Gordon, Lecturer Head of Commercial and Street Dance and Ainsley Ricketts, Urdang alumnus.

Nataleah said she was very proud to have been asked to perform with her family ties to Windrush.

“It was a great honour to be asked to participate in the Windrush Commemoration, having just finished working on the Urdang Summer Showcase,” she said.

“I was really happy to be selected, and knew how significant and amazing an experience it would be as my great grandparents were part of Windrush.

My favourite aspect of training at Urdang is being able to study in a diverse environment, and be surrounded by successful industry professionals and performers that will no doubt help guide me into the performing arts industry.

“When I finish my training, I would love to get the opportunity of a contract on a cruise or even dance for an artist on tour.”

Urdang students and alumni perform for Jamaican High Commission

Trézel graduated from Urdang three years ago and has continued to work with David Blake on a number of projects. Being of Jamaican descent, the chance to perform at this celebration was one he was keen to take.

“It was an honour to perform at this event and tell the story of my ancestors,” he said.

“My family has experienced many of the same things that were displayed in our performance. There would have been people separated from family, people who ended up creating new families, people who were scared and afraid of this new environment, and people who were excited to see what this new life could bring them.

“We really wanted to showcase how all these people pulled together to support each other during this time so that they could thrive.

“As a student at Urdang, I was provided with amazing training opportunities and able to partake in many masterclasses led by external teachers who came in to give us an even wider scope of the industry.

“I really loved the variety of classes that we were able to experience as well as the high standard of training that we received. It has really helped my peers and I become well-rounded performers and find work in multiple avenues of the industry – while feeling ready and prepared to take on new challenges.”

David Blake

David Blake said the performance highlighted the talents and reputation of Urdang students.

“In the space of just a few weeks, Nataleah, Trézel and Stanley have put together a high energy, professional performance.

For our students to be asked to perform at such an important milestone event speaks to their calibre and the high regard in which Urdang is held.

“Nataleah was handpicked for the piece after her excellent performance in the Summer Showcase. Her talent and skills perfectly complemented the essence of the tribute, adding depth and grace to the choreography.

“Trézel is a seasoned collaborator who has worked on several projects with me and was invited due to his artistic sensibility and outstanding dedication. Stanley was recommended by Neo Gordon for his versatility and adaptability, which enhanced the overall dynamics of the performance. Together, the talented trio formed a cohesive unit with the other two dancers Annie Blomfield and Harley Charles from Blake Arts.

“Special thanks must also go to Neo and Ainsley, as well as Brenda Edwards MBE, former principle dancer with the English National Ballet who supported our creative process by providing comprehensive understanding of the historical context and significance of the Windrush generation.”

“The show exemplifies the reputation Urdang has for creating opportunities for our students and graduates in theatre, dance and performance.”

Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who officiated the service, added:

“The Liturgical Dance was one of the best that I have ever seen. The performances were terrific and the music accompanied it brilliantly as well.”

About Urdang at City, University of London

Urdang, previously known as Urdang Academy was acquired by City, University of London in 2022, as part of an ambitious new strategy to enhance and develop City’s reputation for music and its engagement with practice and the creative industries.

Urdang educates and trains students in Musical Theatre and Dance to become strong, disciplined, and confident performers. Boasting a modern outlook, dynamic atmosphere, and inspiring backdrop, Urdang is an energising and contemporary place to study.

Find out more about Urdang.

Read about the Professional Dance and Musical Theatre BA at Urdang, City, University of London.