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Three Dance Festivals in Birmingham

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by dpm (subscribe)
dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
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Three festivals take over the city
There will be dancing in the streets in Birmingham this June with three huge festivals taking across venues and outdoor spaces.

Birmingham International Dance Festival (BIDF), B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival and Curated by Carlos are expected to attract audiences from far and wide to see performers from across the globe. Created separately by DanceXchange, Birmingham Hippodrome and Birmingham Royal Ballet, the festivals are joining force to put Birmingham firmly on the dance map this summer.

BIDF 2018
BIDF 2018. Photo: Dani Blower

Launched in 2008, and produced by DanceXchange, the city's dance development agency, BIDF is Birmingham's biennial signature festival. BIDF 2020 will take place from June 15-21, bringing world-class dance and choreography to venues and public spaces across the city. This will include a substantial free outdoor programme taking over Birmingham's Centenary Square, showcasing some of the best dance performances currently touring from across the world, as well as social dance activity, workshops and lots of opportunities for everyone to take part.

Birmingham Hippodrome's B-SIDE Festival, now in its fifth year, has grown to become the UK's biggest free hip-hop festival and one of the largest in Europe. This year's event between May 29-June 7 features dance battles, live music, graffiti, theatre and spoken word, street sports, films, talks and workshops.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's festival Curated by Carlos marks the ballet superstar Carlos Acosta becoming the company's new director. Audiences will have the chance to see Acosta's huge production of Don Quixote, only ever seen in the UK before at the Royal Opera House, enjoy an exhibition by acclaimed visual artist Conrad Shawcross which is inspired by Victorian mathematician Ada Lovelace, complete with a robot and live musicians, and hear talks by artists and writers who inspire Carlos Acosta. This culminates in a Family Day packed full of free activities taking over Birmingham Hippodrome on Saturday June 27.

BRB The Ada Project
The Ada Project

With all three festivals coming together, Birmingham Hippodrome artistic director and chief executive Fiona Allan says the city will be packed with opportunities for people to see, participate in and enjoy dance.

She says: "Festivals like BIDF and B-SIDE have built up a strong reputation and have always been designed to be festivals which are largely outside of the theatre that's how you encourage people to see dance. For a lot of people, a chance encounter with something that is happening in a festival outdoors is the way they will first have any kind of contact with dance as an art form."

And she adds: "They will see something which is bold, brave, exciting and different that they didn't even know that they liked. And they can do that without spending any money or having to dress up, or go anywhere formal or feel they are making a commitment to sitting down and watching a performance for two hours. It's breaking down the barriers to enjoying dance, it's making it as easy as possible for people to come across something that is enlivening our streets and making Birmingham a more interesting place to be."

With the new addition of Curated by Carlos, which takes place at the Hippodrome, the three festivals will feature a huge range of dance and other activities from hip-hop to robots and contemporary to classical ballet.

Fiona says: "This year there's a lot more cross-over planned between these festivals which demonstrates the partnership between ourselves, DanceXchange and Birmingham Royal Ballet. A great example is that B-SIDE will be performing during the opening night of BIDF as part of a large-scale outdoor programme that kick-starts BIDF's exciting ten-day takeover of Centenary Square. And Birmingham Royal Ballet will perform Carlos Acosta's stunning production of Don Quixote at the Birmingham Hippodrome as part of the final weekend of BIDF."

BIDF attracts artists from all over the world committed to pushing the boundaries of dance as a contemporary artform, as well as providing a platform for local talent to shine. Since its beginnings in 2008, it has become a powerful cultural asset for the city and it continues to grow in reputation and significance internationally.

BRB this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of its move to Birmingham and in more recent years the city has become the base for other internationally recognised dance companies and artists including Rosie Kay and Sonia Sabri, who are both associate artists of the Hippodrome.

Last year saw the move of One Dance UK to the city and the official opening of Dance Hub, a new studio and office space on top of the Hippodrome building. Fiona says all this development is having positive results for the dance community and audiences in the city.

Both BIDF and B-SIDE have brought new audiences to the city and the partners hope to continue that work with the addition of BRB's Curated by Carlos.


Fiona says: "B-SIDE is one of our home-grown festivals and it has always been about free and low-cost access to amazing dance and graffiti arts. Last year we introduced urban sports like basketball and BMX biking. B-SIDE has grown incredibly over the past five years from something which was just held in our Patrick Studio when we first started, to something which is now taking over the Arcadian and venues outside. It took over a car park last year and it has also been presented on our main stage in the Hippodrome. It brings in a very different audience 61 per cent of people we engage through B-SIDE Festival have never been to the Hippodrome before."

And she adds: "With Carlos Acosta coming to Birmingham Royal Ballet, his vision and energy for BRB will renew a focus on young and diverse audiences and it's fantastic that Don Quixote will be performed for the first time outside of London here at the Hippodrome."

For more on the individual festivals see:
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Why? Three dance festivals take over the city
When: June 2020
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Multiple sites
Cost: Free and various costs
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