International Dance Festival Birmingham kicks off on 19 April and runs through to 15 May.
At this point I should chuck in a disclaimer that I’ve been working with the festival’s organisers for a year or so on how they approach things online. However, that does mean that I’ve got a bit of a clue about what the line-up includes. Which is nice, because there are any number of ways of slicing and dicing a festival’s programme – this is my attempt to group it up a bit.
- Rosie Kay Dance Company – 5 SOLDIERS The Body is the Frontline – Rosie’s based in Birmingham and this is a new commission which will explore the physical toll taken by war
- Colin Dunne – Out of Time – Colin was born in Birmingham, was nine times world Irish step dance champion and also principal dancer in Riverdance. This is his first full-length solo work
- DX Productions & Two’s Company – Funny Bones – something for the kids: a brand new in-the-round double bill of contemporary dance for over 5’s.
Big ticket items
- Akram Khan Company – Gnosis. See pic above.
- Mark Morris Dance Group – L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. This has had more 5 star reviews than I’ve had hot dinners.
- Ballet Nacional de Cuba – Magia de la Danza and Giselle.
- Outspoken Weekend. Something you won’t see anywhere else – a season dedicated to new performances from Arab artists, 8 shows in all (see the What’s On page for the lot)
Something a bit different
- Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui/Sadler’s Wells London – Sutra. 17 Shaolin monks. A set designed by Antony Gormley. Sharp suits. Nuff said.
- C!RCA – Circa. Described as ‘a thoroughly new circus’. This was a big hit at last the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
- Chris Haring – Running Sushi. I don’t know much about this other than that it’ll be at Ikon Eastside and the order of the 12 performances will be chosen by audience members who picking sushi off a plate
For IDFB 2008, Victoria Square was taken over by two stages, gantries, firecracker-stuffed cars and three dance companies. It was so good I went twice. This year we’re told that:
contemporary dancers will form a brand new dance company collective alongside Russian, Spanish, Indian and African folk dance groups, all moving to the turbo-folk Gypsy and Balkan beats of Birmingham’s very own band The Destroyers
The event’s called UTOPIA and will be performed a few times over the Bank Holiday weekend of 1-3 May. In the words of the choreographer:
There’ll be bits of furniture all over the place and basically it’ll look like 40 people, plus the band, have attacked the square
Which sounds pretty good. As does Waves, which is right up my street. Wander past the Hippodrome between 8-11pm from 22 April to 5 May to see/play with that.
Put Your Foot Down is the final showpiece on 15 May – an afternoon of free performances and dance demos, with a mass synchronised hip hop/street dance routine lead by Salah, a hugely popular hip hop artist from France, in St Martin’s Square, Bullring.
There’s also a whole bunch of workshops and classes you can get involved in.