FEATURED: Birmingham becomes a key city in France Dance UK celebrations

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This October, Birmingham Hippodrome will join forces with Institut francais du Royaume-Uni, DanceXchange and ACE dance and music, as Birmingham becomes one of the host cities for FranceDance UK; a UK wide festival of contemporary dance.

FranceDance UK runs from Monday 21 October to Friday 25 October and will bring top French contemporary dance to ten cities The Birmingham programme features young and exciting artists whose work is relevant to the city, many of whom are visiting the UK for the first time.

Chris Sudworth, Birmingham Hippodrome’s Director of Artistic Programme, said: “France Dance brings a range of fantastic dancers and choreographers to Birmingham and the UK for the first time. Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, one of the most diverse in the UK and the biggest dance hub outside of London.

“Birmingham’s France Dance programme has been hand-picked to resonate with our city, combining dynamic and playful hip hop inspired performances, with amazing opportunities for artists and communities to exchange skills and experiences with French counterparts; and build new relationships for the future.”

The initiative, which has internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and future Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Carlos Acosta as its Honorary Patron, aims to strengthen Franco-British relationships and encourage cultural collaboration.

A highlight of the Birmingham programme is set to be the UK premiere of Emanuel Gat’s YOOO!!! at Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio (23 & 24 October, 7pm). A dynamic new hip-hop and street dance infused piece for all ages from one of France’s most celebrated choreographers and Associate

Artist at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris. YOOO!!! features top quality popping, locking, freestyle and commercial dancers and incorporates interactive elements, encouraging the audience to raise the decibels as the soundtrack builds, filling the dancers’ bodies with percussion, bass and electronic waves.

Artistic Director of Compagnie Grenade, Josette Baïz and Lead Artist, Magali Fouque will host a professional class at DanceXchange Studios (24 October, 10am). Working from a contemporary technical base, Josette Baïz draws inspiration from her collaborators. Her work is developed using gestures, floor work and developing the dancer’s range of movement, stretching and releasing tension. The workshop will also use improvisation techniques to unlock each dancer’s creativity.

Suitable for dancers, artists, practitioners and teachers, the second part of the masterclass will focus on the dance practice of Compagnie Grenade (24 Oct, 11.45am). This training session will begin with some background and group discussion and then move into a practical session, sharing techniques, tools and tips on how the Baïz company work and create with young people.

Birmingham Hippodrome, DanceXchange and Theatre National de Chaillot (Paris) have also joined forces to offer an exchange opportunity to UK and French artists to research new choreographic ideas, develop and showcase new work in a process inspired by the Fabrique Chaillot programme. Compagnie Black Sheep (France) will be resident in Birmingham during the France Dance programme in October 2019 and again in June 2020 for Birmingham International Dance Festival. Mickael Marso Riviere (Birmingham, UK) will be resident in Paris in November & December 2019.

Members of the public are invited to join Compagnie Black Sheep in the DanceXchange Studios on Level 5 of Birmingham Hippodrome (23 October, 3-5pm) for free drop-in opportunity to see the company’s research for their new piece Earthbound in practice.

For more information about FranceDance UK, visit: www.institut-francais.org.uk/francedanceuk.

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