2014 sees the 50th Anniversary of the Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance (BIFF). Each year, Billingham has linked its community to a global network through dance – the oldest form of personal expression. This colourful mixture of music, rhythm and culture overcomes political boundaries, and has helped forge Billingham’s distinctive place identity.
To commemorate this anniversary, BIFF have commissioned Mexican sculptor, Carmen Avalos, to create World United by Dance, a sculpture representing dance cultures from every continent. The sculpture will serve as both as an interpretation of the Billingham Festival legacy and identity, and provide a permanent focal point in the regeneration of Billingham Town Centre. The work will be installed at the base of an iconic landmark, ‘The Ramp’. This site will create multiple viewpoints of the sculpture for users of the spi- ral walkway, which links ground and top levels of the shopping centre. This spiral movement is reflected in the three-metre high bronze sculpture itself, with figures of dancers entwined in a spectacular upward movement.
Its creator, Carmen Avalos, is an internationally renowned sculptor with current exhibitions in Mexico, Switzerland and New York. Her work has been displayed in over 100 solo and group exhibitions world- wide, and her distinctive, contemporary vision has been recognized through cultural awards and highly acclaimed public commissions.
Avalos is also a performer with a background in traditional dance, having studied with the famous Mexi- can sculptor and choreographer, Rafael Zamarripa. She visited Billingham as a dancer and her knowledge of the town and its people inspired her to create the World United by Dance maquette for the BIFF com- mission, which will be displayed in Billingham during and after the 2014 Festival.
“Creating the sculpture for the 50th Anniversary of the Festival is one of the most exciting and wonderful projects I have had in my career as a sculptor”, says Avalos. “Since dance and singing are my roots, my love and my passion, which took me all over the world and brought me to Billingham, being approached to create a sculpture as important as World United by Dance is a great honour for me. My heart and my mind served as an inspi- ration to my hands to create this piece of art”.
The next stage of the World United by Dance project is to cast the full-sized sculpture in bronze.
Thanks to the generosity of our Festival supporters and an Arts Council England grant, BIFF have now secured 70% of the re- quired funding for the casting, but still need your help and gen- erosity to raise the remaining 30%.
We invite all those who love World Dance and Arts to support this unique sculpture project in Billingham.
You can donate as little as £5.
The name of any organisation, company or individual donating over £1000 will be commemorated on the sculpture pedestal.
If you would like to support this project, please send us your donations through Billingham Festival online shop: www.billinghamfestival.co.uk/store