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Big Dance Theater’s 17c (Photo: Johanna Austin) for Dance Umbrella

Big Dance Theater's 17c (Photo: Johanna Austin) for Dance Umbrella

Dance Umbrella 2018 programme announced

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson First Published 1 May 2018, Last Updated 1 May 2018

Dance Umbrella, London’s flagship festival of international dance, celebrates its 40th anniversary this autumn, and has announced its full 2018 programme today.

Taking place from 26 September – 21 October 2018, this year’s Dance Umbrella encompasses a multitude of performances, discussion and events.

Dance Umbrella 2018 opens with Big Dance Theater’s UK debut at The Old Vic with 17c (Wednesday 26 – Saturday 29 September), a romp through the bracingly frank diaries of Samuel Pepys co-directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar. In the piece, Big Dance Theater layers movement, text, music and video into a century-spanning work that reveals the Baroque hipster’s compulsions as a startling precursor to our own social media-obsessed times.

Another highlight of the programme sees the Olivier Award-nominated Colin Dunne takes on the ‘undanceable’ music of the enigmatic Tommie Potts in Concert (Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 October) at The Pit, Barbican Centre. Dunne enters into a creative dialogue with The Liffey Banks (1972), a rhythmically deviant, melodically resplendent album that presents a singular challenge to Irish dance’s most celebrated contemporary artist, who in turn responds physically and percussively to Potts’ irregular, richly textured tunes.

Dimitris Papaioannou will also make his debut at Sadler’s Wells as he returns to Dance Umbrella with an enigmatic exploration of life in the internationally acclaimed The Great Tamer (Tuesday 16 – Wednesday 17 October). Papaioannou first attracted recognition for directing the ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics, and his work spans theatre, dance and film. In The Great Tamer, he pays homage to the Old Masters by drawing on his roots in the fine arts, his Greek heritage and the history of humankind, creating a witty and surreal feast of visual delights.

Dimitris Papaioannou in The Great Tamer (Photo: Julian Mommert) for Dance UmbrellaDimitris Papaioannou in The Great Tamer (Photo: Julian Mommert) for Dance Umbrella

Audiences can also look forward to dance and theatre dramaturg Ruth Little speaking at the National Theatre as part of the Dance Umbrella Lecture series, followed by a Q&A led by Royal Court Artistic Director Vicky Featherstone, on Tuesday 2 October at 5.30pm.

Other highlights of the season include works by Sasha Milavic Davies, Freddie Opoku-Addaie, Ivan Blackstock, Wen Hui and Dutch company Dadodans. The programme trailer can be seen below.


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Emma Gladstone, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dance Umbrella, said of the programme: “World class, international artists from twelve countries are heading our way this year in a programme of unpredictable variety and celebration of dance like no other.”

Full programme listings, and more information and tickets, are available through the Dance Umbrella website.


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