A NORTH-EAST WORLD DANCE FESTIVAL REACHES LANDMARK HALF CENTURY – WHAT’S THE SECRET OF ITS LONGEVITY?
Over the past 50 years a lot has changed, world leaders have come and gone, tastes in fashion alter from season to season, music continues to ebb and flow with the times, and the fast pace of technology has meant that our lives can be lived online. But one thing that has stayed strong and true, is the way the people of Billingham continue to embrace and support its Folklore Festival.
In 2014, the Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance celebrates its 50th anniversary year [9-16 August] and the sleepy Tees Valley town is looking forward to welcoming performers from all over the globe including Chile, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, North Cyprus, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the UK.
Festival Director, Joe Maloney has been involved with helping to stage the annual spectacle for over four decades. Joe believes there’s one major contributing factor of the Festival’s longevity. Joe said: “The secret to the Festival’s success is that people believe in what we are trying to achieve, year upon year. The people of Billingham continue to keep the Festival close to their heart, which allows the foundations and roots to stay strong.”
Thousands of artistes and visitors have descended upon Billingham over the last 50 years – a place that economically has played a big part in supporting the global chemical industry. The Festival means a great deal to the dedicated local community groups, dance associations, business fraternity and the tourism sector.
Many festivals have fallen by the wayside for one reason or another but the Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance has durability and this year is no different. The passion and commitment shown by the Festival has been recognised by Arts Council England with a funding award of to the tune of £72,900 from the organisation’s Grants for the arts scheme.
The money has been awarded to particularly explore the contemporary dance element of the Festival programme; enabling BIFF 2014 to exclusively deliver shows, events, workshops, public art, residencies and fresh commissions.
The Festival also enjoys support from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The contemporary element of the Festival includes a fortnights residency in Latin American and Brazilian contemporary dance by ELEMENT ARTS COMPANY (UK / London) being delivered in schools across Middlesbrough with performances also to be staged in Billingham and Middlesbrough. Another aspect will see Newcastle-based National Touring Theatre company ZENDEH creating a series of “Poetry in Motion” pieces, portraying poems from all over the world through the actions of dance. ZENDEH will be working with young people and staff from Billingham South Community Primary School.
An exciting component of this year’s Festival will be a fascinating fusion of contemporary dance and sculpture when mima hosts ERHEBUNG by the acclaimed company, ATMA Dance. The Dance-Sculpture-Sonic-Art-Installation is a combination of new classical Indian dance and abstract sculpture.
The Festival has also spread its wings to ensure more people than ever experience this year’s amazing line-up. The festivities will be visiting Middlesbrough and Newcastle to deliver a variety of International treats.
Olga Maloney, Artistic Director for the Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance, said:
“Dance is something that transcends age, generation and culture and we are fortunate to be graced with some of the world’s leading practitioners this August. We are lucky to be able to share this wonderful event with so many people as the Festival grows in stature. The Festival is looking to both entertain and educate our audience and all of the many people who attend the workshops.”
People can buy their tickets on the website or in person as the Festival has a dedicated box office in Billingham Town Centre (address – 5 West Precinct) with the office being open Monday to Saturday, 10:30am until 2pm.