Fault Lines
Picture: Dougie Evans

Dance & Circus Highlights: Explore our eclectic programme, from contemporary dance to spectacular outdoor circus

Dance, Dance

If you’re a fan of dance and circus, this year’s Festival won’t disappoint. To discover more about our triple bill of hip-hop inspired dance, large-scale feminist reimagining of seaside variety and breathtaking physical theatre from Australia and Italy, read on…

The circus comes to town                                                                                                                                                                 

Picture: Holly Revell

From 25-26 May, award-winning theatre maker Marisa Carnesky will transform Elder Place in downtown Brighton into a family friendly circus extravaganza, with nine stages and a huge cast of 33 female and non-binary aerialists, wrestlers, variety dancers, contemporary clowns and contortionists. 

Created especially for Brighton Festival, Carnesky’s Showwomxn Sideshow Spectacular celebrates the forgotten women of the variety show’s unique history, inspired by Carnesky’s own research at the National Fairground and Circus Archive. Performers include Netflix star Tallulah Haddon, World Record holding hula hoop artist Symoné and Bollywood dancer Kaajel. 


Everybody dance!

This year’s dance programme celebrates young, local and diverse creative voices.

On 11 May, local youth dance outfit Project Female present Triptych, a triple bill of contemporary dance using multimedia, technology and spoken word to explore themes impacting young people today. Featuring a guest performance from acclaimed UK hip-hop artists Boy Blue Young Artists, the show challenges perceptions and celebrates a new generation of dance. 

On the same day, Closer to my Dreams is a free, outdoor show from Chad Taylor, choreographer for Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson and X Factor and BRIT Awards dancer. The piece weaves together poetry, rap and Hip Hop to tell the story of two young, Black brothers who dream of becoming professional dancers, exploring family, friendship and the trials and tribulations of life. 

On 15 May, visually dynamic dance company Lîla Dance invites us to follow survivors of a scorched earth across changing landscapes in Fault Lines. Featuring striking digital illustrations and evocative music, the show explores the environmental damage we’ve inflicted and asks what happens when we stand together with hope. 


How do they do that? 

Picture: Tristan Still

High Performance Packing Tape (17-18 May), from celebrated Australian circus company Branch Nebula literally stretches the boundaries of what the human body and everyday materials are capable of. As a brave solo performer climbs, balances and hangs from stationery, cardboard and clingfilm, this mind-bending show will have you on the edge of your seat. 

Continuing the theme, The Sticky Dance on 7 May is a colourful and interactive show from disabled-led dance company Second Hand Dance, inviting children to explore and dance through a fun and colourful world of sticky tape.

Materia (23-24 May) is a strange, beautiful piece of physical theatre in which Italian performance artist Andrea Salustri shapes, manipulates and transforms polystyrene, creating a powerful visual symphony from this most basic material. It’s environmentally responsible too, as the artworks are made from the waste collected at the end of every performance and then composted for total sustainability. 

Picture: Jonas Danielevicius

Explore the full programme here