Contemporary dance comes of age this year on Merseyside, as the LEAP festival marks an amazing 21 years. Since bursting on to the scene, it has introduced city audiences to some of the most ground-breaking and entertaining dance in the world, including names like Akram Khan and Matthew Bourne.
Organisers Merseyside Dance Initiative (MDI), working with partner venues in the Merseyside Dance Promoters Network, say they promise a programme of similar quality and freshness at this year’s festival, which runs from March 1 to 16.
MDI director Karen Gallagher MBE says the line-up is “one of the most diverse and interesting yet, with styles ranging from gritty urban to elegant classical, and with children’s dance and comedy in the mix”.
Performances include an EU triple bill at the Capstone Theatre on March 8, featuring work by some of Europe’s most innovative dance makers including Liz Roche from Ireland, Arno Schuitemaker from the Netherlands and Italy’s Aline Nari.
MDI has commissioned Liverpool dance company taciturn to produce a new piece, Femme, which will be performed at the Capstone on March 6 in a double bill with Yorkshire artist Lucy Suggate’s solo work Liquid Gold and the Macabre Bonedust.
Festival favourites Phoenix Dance Theatre appear at the Playhouse for two nights on March 12 and 13 with Particle Velocity, featuring an ensemble piece by celebrated choreographer Richard Alston to Ravel’s moving Sonata for Violin and Cello.
On the same nights the Unity Theatre presents The Kosh with their high-energy mix of physical comedy, theatre, dance and music with bizarre storytelling, Café Chaos (pictured, top).
On Comic Relief Day (March 15) at the Bluecoat, MDI presents New Art Club, two contemporary dancers who discovered a talent for stand up comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe and now combine the two. Wait, what…?
Younger dance fans will enjoy Northern Ballet’s Ugly Duckling at the Playhouse on March 8, while on Saturday March 16 New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion hosts MDI’s family dance day, with free workshops, performances and activities for everyone.
As well as watching performances, there will be opportunities for people to get involved in other ways. MDI will be hosting ballet and Latin dance days at their studio on Hope Street, there will be a debate about female choreographers at FACT, and the Black-E will be hosting a roadshow about black British dancers featuring screenings, talks and workshops.
Full details of the festival programme and booking links are online at mdi.org.uk.