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 Post subject: International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 9:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 712
Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010

I (and hopefully others) will be reporting on events at this year’s festival. The full programme is now out and contains a mix of ballet, contemporary, circus, ballroom and goodness knoiws what else.

The bigger and better known names are:

Thurs 22 - Sat 24 April (Birmingham Hippodrome)
Mark Morris Dance Group - L’allegro, il penseroso ed il Moderato

Fri 23 & Sat 24 April (The Patrick Centre)

Rosie Kay Dance Company - 5 SOLDIERS: The Body is the Frontline

I’ve seen some rehearsals for this and it certainly promises to be timely and thought provoking, and potentially controversial. It explores war in modern times, using interviews with current and former soldiers. Kay spent some time battle training with The 4th Battalion The Rifles while researching for the piece, and has had the benefit of having a serving soldier present at some rehearsals. Her visual artist collaborator David Cotterell spent time in Helmand Province with the Joint Forces Medical Group.

One of the things that will make it really interesting is that so much about how it will be received depends on current events.

Despite the presence on the programme of big names from abroad, this looks like the ‘don’t miss’ event of the Festival.

Tues 27 April – Sat 1 May (Birmingham Hippodrome)
Ballet Nacional de Cuba - Magia de la Danza & Giselle
(includes guest appearances by Carlos Acosta)

Tues 27 & Wed 28 April (Birmingham Repertory Theatre)
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui - Sutra

Performed by 17 monks from the original Shaolin Temple in China, this is an exploration of the philosophy and faith behind the Shaolin tradition, its relationship with Kung-Fu, and its position in today’s society.

Fri 30 April & Sat 1 May (Birmingham Repertory Theatre)
C!RCA presents C!rca

Circus acts combine acrobatic sequences, complex tumbling and powerful solos with dance, light, sound and video.

Tues 4 – Sat 8 May (Birmingham Hippodrome)
Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals

Fri 7 & Sat 8 May (Town Hall Birmingham)
Akram Khan Company - Gnosis

Fri 14 & Sat 15 May (Birmingham Hippodrome)
Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker - Cruel

Other Highlights include United Colours of Dance – Part 1 a free public event in which Birmingham’s Victoria Square will be transformed into a rolling rural landscape, complete with maypoles and grass. We are promised “a stunning colourful extravaganza bringing together four of the world’s best folk dance companies and a group of contemporary dancers.”

It sounds interesting but why do we find it impossible to celebrate folk and traditional dance for what it is without having to ‘fuse’ it with other forms or transform it into something supposedly up to date and hip? As I write this I am sitting in Taipei seeing first-hand how an international festival can celebrate local, traditional culture in a way that is up to date but that retains its integrity. Why can’t we do the same in the UK?

United Colours of Dance – Part 2 takes each of the folk dance companies out and about across the West Midlands to perform their particular form of folk dance, and deliver impromptu workshops/masterclasses with the local community.

A Weekend of Dance from North Africa and the Middle East will showcase work will hail from Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, and Iran, although the final programme is still to be confirmed. Now this is something we rarely see in the UK and looks interesting. Most will be performed in The Patrick Centre, with some at the Ikon Eastside and in studio spaces.

There is also a Family Weekend, with work aimed at children and their families including “Funny Bones”, a piece produced in the West Midlands and performed in the round. There’s also a piece by French company Compagnie Arcosm’s Echoa, described as a Stomp for the younger generation.

A Canals Participatory Project will take four West Midlands based dance artists across the region's canal network on a barge, stopping at a number of locations en route to perform and deliver participatory activity. My immediate thought is fine, but this is a festival trying to establish itself in Birmingham, and doesn’t this rather dilute that focus on the city?

Despite one or two reservations, it looks promising. The inaugural festival in 2008 was excellent, if rather lacking a festival feel. But things take a while to get going, so fingers crossed for 2010.

Full details are on

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