Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

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VIDEO: Choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard talks about This Bright Field

Brighton-based choreographer and designer Theo Clinkard spoke to Vámonos creative agency about dance, design and his new show This Bright Field which has its world premiere at Brighton Festival on 25 May.

'It's important to me as a contemporary artist to not be making work within an arts bubble, but to be responding to the world that we are living in, and this is a time of massive change. With the new work there's been something for me about not taking for granted some of our basic human rights'


In Pictures: Brighton Festival 2016

The 50th Brighton Festival is almost over, so we're taking a look back at the pictures from some of the shows and events we've loved the most. 

Picking out these images put a grin on our faces, and we hope it makes you smile too! 

Why not have a look through some more photos from this year's festival and re-live something special?

Photo credits: Victor Frankowski, Adam Weatherley, John Hunter

Festival Hot Seat... Antahkarna

Gauri Sharma Tripathi is the acclaimed Indian choreographer bringing Antahkarna and the free outdoor dance show Bodyline to Brighton Festival. In this Festival Hot Seat she tells us about the shows and the traditional Kathak form of dance.

Can you tell us what your show is about?

The tradition of storytelling is rediscovered through the Kathak vocabulary in Antahkarna. The piece probes the questioning voices of the past and present, vacillating between the sensuous, the spiritual, stillness and the nomadic.

The expression of love and devotion, from flesh and blood to the abstract presence of the almighty, is present in Vyom. In Timelapse we see a dialogue between the body and the soul, until all dissolves and what remains is dance. Throughout, contrasting attitudes of harmony and discordance are communicated through the various tones of Kathak.

The three episodes, Vyom, Vyuha and Timelapse, permeate into the realms of our innermost core by embarking on an adventurous inner journey — a journey that begins with innovation, expressions and improvisations.

‘Katha Kahe So Kathik Kahai’ He who tells a story is a Kathak.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

Kathak is the major classical dance form of northern India. It is derived from the dance dramas of ancient India — ‘Kathak’ means ‘to tell a story’. When patronage shifted from the temples to the royal courts, the emphasis shifted from the telling of religious stories to entertainment. Today, the story-telling aspect of Kathak is usually of secondary importance; the dance is primarily an abstract exploration of rhythm and movement.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

In the words of Martha Graham, ‘dance is the hidden language of the soul’. For me, dance is where happiness comes from. All trials and tribulations are knotted together; thus we need the constant unearthing of ourselves to grow, finding a fleeting moment when we feel elated and alive.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

The versatility, heritage, and reachability of the Kathak form communicates to one and all. Let’s celebrate dance and the festivities together.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

The excitement of being part of history being made, with 50 years of the Brighton festival itself is a landmark moment. I am really happy to be participating with a traditional Kathak solo, and my favourite being Bodyline performed on the 25th as well. You see the myriad dimensions in which the Kathak dance vocabulary transforms the proscenium space to the outdoor crossroads for Bodyline.

Find out more about Bodyline and Antahkarna

In Pictures: Three Score Dance - Tall Tales

To celebrate the 50th Brighton Festival, Three Score Dance brought together 50 dancers aged over 50 to perform a very special dance piece on the beach. 

On a gloriously sunny day, crowds gathered on West Pier Beach to see Tall Tales, a specially commissioned piece choreographed by Lea Anderson drawing upon the history of Brighton Festival over five decades.

Enjoy these photos of the event! 

Photo credit Vic Frankowski

In Pictures: Week 1

Brighton Festival 2016 kicked off in grand sunny style with the Children's Parade (click to see more photos) on Saturday, and we've been celebrating since then! 

Here are a few photos from the first week, from the touching Portraits in Motion to a very special canine concert in Music For Dogs. 

Photos by Vic Frankowski, Tom Oldham, John Hunter and Adam Weatherley. 

Watch Again - Brighton Festival Live: Smoke and Mirrors

Circus as you’ve never seen it before: audacious and thought-provoking, technically brilliant and profound. The Ricochet Project is pushing the boundaries of contemporary circus using poetic acrobatics, contemporary dance, contortion and high-flying feats to explore the human condition. Revealing the inner workings of the mind and our search to find a place of realness and connection in an enduring culture of illusion, Smoke and Mirrors is a mesmerising and intimate two-hander for grown-ups.

Caution: contains strobe lighting and partial nudity


If you enjoy this live stream, then you might be interested in some of the events still coming up at Brighton Festival:

Belonging(s)
Thoughts of migration, belonging and the fleeting nature of what surrounds us are subtly provoked by this site-responsive promenade piece, which combines contemporary dance, physical theatre and an unusual use of objects and locality.

Clairière Urbaine
French company Retouramont creates an opening in the dense sprawl of the city – a ‘clairière urbaine’, or urban clearing – for this free outdoor dance performance. Finding outlets for its expressive aerial choreography in the bustle of city streets, its dancers integrate into the architecture and populate the empty spaces between the buildings, monuments and thoroughfares of the urban jungle.

