Sweet Liquor is a collaboration between renowned black Britsh poet, Malika Booker and dancer/choreographer Leon Rose. The poem is taken from Booker’s prize winning collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press) and explores the world of the soca fete. It tells the story of a young Caribbean soldier, recently returned from war with psychological scars, who finds out that he has been re-drafted.
The piece explores a dance-poetry collaboration in which the dance centers around social dancing: its impact on the individual and the community. The aim was to make something experimental and edgy with a political message. In selecting the dancer/choreographer the goal was to find someone who would look totally natural dancing soca, as well as being a skilled professional dancer/choreographer. Latin and contemporary dancer, internationally known Leon Rose, who has twenty years of dance and choreography experience, was the perfect choice: both he and Malika have been going to Carnival since they were a few months old. Their mothers would argue that they took part in Carnival while in the womb. When the piece was being filmed, it quickly became clear that there was something magical in the way the two artists danced together; it spoke both of the relationship between the man and the woman in the poem, but also spoke to the wider relationships between genders in this part of the world. Here we see a woman as the strong voice and rock able to contain and comfort a young, damaged man. Combined with the beautiful and haunting pan music of composer Kyron Akal, (composed for this piece) the result was a piece which challenges stereotypes of soca and carnival and brings a beautiful, fierce poem to life.