All eyes will fall on Birmingham next year as the city again hosts its renowned International Dance Festival, writes Diane Parkes.
Birmingham will play host to the finest performers from around the world as part of the city’s International Dance Festival.
Sylvie Guillem together with Russell Maliphant, Royal Ballet of Flanders, controversial Canadian choreographer Dave St-Pierre, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and Jonzi D have all been confirmed for the month-long festival next spring.
More than 1,000 people are also being asked to get involved in a huge public event called Home. Based on people’s ideas of the meaning of home, the final performance will see dancers moving through the streets of the city performing on doormats.
The biennial festival, which was first held in Birmingham in 2008, will reach theatres, public spaces and the streets of the city between April 23 and May 19.
Venues taking part include Birmingham Hippodrome, Warwick Arts Centre, The Crescent and Mac, with outdoor works planned for Victoria Square and the city centre.
At its helm are co-artistic directors David Massingham, who is artistic director of DanceXchange, and Stuart Griffiths, Hippodrome chief executive. They told the launch at Birmingham’s Patrick Centre they were hoping to build on the success of the previous festival in 2010 which saw audience involvement of more than 60,000 people.
“This festival is no longer the new kid on the block,” said Mr Massingham. “And the main aim is always looking for bright new ideas. It is about bringing the world of dance together in Birmingham.
“The city’s existing dance offering, provided by DanceXchange, Birmingham Hippodrome and Birmingham Royal Ballet, has already created the biggest dance hub in the UK.
“IDFB 2012 not only creates a window to what is now a world centre for dance, but extends our reach to new, young audiences by breaking free from traditional venues and providing opportunities to participate in many different ways.
“The central IDFB 2012 productions will bring together the positive aspects of community and engage thousands of people across the region.
“With many of the festival’s events being free of charge, IDFB 2012 is a great opportunity for us to work with our partners to help promote and celebrate Birmingham’s rich cultural offering to a wide audience.”
IDFB 2012 is sponsored by investment management consultants Brewin Dolphin and receives nearly £1 million in public money. Funding comes from Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and Advantage West Midlands with an additional grant from the European Union via the Investing in the City Regional ERDF project managed by Marketing Birmingham. This year there is also additional funding from Dancing for the Games, part of the Cultural Olympiad in the West Midlands, specifically for the Home project.
Operations and Policy Director at Marketing Birmingham Tim Manson said the city as a whole needs to recognise the benefits of the international event.
“The festival helps make Birmingham distinctive and it is important that the wider business community gets behind festivals such as this.
“We need to build festivals to encourage people to stay in our city and to spend across the whole city. It helps to grow jobs and sustain these festivals for when the funding runs out.”
IDFB will launch with Royal Ballet Flanders performing Artifact at Birmingham Hippodrome on April 25-26. Created by choreographer William Forsythe, it is a four part ballet set to piano music by Eva Crossman-Hecht and J S Bach.
It is closely followed by Canadian choreographer Dave St-Pierre’s Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde! (translated as A little tenderness for crying out loud!) at Warwick Arts Centre.
When this controversial work, in which naked dancers interact with the audience, was staged at London’s Sadler’s Wells this spring it caused very strong reactions with members of the paying public and critics walking out of the theatre. Internationally renowned dancer Sylvie Guillem performs at Birmingham Hippodrome for the first time along with Russell Maliphant in Push.
The third IDFB also sees Birmingham Royal Ballet involved for the first time. The Hippodrome Company, which last year celebrated 20 years in the city, will be performing a new commission by American choreographer Jessica Lang and working with Birmingham-born Tim Rushton, artistic director of Danish Dance Theatre.
Following the success of visits by Ballet Nacional de Cuba and Cuban dancer Carlos Acosta, the Hippodrome plays host to a new side to the Caribbean nation, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba.
And the festival finale will be an outdoor spectacular in Victoria Square based on the Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire. It brings together the circus skills of Australian company Circa, dance by Hereford-based 2Faced Dance Company and architectural projection on the facade of the Town Hall by London-based art and technology firm Seeper.
Mr Massingham says this event aims to break new ground.
“It is moving Wings of Desire from Berlin to Birmingham and this whole experience will be interactive,” he said.
* For more information on next year’s festival go to www.idfb.co.uk