Black Victorians

Jeanefer Jean-Charles & Associates


Performers are wearing black tops with large black cage skirts that are on top of colourful cage skirts underneath. All of them are bound by a rope from wrist to wrist. It is a sunny day and they are surrounded by a crowded audience.

Black Victorians is an engaging and curious dance performance that highlights and celebrates the diverse black presences in 19th and early 20th Century Britain.

The work is inspired by “Black Chronicles – The Missing Chapter”, an ongoing curatorial research programme led by Autograph focused on unearthing nineteenth century photographs of black presences in Britain’s archives. Black Victorians is accompanied by a display of the Black Chronicles’ Exhibition In A Box produced by, and presented in association with, Autograph, London.

This powerful dance performance by Artistic Director and Choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles MBE is inspired by nineteenth century studio photographs of black men, women and children.
Exploring a complex, but often forgotten black presence in pre-Windrush Britain, this performance calls attention to previously hidden figures and challenges historical and contemporary perceptions.


‘Rebellion is when you look society in the face and say
I understand who you want me to be, but I’m going to show you who I actually am.’

Anthony Anaxagorou

About Jeanefer Jean-Charles & Associates

Creative Director & Choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles is a globally respected artist, specialising in large-scale outdoor performances. Since starting her journey as Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Bullies Ballerinas’ Jazz Dance Company, her work has taken her to over 21 countries. Her unique creative process aims to bring to life the talents, strengths and shared stories of local communities and artists in inspiring and unforgettable ways.

Her career highlights include the role of Mass Movement Coordinator for all four of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies and Roald Dahl’s City of the Unexpected in Cardiff, Artistic Director for The Rugby League World Cup Opening Ceremony (2013) and directed Spirit of Woolwich in Transe Express Cristal Palace show for Greenwich Festival Global Streets event (2019).

Creative / Production credits

Artistic Director and Choreographer
Jeanefer Jean-Charles

Marsha Roddy

Creative Consultant
Martha Stylianou

DJ Walde

Poet and Writer
Anthony Anaxagorou

Hassan Mahamdallie

Alison Holder

Seun Olayiwola, Dani Harris-Walters, Melissa Bravo, Nosiphiwo Samente, Duja Sinada

Thank you to Pearl Jordan, Máire Clerkin and Vicki Igbokwe for their time and support and thank you to English Touring Theatre for the generosity in providing space. We would like to acknowledge and thank Historic Royal Palaces for their financial support during the first two stages of research and development in 2019.

Black Victorians is inspired by Black Chronicles – The Missing Chapter, an ongoing archive research programme led by Autograph focused on unearthing nineteenth century photographs of black presences in Britain. Black Victorians is accompanied by a display of the Black Chronicles’ Exhibition In A Box presented in assocation with Autograph, London.

Image credits:

Featured Image – Black Victorians by Jeanefer Jean Charles 2021 © Ash Mills

Funding, commissioning and partner credits:

Black Victorians is supported by Historic Royal Palaces and R&D investment through Without Walls Blueprint. With thanks to the St George’s Garrison Church Trust.

Black Victorians is supported by Without Walls and commissioned by FESTIVAL.ORG, Hat Fair and Brighton Festival.