Dance Umbrella Announces Full Programme 9-31 October 2024

Dance Umbrella is delighted to announce the full 2024 festival programme taking place across London, and online, from 9 - 31 October.

11 June 2024


DU24 de Stilte, Eyecatchers, credit Loet Koreman

Dance Umbrella, London’s annual international contemporary dance festival, is delighted to announce the full 2024 festival programme taking place across London, and online, from 9 - 31 October.

Dance Umbrella’s co-CEO and Artistic Director Freddie Opoku-Addaie commented: ‘Dance Umbrella 2024 is our 46th Festival taking place across our global city, and 4th online as we continue to connect and grow with our national and international audiences. This year’s festival encapsulates themes of transformation, reflection and representation.

We dedicate it to Emma Gladstone, Dance Umbrella’s Artistic Director and CEO during 2014-20. Emma’s creative brilliance and ethical compass were always pioneering, whilst being aligned with a rapidly changing world.’


Opening the festival at the Barbican this year, South African choreographer Mamela Nyamza presents HATCHED ENSEMBLE, running in the Theatre and UK based performer and choreographer Hetain Patel presents Mathroo Basha playing in The Pit.

Internationally renowned choreographer Mamela Nyamza makes her Barbican debut, assembling 10 dancers, an opera singer and an African traditional multi-instrumentalist to perform the UK premiere of HATCHED ENSEMBLE, her urgent and subtly spectacular work. Clad in costumes covered in clothes pegs and balanced timidly en pointe while Camille Saint-Saens’ the Swan plays, the dancers challenge gender norms while juxtaposing

references to Western classical dance and music, with South African vocals. Mamela Nyamza has won many accolades for her activism-focused creations. HATCHED ENSEMBLE continues her work which unapologetically demystifies and deconstructs the history of dance, interrogating the accepted norms of the classics. HATCHED ENSEMBLE is presented by Dance Umbrella and Barbican, and supported by British Council, Cockayne Foundation and the Edwin Fox Foundation.

In his first appearance at the Barbican, acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker Hetain Patel returns to the stage with a preview performance of his latest solo Mathroo Basha (Mother Tongue in Gujarati). Following the passing of a number of first-generation immigrants in his family, British born Hetain reflects on what is lost and what is transformed, revisiting rituals rooted in his family’s working-class Brit-Gujarati experience.

Responding physically to the audio interviews of women from his family speaking in Gujarati about inheritance, loss and the future, Hetain delves into the emotional realities of generational change through personal movement explorations where his body becomes the conduit. London-based artist Hetain has shown films, paintings, sculptures, photographs and performance work in galleries, theatre and iconic public screens around the world. Mathroo Basha is presented by Dance Umbrella and Barbican, and supported by Cockayne Foundation and FABRIC International.

Dancer, choreographer, and acrobat Diana Niepce explores her recovery from a spinal cord injury, seeking new ways to integrate the disabled body into mainstream dance. In her solo piece The Other Side of Dance, which will be at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 16 & 17 October, Diana examines dance’s past and the principles driving movement, rigorously testing her body with minimal staging to present the non-normative body as revolutionary rather than victimised. Diana is joined on stage by three 'performer assistants' who support her through an intense journey of an alternative dance history. The performances will be followed by an extended post-show discussion with BSL on the 16th October.

Contemporary dance and physical theatre collective POCKETART’s latest work Fairy Tales, featuring eight female dancers and two musicians, comes to the UK for the first time. Exploring the intersection of femininity, identity and self-discovery, Fairy Tales aims to connect us to our past by revisiting childhood experiences. By taking on different roles from fairy tales or every day real-life figures, the dancers envision new fantasies that reimagine how we see our happy endings. POCKETART’s work is characterised by tackling topics that go beyond the personal experience if the individual, touching on global societal issues. With striking visuals, melodic sound and virtuosic dance performance, Fairy Tales invites us to playfully reconsider our own identities.

Change Tempo returns to Brixton House in 2024 to introduce London to two international artists whose transformational works blur the line between dance and visual art.

