From Saturday 19 September visitors to Wolverhampton Art Gallery will be able to explore the largely unwritten and unrecorded story of Indian dance in the Black Country.

Nritya Black Country, curated by Jaivant Patel Dance, an award-winning arts organisation rooted in Wolverhampton, explores the history of the development of Indian dance in the region between 1960 and 2000. 

During the second half of the twentieth century, migrants from the Indian subcontinent arrived in the United Kingdom to start a new life. They brought art forms with them that were new to this country and shared them. The first generation of artists were innovators. They brought their classical, folk and traditional dance styles, finding space in temples, community halls and cultural events where they could perform and keep their Indian heritage alive. This embedded an appreciation of Indian dance into the wider cultural fabric of the country. This contributed towards establishing the British South Asian culture, enabling communities to feel proud, place value on and have ownership of their heritage and art forms that had travelled with them. 

The exhibition, which will be hosted at the Lichfield Street gallery until Sunday 20 December, shares stories, photographs, films and objects collected from some of the pioneer dancers, teachers, choreographers and members of the local community. The items gathered allow visitors to discover the interwoven threads, connecting place, people and cultural heritage - and look to the future with contemporary artists reinventing Indian dance.

Elements of this heritage project will be held at Wolverhampton City Archives, preserving them for future generations to share.

Councillor Stephen Simkins, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “Wolverhampton Art Gallery hosts a number of exhibitions and one thing we pride ourselves on is the diversity of our programme and being able to work with communities to tell their stories.

“This exhibition gives us a chance to understand and appreciate a diverse culture that is a part of our city, by understanding we learn so much about our city and the people within it and provides a lasting legacy that will be held at the City Archives.

“I hope visitors to the gallery will enjoy this exhibition alongside the permanent and temporary exhibitions also on display, whilst adhering to the social distancing measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.”

Entry to Nritya Black Country is free. Wolverhampton Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday (10.30am until 4.30pm) and Sundays (11am until 4pm). The café is also open. 

Social distancing measures are in place, including a one-way system around the gallery, and visitors will be asked screening questions on arrival. Face coverings are mandatory for visiting. There is a video available at Wolverhampton Arts and Culture to see what to expect before you visit. 

Nritya Black Country is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Please visit Nritya Black Country for further information.