53rd Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance

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The Festival welcomed 7 International Dance Companies from Chile, Egypt, Tahiti, New Zealand, Ghana, Hungary and Taiwan to Billingham in August with audiences enjoying nine days of spectacular dance and music. Travelling from the far-flung corners of the world, troupes and groups entertained local residents and visitors too with world-class performances.

Alongside traditional and national dance, there were also contemporary dance performances by Kyrie Oda and Love Hellgren (Japan/Sweden), and the Joshua Monten Dance Company (Switzerland).

The town centre yet again was at the heart of the Festival, with the Festival Arena acting as a hub for daily events and for staging the opening and closing ceremonies, whilst the Bandstand hosted free daily lunchtime music concerts. The World Dance Gala Concert featuring all international dance companies took place at Billingham Forum Theatre on Friday, 18 August at 7.30pm, introduced by Ballet Tupa Marka from Chile , who presented this year’s Festival theme ‘On the Wings of a Dove’.

The Festival concluded with the world premiere of Swan Peacock Lake at the Billingham Forum Ice Arena, a collaboration between BIFF and Balbir Singh Dance Company, following on from last year’s sell-out dance and pool extravaganza, Synchronised. This spectacular ground-breaking show brought together, for the very first time, ice skating, contemporary, Indian Classical Kathak and traditional World dance, live music and a global cast of over 200 performers. Performed on ice to evocative live music and featuring 8 international stars of ice skating, including the World Professional Champion from Canada Gary Beacom, alongside a local and global cast of dancers and performers, Swan Peacock Lake received extremely complementary feedback from over 1200 audience, who attended the show over 2 days.

Running alongside the Festival were a range of activities and projects that involve our younger visitors and the local community. Throughout Festival week, over 100 children daily attended the ever popular Uncle BIFF Children’s Club. All the dance groups taking part in the Festival did a session with the Children’s Club, playing traditional games and teaching the children their dances. The International Youth Dance Workshops provided opportunities for young advanced dancers, as well as beginners, to experience first-hand a variety of dance styles based on traditional cultures from the different nations represented at the Festival.

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