A new year of rural dance: An eclectic mix of shows to visit village venues this Spring

8 Feb 2019

Rural Touring Dance Initiative kicks off 2019 with a programme of eight works from leading dance companies comprising new shows and returning favourites.

  • Uchenna Dance: Hansel and Gretel 1 Feb – 17 Mar
  • Lost Dog: Juliet and Romeo – A Guide to Long Life and Happy Marriage 8 Feb – 9 Mar
  • Shane Shambhu: Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer 15 Feb – 20 Mar
  • Joan Clevillé Dance: The North 23 Feb – 30 Mar & 29 May
  • Lîla Dance: The Hotel Experience 27 Feb – 8 Mar
  • Corali: Technicolour Everyday 13 Mar – 6 Apr
  • James Wilton Dance: Leviathan 5 – 6 Apr
  • Phoenix Dance Theatre: four extracts, including Windrush 4 – 7 Jun

As 2019 gets underway, the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) will tour a fresh selection of shows created by dance companies whose work has been enjoyed on both national and international stages and can now be seen in to village halls and rural venues across the UK. Shows are offered in the form of ‘menus’ so local promoters are able to select the work that best suits their venue. This year’s menu will bring an eclectic mix of dance adaptations of classic novels, fairytales and Shakespeare, Northern adventures and Windrush stories to an ever-growing audience who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see them. The initiative is a partnership between the National Rural Touring Forum, The Place, China Plate and Take Art.

Among the new shows on offer, acclaimed touring company Phoenix Dance Theatre will present a programme of extracts from the company’s recent repertoire including Windrush, a lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain choreographed by artistic Director Sharon Watson. The show brings to life the spirit, history and heritage of British Caribbean culture whilst continuing the conversation around the government’s response to last year’s scandal. Accompanying it will be Calyx by company dancer Sandrine Monin and composer Roberto Rusconi, inspired by the poems of renowned French poet Charles Baudelaire, plus two other short works adapted from the repertoire for rural touring.

Commissioned by the Rural Touring Dance initiative, DanceEast, Strike a light and The Place, Hansel & Gretel is a new show for families from Uchenna Dance. Two superhero guides find themselves in a new country, where they must outwit the adults to find their way home. Choreographer Vicki Igbokwe tells the classic tale with influences from House, Waacking, Vogue, African and contemporary dance.

Darkly humorous with touches of magical realism, The North blends dance, physical theatre and puppetry with cinematic visual and sound design to tell the story of John, a young man who finds himself lost in the northern wilderness with only two eccentric northerners for company. Joan Clevillé Dance return to the rural touring circuit after the success of Plan B for Utopia which toured with the RTDI last year.

Corali, one of the leading companies creating work by artists with learning disabilities will present the joyful Technicolour Everyday.  Using collaborative practice, the company will explore the technicolor optimism of post war film-musicals with personal imagined landscapes.

After winning the 2017 Rural Touring Award for the most innovative and inspirational show for their previous show, Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me) Ben Duke’s Lost Dog return with Juliet and Romeo – A Guide to Long Life and Happy Marriage, which imagines Shakespeare’s infamous lovers as middle-aged and in therapy. Through its playful blend of dance, theatre and comedy, Lost Dog picks apart out cultural obsession with youth and our inability to accept uncomfortable truths.

Embracing the sea and its secrets is Leviathan, multi award-winning choreographer James Wilton’s re-imagining of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and the elusive beast at its heart, which incorporates athletic dance, martial arts and capoeira, all under-scored by a powerful electro-rock soundtrack from Lunatic Soul.

All is not what it seems in Lîla Dance’s Hotel Experience, where the ordinary and extraordinary stories of its guests are unpacked in a high energy, physically enthralling dance theatre show. Audience members will star alongside four dancers as memories that were seemingly forgotten are brought back to reality, with an exciting moving set.

And returning to the rural touring circuit after Autumn touring dates, Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer sees Complicité Associate Shane Shambhu reflects on his personal journey of growing up in east London, learning and performing Indian dance in the UK, and plays with the ways in which race, language, identity and culture have defined him.

Speaking about the forthcoming season RTDI Project Manager Claire Smith saidThe Rural Touring Dance Initiative is really building momentum with a huge percentage of shows last season selling out as audiences are thrilled to see dance in intimate spaces and companies get more excited about touring rurally. The prodcutions on offer really showcase the very best of current contemporary dance practice – just adapted for smaller spaces. With over 40 shows this season all over the country there is huge diversity on offer.”

In 2015 The National Rural Touring Forum joined forces with The Place, China Plate and Take Art to launch a brand-new initiative designed to assist in the making and touring of contemporary accessible dance to rural areas. The project was set up to address the paucity of dance performance happening in rural areas in smaller community venues.  The project has been made possible by a grant from Arts Council England’s Lottery funded Strategic Touring Programme. Due to RTDI successes in November 2017 the project was given a further £417k to develop the project until July 2021. Over 160 performances have taken place to date along with numerous workshops and training opportunities for artists.