Sweden-based Adam Seid Tahir and Amina Seid Tahir draw inspiration from literature on Black feminism and marine mammals for their latest production – several attempts at braiding my way home, a show born out of longing for a space that celebrates and holds their multiplicities as queer Afro-Nordic siblings. Solo performer Adam begins the show by removing their braids and attaching them to a sculpture of a weave that is suspended at the back of the stage. Like real hair, the weave grows with each performance, storing memories and emotions, creating a timeline that carries the history of the piece. Set to a pulsating score, several attempts at braiding my way home is a meditation on how it feels to have a place in which to dream, and to truly call home.


Six performers take the stage with explosive energy in a genre-bending performance, named one of New York Times' Best Dance Performances of 2022. Radioactive Practice from award-winning American choreographer Abby Zbikowski blends street dance, synchronized swimming, post-modern dance, tap, football, martial arts, and African forms. The work challenges physical and mental limits while exploring our survival instincts.

Audience members are seated on multiple sides, enhancing the dynamic experience. Senegalese dance artist Momar Ndiaye contributes as dramaturge, highlighting the complexities of contemporary life. This marks the European premiere of Zbikowski's company, Abby Z and the New Utility.

October half term starts with a Dance Umbrella Family Weekend at Unicorn Theatre and Potters Field Park with performances, workshops and arts and crafts for the whole family to enjoy.

On Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October, you can experience the magic of de Stilte, renowned dance company from the Netherlands, who bring their thrilling new show for young children to the Unicorn and the UK for the very first time. Watch two captivating dancers and a musician embark on a wondrous journey, exploring the world through touch, sound, and movement. Their performance mirrors the awe and curiosity of a young child discovering their surroundings, creating a spellbinding experience for both kids and parents. Eyecatchers is an enchanting adventure, perfect for families with children aged 1 and above. Enjoy the show and stay for interactive playtime on stage, where the whole family can immerse themselves in this world of wonder!

Wander over to Potters Fields Park on Saturday 26 October for The Bobby Dazzler, Hackney Showroom’s touring stage on wheels. Pop on your dancing shoes for an afternoon of DJ’s, live cabaret acts, dance floor prizes and family fun!

Dance Umbrella will also be running fun-filled, family friendly dance workshops for early years children and their grown-ups at the Unicorn. Perfect for audiences of Eyecatchers, you’ll be led by a dance artist who will encourage you to explore movement, sound and play inspired by the show.


For the 2024 Festival, Dance Umbrella has produced and curated a selection of innovative dance films, a panel discussion and unique encounters with this year’s festival artists. If you can’t be there in person, this is a great way to experience the festival from wherever you are in the world.

The Digital Pass is Pay What You Can and will give viewers access to the entire digital programme within this year’s festival, available online to global and national audiences from 9 - 31 October.

Abby Z and the New Utility’s Radioactive Practice will make its much-anticipated UK premiere at this year’s Dance Umbrella Festival. For anyone unable to attend the live dates at Sadler’s Wells, we are offering a filmed version available with this year’s Digital Pass. Hurtling onto the stage with explosive physicality, six performers challenge their physical and mental limits in a genre-bending new work.

Drawing influences from street dance, synchronised swimming, post-modern dance, tap, football, martial arts and contemporary African forms; Radioactive Practice from

award-winning American choreographer Abby Zbikowski and crew, shatters movement expectations and explores our instincts for survival. This powerful piece was recontextualised from the stage for film by director Jeremy Jacob to interrogate the complexities of contemporary living.

British visual artist and filmmaker Hetain Patel created a series of animations during lockdown in 2020. Initially intended to loop infinitely as individual works, they are presented as part of the Dance Umbrella Festival as a single screen taster series for the first time. Reflecting on his approach to all his multidisciplinary practices, Hetain is interested in the specificity of each medium he uses – in this case, some explorations for the body that are only possibly through animation. A highly sought after artist, Hetain’s online performance work, including his 2013 Ted Talk, has been viewed over 50 million times. He recently joined the selection committee for the BAFTAs in 2023 and is currently working on a major project with Artangel.

