For those who might not be aware, Let’s Dance International Frontiers has a long standing tradition of launching the festival each year on 29 April, International Dance Day. International Dance Day was first introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Council (Conseil International de la Danse, CID) part of UNESCO. The day itself marks the anniversary of the birth of Jean-Georges Noverre, often credited as the creator of modern ballet, although all forms of dance are a cause for celebration on this day.
The intention of International Dance Day is to celebrate dance, promoting international exchange of knowledge and practice in dance, stimulate creation, breakdown barriers and increase public awareness and engagement in dance. Let’s Dance International Frontiers is linked with a network of global celebrations.
Let’s Dance International Frontiers has always held close to its heart the aim of bringing diversity to the forefront in dance in particular. So we decided to take a quick look back at our launch events from the last five years, and also tell you a little about what is in stall for International Dance Day 2016.
2011 marked the first festival, the launch on International Dance Day by young people Respect Company and introduced the main elements that would be the structure of LDIF, introducing Signatures, the conference and the importance of showcasing both emerging and established artists.
In 2012, LDIF had the honour of being an official Cultural Olympiad projects with a programme reflecting the rich diversity of Leicester and beyond. The launch event that year was due to take place outside, allowing large crowds to gather and enjoy the performance, however heavy rain saw a change of plan! Fortunately the Athena offered their space and 700 people were treated to an outstanding performance by local dance group Addict and an awe inspiring showcase from the world dance champions, and Britain’s Got Talent stars Flawless.
The following year, in 2013, LDIF celebrated International Dance Day with a big dance party. X Factor star Misha B, MOBO award winner Akala, and local DJs got the crowds moving whilst the Associació Capoeira Topázio BCN, BBoy Stix and the Roc Kidz Crew showed off their skills. Having so many different artists from all different backgrounds involved in this event set the tone for the rest of the festival, introducing audiences to new styles and perspectives and encouraging everyone to get moving!
2014 saw London dance crew Hypnotick team up with Carnival stalwarts Mahogany with a multi-art form spectacle; acrobatic street dance, carnival costumes, puppet creations and a good vs evil story! This family friendly occasion treated Leicester audiences to an innovative performance; we couldn’t sum it up the 2014 programme better than one audience member who said: “I think it’s wonderful to come to a dance event where all kinds of shapes and sizes, and variety of people, wonderful diversity… dance is for everyone isn’t it?”
Last year, in 2015, to mark LDIF’s fifth birthday we were treated to a specially commissioned work from New Orleans based dance and choreographer Maya Taylor. In the ornate setting of City Rooms, Maya performed ‘Under the Glass Bell’, an exploration of the journey following grief and the feelings of isolation, anger, heartbreak and acceptance, accompanied by an original score by Dustin Gledhill. The intimate occasion saw audience members of all ages stunned into silence by Maya’s haunting solo, and reminded us of how dance can often be used to express emotions where words can’t suffice.
So what’s in stall for 2016? This year we are thrilled to welcome back Catherine Dénécy, who some might remember from LDIF13 with her entrancing work Unpeubecoupalafoliepasdutout, borne of the real-life experiences of leaving Guadeloupe for the USA, whilst keeping true to one’s self, identity and heritage. On 29 April 2016, Catherine will return to the festival with her new work Mi-Chaud, Mi-Froid: on ne peut pas plaire á tout le monde (mid-hot, mid-cold: you can’t please everyone). Taking place in the historic New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, in the Victorian Salon, Catherine and her company of musicians will explore powerful women in French-Guadeloupean politics to the soundscape of Nina Simone, Tina Turner and others. The performance is not to be missed, and we hope you will join us to celebrate a day marking dance, diversity and collaboration.
Click here to book tickets for Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2016 launch: Mi-Chaud, Mi-Froid by Catherine Dénécy.