Correction
Imagine a world where you can’t progress despite your best efforts to push forward. Multi-awardwinning Czech company VerTeDance presents a beautifully poignant dance piece about our lack of freedom and our power to make decisions.

Dance company brings together 50 dancers aged 50+ for outdoor performance celebrating 50th Brighton Festival

Three Score Dance will present new work Tall Tales celebrating the 50th Brighton Festival in May 2016, featuring 50 dancers aged 50 and over.

Commissioned by Brighton Festival, Tall Tales is choreographed by renowned choreographer Lea Anderson, with audio guide (available to download in advance from the Brighton Festival website) by Steve Blake and design by Tim Spooner.

Tall Tales will be performed on Sunday 8 May, 4pm and 5.30pm, on West Pier Beach, and draws upon the history of Brighton Festival over five decades.

It follows their hugely successful performance of Plans (choreographed by James Finnemore, with music by Joel Harries and commissioned by Hofesh Shechter for the 2014 Brighton Festival).

Choreographer Lea Anderson says, ‘When Three Score Dance invited me to come and work with them, I thought it was a great opportunity to work with a group of people who are impassioned about making work and who have had a lot of experience of life. I knew they would not bat an eyelid when asked to recreate paintings on the beach by the West Pier. I have been using art works, (in this instance artworks by German painter, Oscar Schlemmer), artist’s sketchbooks and feature films as scores to create dance performance now for many years, as well as working with composer Steve Blake who has recorded odd stories from their past for a soundtrack, and designer/performer Tim Spooner who has provided the objects required for the reconstruction. The piece will ostensibly attempt to celebrate some of the historical performances from the 50 years of the festival but the efforts may well become scuppered by the tangential musings and procrastination of the performers.’

Sound design is by Steve Blake, costume design by Tim Spooner, rehearsal director is Jason Keenan-Smith, and project manager Faith Dodkins. Tall Tales is performed by Three Score Dance company members and class attendees.

Festival Hot Seat... Slap and Tickle

We catch up with Liz Aggiss, the 'unclassifiable' performance artist behind Slap and Tickle 

Can you tell us what your show is about?

As the title suggests it’s a show of opposites; slap and tickle, punishment reward, push and pull……..all the way home. It’s about inconsistencies, propaganda, interpretations, mythologies, platitudes and expectations on, and of, girls, ladies, women, mummies, mothers, grannies, pensioners and senior citizens. It’s about using performance as a means to create a discussion, a dialogue about the observed and received cultural mores, forays and sexual taboos.

How and where will it be staged?

Slap and Tickle is presented in three fast moving acts, using a visual and aural collage of movement, text, props, costumes (Holly Murray), sound (Joe Murray) and cover versions (Alan Boorman/Wevie). The performances take place in the intimate black box Studio Theatre space on Thursday 19th May at 8 pm, and Friday 20th May at 7pm and 9.30 pm.

Why should someone come and see your show?

Because for the past 40 years I have been re(de)fining my own brand of British contemporary dance performance, dodging categorization and being classified as unclassifiable. Because there are limited opportunities to see live work. Because if you don’t come to see the work in Brighton the next chance will be London, then, Tasmania, India, Norwich, Bournemouth, Scotland and I can’t guarantee it will return to Brighton in the near future. No contest! Because I invite the audience to ‘…..have a party’ and then confound their expectations of what this party might be. Because I make, funny, accessible, empowering and thoughtful work. Because what are you waiting for? Permission? Because it’s granted!

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

I was born on Nanny Goats Common, Dagenham, Essex, a post war baby, into a repressive era in the suburbs, where parents were truly in charge and children were seen and not heard. I never had a clue who I was, or what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to be seen and heard. I come from a pre televisual age, a world of radio drama, Mrs. Mills, post music hall variety acts, cor blimey and oooer missus, that opened the dark tabernacle into the soul of early feminism. It is this personal history when placed alongside feminist politics that compels me to create a context in which to scratch that particular itch. Slap and Tickle is that itch.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Bring an open mind and no preconceptions as to what you think a mature, ageing, post menopausal, solo, female, dancing body should be doing, why she should be doing it, and where it should be done, and you should be just fine. There are no limits except for those under 15 on account of the strong language. Not my call!

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The pace, the speed, the unpredictability, the roller coaster ride.

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?

Flexing my performance muscle and presenting Slap and Tickle in three consecutive performances. Apart from that taking a punt on unknown and new discoveries in unexplored locations, whilst soaking up Brighton and the festival atmosphere.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

I’ve lived in Brighton since 1975. I’m still here, still making, still performing, still touring, nationally and internationally, still in the picture……… though not so still, I can’t stop moving! Must be the sea air.

Book now for Slap and Tickle

Festival Hot Seat... Clairière Urbaine

We caught up with Retouramont to find out more about their UK premiere Clairière Urbaine

Why should someone come and see your show?

The show - and more broadly the artistic work of the company Retouramont - offers new perspectives on the city. It doesn’t consider walls as limits but rather as openings and opportunities - and a means to invent new choreography. In our shows we aim to shift perspectives and invite the audience to discover their neighbourhood in a very new way.

