Audio-description making dance performances more accessible

11 Feb 2020

Acosta Danza Evolution; Credit: Johan Persson

Dance Consortium presents Acosta Danza’s Evolution, produced by Sadler’s Wells and Valid Productions – UK tour spring 2020 from 3 March to 11 April. With audio-described performances at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (4 March), Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (14 March), Brighton Dome (18 March), The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (20&21 March), The Lowry, Salford Quays (25 March), Plymouth Theatre Royal (28 March) and Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (8 April)

As ballet superstar Carlos Acosta takes up the reins at Birmingham Royal Ballet, his critically-acclaimed company of Cuban dancers embarks on a ten-venue nationwide tour of its latest programme, Evolution, opening at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on 3 and 4 March. The tour includes seven audio-described performances for blind and visually-impaired patrons in Southampton, Bradford, Brighton, Canterbury, Salford, Plymouth and Newcastle. These are delivered for Dance Consortium by Sightlines Audio Description Services.

At each venue the audio description includes an optional pre-show touch tour at 6.30pm, live introductory notes and a full audio-description throughout the show. The touch tour enables blind and partially-sighted audience members to visit the stage, explore the set and touch some items of costumes, to gain a fuller picture of the style of the production.

Sightlines’ director Jonathan Nash says: “Sightlines is delighted to be working alongside Dance Consortium. Both organisations recognise that dance lovers wish to have the chance to attend audio described performances which go beyond the usual storytelling ballet and dance.”

Sightlines has prepared an MP3 audio-file as a trailer to download here

Sightlines Audio Description Services was formed by Jonathan Nash and Margaret Spittles in 1994 and over the last 25 years has audio-described over a thousand theatre performances, ranging from children’s theatre and pantomimes, musical theatre, through classic and modern drama, to ballet, contemporary dance and opera.

Evolution is presented by Dance Consortium, a 20-strong group of member theatres with a commitment to bring the best international contemporary dance to audiences across the UK, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

Acosta founded Acosta Danza in 2015 to, in his words, “create a company which didn’t look like any other company out there”, one which showcased Cuban performers and the vibrancy of Cuban culture. Acosta Danza is now widely acclaimed for an exciting repertoire of works by international and home-grown choreographers performed by a truly distinctive company of dancers with both personality and technique.

The Evolution programme includes two works created especially for Acosta Danza and two contemporary dance classics: Paysage, Soudain, la nuit by visionary Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg; Impronta by Barcelona-based Maria Rovira who choreographed the 2019 film Yuli which chronicled Acosta’s life and career; Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Faun, inspired by the Ballet Russes’ L’apres-midi d’un faune; and Rooster, Christopher Bruce’s celebration of the ‘60s and ‘70s set to music by the Rolling Stones, in which Acosta makes a guest appearance.