All RISE – Spectacular show kicks off Brent’s year as London Borough of Culture

20 January 2020

Thousands of people were taken back in time as they watched a community cast of hundreds telling the story of Brent through dance, spoken word and projections underneath the iconic Wembley arch.

RISE, the opening event to launch Brent as the London Borough of Culture for 2020, took viewers through some of Brent’s most well-known history on Saturday (Jan 18).

Brent’s large Irish and West Indian populations were celebrated as contemporary dancers showcased the arrival of the communities who settled in the borough in the 1940’s and made Brent their home. For generations, people of different countries, faiths and backgrounds came to find a new life in Brent.

West Indian migration to Brent was recognised

There was reference to the huge mark Brent has made in the football world with a nod to Brent born Cyrille Regis and Raheem Sterling as a community cast of dancers performed a football inspired routine with the world famous Wembley Stadium as a backdrop.

Trojan Records and the reggae were next on the scene as dancers paid homage to Brent’s history as the gateway to reggae music in the UK. Brent has a rich contribution of music to Britain and was once home to Bob Marley and the Wailers as they toured the UK in the 1970’s.

Neasden is home to the largest temple in Europe. Members of the Temple and dancers from the Hindu community showcased their talents as they portrayed the labour of love that helped build the temple.

Asian dancers

The Grunwick Strike, which took place in Dollis Hill, was a protest of the working conditions faced by the staff of mainly Asian women. Led by Jayaben Desai, the strike became a movement. In a visual spectacle that included the now famous words Jayaben said in protest, community dancers waved flags and placards to recreate the strike and the picket lines that were set up in the 70s.

Spoken word and a “holi” inspired dance piece brought the performance to its crowd pleasing final lead by General Levy who performed his hit “Incredible”, surrounded by hundreds of local dancers from across Brent’s diverse communities.

General Levy performs "Incredible"

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council said: “I was born in Brent in 1966 and have lived here my whole life. I grew up with people from all over the world who have settled in Brent and made this borough their home.

“I’m so proud to be a lifelong Brent resident and the launch of the Borough of Cultures perfectly captured the true diversity and history of our borough.”

Lois Stonock, Artistic Director of London Borough of Cultures said: “RISE was a celebration of the huge positive contribution that different cultures have made to Brent both economically and culturally. This is just the start of a huge programme of events this year. Keep your eye on Brent 2020, there is so much more to come. We are just getting started!”

Southpaw Dance Company produced the event which was commissioned by Metroland Culture. The Principal Partner was Wembley Park.


RISE - Opening Event - 18 January 2020