How and where will it be staged?

It will be staged in Lavender Street. Some anchoring will be made on two buildings so the dance can evolve on the wall of one of them and in-between, in the air and over the audience.

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It came from the desire to go beyond, but not in the usual sense. As a climber, cliffs or boulders are limits you want to go over. I like when this movement can also be inventive and aesthetic. In the city, I find this desire for crossing and going over particularly joyful and creative.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

Everyone can enjoy this aerial and acrobatic dance show that grabs the city in all its dimensions. We do not try to impose any story on the audience - each person can create their own story. This is our way of inviting the audience to feel and accept a shift of perceptions and take a new look at their surroundings.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

We propose a different and new use of the city that no one has seen before, not even the architects or inhabitants of the neighbourhood. They may look up for the first time and see buildings differently from now on.

Have you visited Brighton before? What were/are your impressions of the city?

This is my first time in Brighton - I'm curious to discover it.

This year marks 50 years of Brighton Festival. What does it mean for you to be part of the festival in this milestone year?

It’s great to see such longevity in a festival of art, vertical dance is about 25 years old. In this sense, I find it very interesting to question and analyse our practices in the long-term: how did street arts emerge? What is their social role? etc.

Head this way for more info on free event Clairière Urbaine.

The Brighton Commissions

For our milestone 50th Festival, we have commissioned more new works than ever before, including many by Brighton artists or about Brighton itself. Wildly different and each fascinating, the 'Brighton Commissions' below are presented as a tribute to our home and the talent within it.

Brighton: Symphony of a City
One of the Brighton Festival events people still talk about is the screening of Battleship Potemkin (2005) with Ed Hughes’s new score in the Hove Engineerium. When Ed and Brighton based filmmaker Lizzie Thynne proposed a Brighton homage to Walther Ruttmann’s 1927 silent classic Berlin: Symphony of a Great City, we grabbed the opportunity to celebrate Brighton in all its festive, bohemian, campaigning, fun-filled glory.

Charles Linehan Company
Loved by dancers and dance audiences, Brighton-based choreographer Charles Linehan (The Fault Index/ The Clearing, 2011), brings us a contrasting double bill of new works including one with William Trevitt and Michael Nunn (BalletBoyz). Described by The Guardian as ’one of our classiest choreographers’ Charles’s return to Brighton Festival in our 50th year feels especially appropriate. 

The Complete Deaths
Another match made in Brighton. Leading physical comedy company Spymonkey (Oedipussy, 2012 and Cooped, 2006) and award winning playwright and performer Tim Crouch (I, Caliban, 2003, I, Peaseblossom, 2004, I, Banquo, 2005, An Oak Tree 2006, I, Malvolio, 2010 and what happens to the hope at the end of the evening, 2014) come together to re-enact every onstage death from the works of William Shakespeare in a sublimely funny tribute to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. We’re holding onto our hats. 

Digging for Shakespeare
Marc Rees studied in Brighton with Liz Aggiss and has gone on to make wonderful work with communities and for specific sites, most notably with National Theatre Wales. He brought us the captivating story of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps who was a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar in the 19th Century and an eccentric recluse. When Marc suggested making this piece on the Roedale allotments where Halliwell-Phillipps lived it was too beguiling an idea to pass up. 

Dr Blighty
One of the most affecting and complex stories of the Royal Pavilion Estate is its use as a military hospital for wounded Indian soldiers in World War I. As we work towards reunifying the Royal Pavilion Estate to bring collections, heritage and the arts together to create compelling new work for the Estate, the opportunity was ripe for Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and ourselves to work with British Asian performance company Nutkhut and with 14-18 NOW to commemorate this special chapter in Brighton’s history.

The Last Resort
Using binaural technology to create a shifting world of sound, Brighton-based artists Rachel Champion and Tristan Shorr (who worked with Charlotte Spencer on Walking Stories, 2013), working as Art Of Disappearing, have created an immersive work set on Portslade beach that takes a wry look at science fiction traditions and dystopian societies. 

Operation Black Antler
Two Brighton Festival Associate Companies come together in an exciting new collaboration. Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, 2008; Fixing Point 2013) are celebrated for their inventive use of technology and their thought-provoking subject matter. Hydrocracker have delighted and terrified audiences with Shakespeare á la Carte (2008), the uproarious The Erpingham Camp (2009), and the chilling production of Pinter plays The New World Order (2007 & 2011). Having these two companies working together has been on all our wish lists for a number of years. 

Stella
Veteran Brighton artist Neil Bartlett (Oliver Twist, 2004, The Maids, 2007; For Alfonso, 2011; What Can You Do?, 2012; Britten: The Canticles, 2013) is one of Britain’s most individual theatre makers and a generous friend of Brighton Festival. We’re honoured that Neil’s wonderful, intense and distilled new play, inspired by the life and death of Ernest Boulton, can open in Theatre Royal Brighton before going on to performances at London International Festival of Theatre and Holland Festival.