From capoeira to ceilidh and from Bollywood to belly dance, South East Dance promises an exciting line-up for Our City Dances 2019, Brighton & Hove’s annual free festival of dance.
South East Dance, the Brighton-based arts charity dedicated to “making life better through dance”, will be offering 26 free performances, workshops and events.
Together they make up Our City Dances over the weekend of June 29-30, a free family-friendly celebration of dance designed to whet the city’s appetite in the run-up to the opening of new community dance venue The Dance Space in 2020.
Day one on Saturday, June 29 is packed with opportunities to have a go at dance, with more than 15 workshops and events for the whole family to take part in from hula-hooping and capoeira to a Charleston-inspired ceilidh.
On Sunday, June 30, you’re invited to watch and take part in a series of professional dance commissions around the city centre, including:
• Without Touch by BitterSuite at Brighton Youth Centre – a sensory guide leads you to a space where you can close your eyes and experience music and dance through your senses.
• Wheelchair Tango at Brooke Mead Extra Care Facility - by Brighton-based artist and choreographer Anna Alvarez, a piece in which a wheelchair dancer duets with a non-disabled dancer and which is followed by a Tango workshop open to all.
• Zoo Humans by The Urban Playground Team at Jubilee Square – a performance-parkour show presenting a Kafka-esque reality in which humans have forgotten how to move. Zoo Humans is inspired by the shocking fact that a third of the UK’s young people spend less time outdoors than its prisoners.
The performances and events that make up the Our City Dances programme have all been chosen by a steering group of people living and working in the Tarner community – the area in which The Dance Space is rising from the ground.
Emily James-Farley and Lauren Proto, who job-share the role of creative communities manager, have been working on delivering the Welcome Project, a way of making sure everyone knows what The Dance Space is when it opens next year. Our City Dances is a key part of the project.
“This is our second year for Our City Dances,” says Emily,” so we are still quite new, but it is part of the three-year build-up to the opening. The idea is to welcome The Dance Space but also to welcome in the community and the people around Brighton & Hove. Our vision for The Dance Space is that people will be coming in from just around the corner and will be crossing paths and meeting with experienced professional artists of national and international standing. It will be a real cross-pollination.
“We recognise that there is a lot of disruption in the area, and we know that not all people are engaged in dance and movement… but we do know that dance and movement are excellent for maintaining good mental and physical health. The idea is to engage people through dance so that they get to know us so that when we open the doors in 2020, The Dance Space won’t just be this bright and shiny and inaccessible place. It will be somewhere people think ‘Ah! Yes! I know them! I know South East Dance! I know what this is all about!”
Cath James, artistic director at South East Dance, says: “Our City Dances is our way of inviting the people of Brighton & Hove to take part in the kinds of dance we’ll be offering in The Dance Space well before its doors actually open. Perhaps now more than ever, dance is capturing people’s imaginations - thanks to increased awareness of its health benefits, its ability to bring people together and the simple joy that movement can bring. Whether you want to come and watch or get stuck in, we’d love to see you there!”
South East Dance is an arts charity committed to making life better through dance.
Cath added: “We challenge perceptions of what dance looks like: how it’s made, who it’s for and what it can achieve. We support dance artists, present bold new work, develop the infrastructure for dance and get more people across the south east involved in dance.
“In 2017/18 more than 203,000 people connected with our work – live and digitally. We presented 66 performances engaging live audiences of over 11,000 people; we supported the development of 430 artists from the UK and overseas; and we provided opportunities for over 9,000 individuals aged 0-94 to participate in our dance workshops and classes.”