Photographer and filmmaker Hugo Glendinning and choreographer Rosemary Lee's acclaimed short film, Sentence, explores the fleeting nature of dance through innovative animation techniques and slow shutter speed. Filmed in a former courtroom, dancer Lauren Potter’s movements blur in and out of the dark wooden panels, an effect created using only variations in shutter speed and the dancer’s actions which needed to be repeated for long periods of time to create short sequences. Crafted during the isolating period of lock down and accompanied by Isaac Lee-Kronick's haunting soundtrack, Sentence is both poetic and mysterious, and evokes a profound sense of longing.

Inspired by memories of the choreographer Johana Pocková’s grandmother, Folds of Touch by POCKETART follows four female dancers, an eight-year-old girl and a 90-year-old woman, as they perform on stage. Based on the production Warehouses Full of Emotions, the film is both a documentary of the play and a fictional depiction of the women’s lives in real time.

Dive into some of the most exciting minds in contemporary choreography. Now in its fifth year, this edition of Choreographer’s Cut features Ioanna Paraskevopoulou.

Using everyday objects: umbrellas, plungers, and of course, coconut shells, MOS, which had its UK premiere at the Barbican as part of Dance Umbrella 2023, evokes the sound effects made by expert foley artists for film and TV. The physical act of generating audio while following the film becomes energetic dance, with tap numbers turned into recordings that are looped, distorted, paused and intensified. Filmed on the set of MOS at the Barbican, in this Choreographer’s Cut Ioanna takes us behind the scenes to look at the inner workings of her innovative production, which was a sell-out success at last year’s festival.

Choreographer Lea Anderson discovered the work of Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele years ago when leafing through the Arnolfini bookshop. Taken by the possibility of seeing Schiele’s framing of repeated figures in the reproduction of his sketchbooks as a system for writing dance, she imagined Schiele as a choreographer whose dances had been lost in The Featherstonehaugh’s Draw on the Sketchbooks of Egon Schiele. Originally created in 1998 as a live work, it was remade as a film in 2010 in collaboration with Deborah May of Kinoki and with new music by Steve Blake and Will Saunders. The film has never been publicly aired and will be a world premiere for Dance Umbrella 2024.


Artist Encounters is an online professional development workshop with a guest artist, focusing on cultivating practical skills, sharing knowledge and asking questions that

resonate. This year, Lea Anderson will lead the session which will be live streamed with a small amount of tickets available in person at Trinity Laban.


Studio Sessions is a presenter programme, introducing dance artists based in England to promoters from the UK and abroad, with the ambition of brokering new relationships for international co-commissioning and future touring. Studio Sessions is a partnership between Dance Umbrella and FABRIC that has been running since 2018.

Four artists will be sharing works-in-progress and preview performances at this year’s Studio Sessions as part of Dance Umbrella 2024. Three of which are presented in partnership with The Place and one, Mathroo Basha by Hetain Patel, will be presented at The Pit, Barbican Pit.

A series of panel discussions will be announced in July.

Meanwhile, outside of the festival dates, returning for a second triumphant year, London Battle takes over Somerset House’s iconic open-air courtyard on 17 August with a day of dance and breaking showcases, workshops, live DJs and a big outdoor party, all culminating in a head-to-head dance battle between the four corners of London.

In November, Anthea Lewis of Blullili Projects will be guest international curator at Dance In Vancouver (Canadian West Coast Dance Platform), supported by Dance Umbrella and FABRIC International.

Dance Umbrella Festival audiences may have previously seen Marco da Silva’s ’s work førm inførms, part of Via Katlehong’s Via Injabulo, performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2023. His new work CARCAÇA, inspired by the rave scene and traditional Portuguese dance, with a cast of 10 performers is presented as a shortlisted entry to the inaugural Rose Prize at Sadler’s Wells on 1 and 2 February 2025..