Elroy Josephs and the hidden history of Black British Dance




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This chapter gives a brief overview of the career of the black British dance artist and teacher Elroy Josephs and reflects on the reasons for his relative obscurity. Josephs danced with Les Ballets Nègres in 1952. From the late 1950s until the early 1970s, he appeared on stage and screen as a dancer, and sometimes actor, in Britain. In the early 1970s, in Camden, he started a community dance project and was appointed as one of the Greater London Arts Association’s (GLAA) first dance animateurs. In 1979 he became the first black lecturer in dance in British higher education teaching at IM Marsh in Liverpool, subsequently part of Liverpool John Moores University. In 1993 he chaired an event “What is Black Dance in Britain?” There are largely unwritten assumptions about the British dance history narrative in which black British artists are largely marginalized. Josephs specialized in jazz dance, and spent his later years working away from the metropolitan center. By offering an overview of Josephs’s career, this paper raises questions about how the de facto canon of British dance history can become more diverse and inclusive.




Burt, R (2019) Elroy Josephs and the hidden history of Black British Dance. In: Helen Thomas and Stacey Prickett eds. The Routledge Companion to Dance Studies, London and New York: Routledge.


Research Institute

Institute of Drama, Dance and Performance Studies