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Posted on Mon 30 May
Birmingham International Dance Festival will turn the city into a dance floor this month, and Lucie Mirkova, Head of Artistic Programmes for the festival, is promising to get everyone up on their feet…
Produced by FABRIC (the new strategic organisation created by the recent merger of Birmingham’s DanceXchange and Nottingham’s Dance4) Birmingham International Dance Festival (BIDF) is presented this year in partnership with Birmingham 2022 Festival. Taking place across the city’s public spaces and theatres BIDF is already the largest event of its kind in the UK. But this year’s offering promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with an extensive programme showcasing not only talent from around the West Midlands but also artists from across the Commonwealth, to tie in with the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games.
The jam-packed programme showcases some of the best in current choreography, online screendance and professional industry events, including nine world and 11 UK premieres. Much of BIDF is free and outdoors, with opportunities for everyone to join in the dancing across the city.
“The overarching theme for this year’s festival, and for the festival going forward, is to see Birmingham as a dance floor,” explains Lucie Mirkova, Head of Artistic Programmes at FABRIC.
“We have created an array of incredible opportunities in public spaces where people can come together, join in and experience the joy of dance.”
Lucie’s background gives her an appreciation of the benefits of inclusive dance as she founded a community dance company in her home city of Prague before going on to study choreography. She arrived in the UK in 2010 to take an MA in Arts Management & Policy, before beginning work on BIDF in 2013.
BIDF’s participatory events aim to bring local people together to share their stories. Tappin’ In is one such initiative. Taking place on 18 June, the free-to-attend mass-participation tap-dancing and storytelling ‘extravaganza ‘ will see Brindleyplace stage Birmingham’s biggest tap lesson, with people from across the West Midlands being invited to take part in a performance of the classic tap dance routine, Shim Sham.
Also bringing together people from across the region are inclusive dance collective Critical Mass. Uniting young people with and without disabilities from all over the West Midlands, the ensemble made their debut performance as part of Wondrous Stories - the event which kicked off Birmingham 2022 Festival - and will be participating in the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Critical Mass 2022 is a £1 million project funded by the Spirit of 2012 charity, to encourage the legacy of London 2012. The world premiere of Critical Mass’ show, SENSE, will open BIDF in Centenary Square. It will be followed by a deaf rave from London-based Deaf DJ, performer, festival curator and events organiser Troi Lee.
Through these community and participation events BIDF will be showcasing more than 450 individuals on a global stage. A world first in inclusive community activity.
BIDF’s outdoor programme also includes a return to Handsworth Park to present an amazing weekend of dance. “Our first visit last year was a huge success, bringing the festival right into the heart of the community’ says Lucie, ‘so this year the programme is even more ambitious with live music, workshops, performances and the world premiere of two new Hip Hop dance performances by Midlands artists, commissioned in partnership with Punch Records and Gallery 37.”
The festival also features a fascinating theatre programme featuring artists from across the Commonwealth, designed to celebrate Games coming to Birmingham this summer, BIDF is encouraging collaborations between local and Commonwealth artists.
“This festival is about the intersection between the global and the local,” explains Lucie. “Our aim is to reflect Birmingham and the people who live here, as well as put a spotlight on things that are happening around the globe.
“We’re doing that through our programme, by looking at the journeys and identities of our artists and how they approach their art, but also through the local and global working together. We have international artists working with local audiences as well as local artists working alongside international performers. That mix is at the core of what we’re doing at the festival.”
This spotlight perhaps shines brightest during the second weekend of BIDF, which is themed Dance Around The World. The jam-packed programme, bringing together UK and global dance, includes an experimental dance-battle contest called KRE8!, a daring circus performance inside a huge 7m high rotating hourglass, and thrilling UK premieres from Belgium, Spain, France and Canada.
Lucie explains that supporting Midlands-based artists to grow is a core goal of BIDF, and the festival’s primary motivation is to open up new ways for local communities to experience dance. And from ceilidhs and swing dance to silent discos and urban fusion, there’s something for everyone at this year’s event.
“The overall ambition for us is for everyone to see dance and dancing as part of their life. Birmingham International Dance Festival creates the opportunity for people to try things for free and without any commitment, and then maybe they’ll enjoy something new that will become part of their lives.
“I hope that people will feel joy and feel empowered by the sense of togetherness and community.”
Birmingham International Dance Festival 2022 takes place at various locations across the city from 17 June to 3 July. For further information on all events, visit bidf.co.uk
Feature by Ellie Hutchings
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