Egypt, Lebanon, South Africa, Canada and Switzerland are just some of the countries from which dancers will flock to Birmingham for a major festival.

There will even be the chance to learn how to perform the traditional Maori war dance of the Haka, thanks to New Zealand choreographer Corey Baker.

One of the Europe’s biggest dance events, the award-winning International Dance Festival Birmingham (IDFB) happens every two years. Staged in 2008, 2010 and 2012, it returns in 2014 for four weeks from April 24 to May 25.

It will bring the theatres, streets and squares of Birmingham to life with a programme bursting with world-class performers, collaborations and new commissions.

The festival will work for the first time with Birmingham’s Symphony Hall to create Concert Dansé. It’s an ambitious reimagining of Duruflé’s Requiem performed by Birmingham choir Ex Cathedra alongside dance company Cas Public, from Quebec, and a cast of 50 UK musicians and dancers.

Birmingham Royal Ballet will kick off the 2014 festival with two mixed bills featuring world premieres of new works by young choreographers, in Kit Holder’s Quatrain and Alexander Whitley’s Kin. They will be performed alongside Sir Frederick Ashton’s Le Rendezvous and Façade.

IDFB 2014 performance highlights at Birmingham Hippodrome include Swiss Company Alias’ mesmerising Sideways Rain and Vancouver’s Kidd Pivot led by Crystal Pite, who will perform the Shakespeare inspired Tempest Replica.

Familiar names returning for the festival include the legendary Sylvie Guillem, Sadler’s Wells’ Breakin Convention and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s new work m¡longa, a contemporary take on Argentine tango.

Matthew Bourne brings a new production of Lord of the Flies to the Hippodrome, featuring a cast of young Midlands performers.

In DanceXchange’s studio theatre The Patrick Centre, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein explores themes of identity in Border Tales, Mickael ‘Marso’ Riviere presents a double bill working with Egyptian and Lebanese artists and South Asian dance artist Aakash Odedra collaborates with Ars Electronica from Austria.

Birmingham Rep hosts the Canadian circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main’s new show Séquence 8, and Irish company Fabulous Beast perform their version of The Rite of Spring & Petrushka at Warwick Arts Centre.

David Massingham
David Massingham

Also new for IDFB 2014 is a weekly opportunity to ‘paint the town red’ with a series of social dance events open to all – in a range of styles including swing and lindy-hop, tango, capoeira, jazz fusion and house.

Spaces across Birmingham will throw open their doors to host weekly public gatherings such as a Brazilian street party, a midnight tango milonga and a footwork fusion dance night. Concluding this year’s IDFB will once again be a major free outdoor performance in Victoria Square called B-Town. International performers from the worlds of street dance and music unite to present a b-boy dance spectacular battling across multiple stages in the square.

David Massingham, artistic director of DanceXchange and co-artistic director of IDFB 2014, said: “This IDFB will continue to build on the successes of our previous three festivals, reaching wider and new audiences for dance by presenting work in innovative ways and creating new opportunities to participate.

“IDFB 2014 gives DanceXchange and Birmingham Hippodrome the opportunity to present a wide range of innovative and entertaining dance.”

Stuart Griffiths, chief executive of Birmingham Hippodrome and co-artistic director of IDFB 2014, added: “We are very pleased that once again we have the support of funding partners at Arts Council England, Birmingham City Council and the European Union.

The wider economic benefits of arts activities such as IDFB are significant.

“We feel certain that this high quality festival programme will again deliver strong engagement and draw international attention to the city.”

Writers in series of talks at university

Top writers will be visiting the University of Birmingham as part of an ongoing series of talks.

The series, called Creative Minds at Birmingham, began last autumn with talks from the award-winning poet Jamie McKendrick and the writer Bernard MacLaverty. Future speakers include Michael Longley, Alice Oswald and playwright Simon Stephen.

Professor Michael Toolan, who is hosting the series, said the series was a new venture by the university’s School of English. He said the interests that link the very different writers in the programme were nature and nationhood. “All the writers in the Creative Minds series have had subtle and thought-provoking things to say about nationhood and national identity, in their poems, plays, and fiction,” he said.

Michael Longley has written poems probing echoes and parallels between the epic slaughter of the Homeric Trojan War and certain phases of The Troubles in his Northern Ireland homeland. Kathleen Jamie has written a memorably-titled poetry collection around the time of the establishment of the Scottish Parliament: Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead. The poet is also a celebrated practitioner of creative non-fiction. In her work Among Muslims, she explored similarities between her own small-town Scottish childhood and the purdah-observing Shia Muslims she encountered when travelling alone in the Himalayas, where India and Afghanistan meet.

* Michael Longley will give a talk at the university on February 20 and Kathleen Jamie on February 26. Tickets cost £6. For details visit: