The Project

The Brown Bomber is HMDT’s jazz dance suite by composer Julian Joseph. Choreographed by Sheron Wray, performed by young dancers and the Julian Joseph Quintet as a celebration of sportsmanship and achievement as part of New Music 20×12 – a UK-wide commissioning programme initiated by Jillian Barker and David Cohen, and delivered by PRS for Music Foundation in partnership with the BBC, LOCOG, Sound and Music and NMC Recordings.

The Brown Bomber is based on the heroic sporting battle between American boxer Joe Louis, the first African American to become a national hero, and German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938, bringing to life through music, the connection between two athletes once adversaries in sport, whose friendship endured, despite the idealogical opposition by which they were both surrounded. It focuses on their mental battle inside the ring and celebrates their Olympic values of true sportsmanship, through friendship and mutual respect.

Following on from HMDT’s Shadowball, The Brown Bomber is part of a trilogy focusing on the lives of black sports heroes and their historical, cultural and sporting legacy, and combines a new resource pack for secondary schools, linking thematic and historical material to the curriculum with boxing and dance training. It culminated in performances of the new dance suite at Sadlers Wells, York Hall and the Southbank Centre.

HMDT worked with The Bridge Academy, The Pedro Club and The Boxing Academy to offer the following:

• Composition Workshop with Julian Joseph to devise the music;

• Boxing Training led by James Cook MBE;

• Dance Training led by Pauly Skerrett with guest artist Ann-Marie Lennon;

• Resource Pack introducing the historical context of the story;

• Film Project with Film Maker Tim Corrigan to create a backdrop for the piece;

• Rehearsals and Performances of The Brown Bomber Dance Suite, working with Julian Joseph and choreographer Sheron Wray.