Birmingham to be new centre for international dance
This week Birmingham was put on the international dance map.
Tuesday marked the launch of International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010 - the dates are confirmed, artists and venues booked, and guests and the event were treated to a taster of some of the acts scheduled to perform.
To sum up just how impressive the programme is and the prospects this festival brings to Birmingham, one guest said: "You'd usually have to travel to Europe to find this sort of thing, and now it's on our doorstep."
Next year between Monday 19 April and Sunday 16 May, a host of dance stars will light up Birmingham's streets. The highlights showcase an impressive array of dance styles and artist collaborations, and each performance in the busy programme looks utterly unmissable.
Ballet National de Cuba will provide an opportunity to see how a Central American company do Giselle, with guest appearances by the darling of the Royal Ballet Carlos Acosta. Deborah Colker will return to Birmingham with Companhia de DanÃÂ§a from Brazil, Akram Khan will be performing a new solo Gnosis in his rare blend of Kathak and contemporary dance, Sidi Larbi's Sutra with sets from Anthony Gormley will surely be a hit, and the Strictly Come Dancing Professionals will undoubtedly attract their usual Saturday night cohort.
It is truly going to be the leviathan of the dance scene for 2010, securing Birmingham as a big player in the arena of world dance and making sure all eyes are on this city for that one month. With the world looking in, the festival will also present some of its best homegrown talent in the form of Rosie Kay and her dance company's commissioned piece 5 Soldiers: The Body is the Frontline, as well as a spectacular outdoor show in Victoria Square called United Colours of Dance and 2FaCeD DaNcE company (performing at The Patrick Centre this week) will be rounding off the festival with a mass participation dance.
Festival organisers are using the city's best assets bringing dance to all the nooks and crannies of the region - putting dance into unusual venues including the Town Hall, Ikon Eastside and even West Midlands' canals.
The International Dance Festival Birmingham 2010 (@idfb2010) is a perfect example of joined up thinking. Founded by head of DanceXchange David Massingham and head of Birmingham Hippodrome Stuart Griffiths - Birmingham's biggest dance organisations have put their heads together and the outcome is explosive. The 2008 festival was considered a huge success, but this festival looks set to be even bigger and better, making sure the region's residents get to see the best dance has to offer, while regional artists and organisations will also benefit from workshops and educational programmes. As James from Stan's Cafe said on his blog:
There are not enough opportunities to see really high quality international artists performing in the UK and it's great have the festival addressing this issue.
The long term vision is the make Birmingham the international centre for dance. Few people know Birmingham is sells the most tickets for dance outside of London. This festival will confirm its place as a leader in dance and is demonstration to the rest of the UK of what can be done when organisations collaborate and support each other for a common goal and understanding. In this case it is, as Stuart Griffiths said at the launch event, that dance can be used as a force for good.