LEAP – Liverpool’s only annual festival of contemporary dance – shines a light on the city’s ‘invisible art form’ as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations this year. The festival, run by Hope Street-based dance organisation MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative), begins a programme it describes as its “most bold and ambitious to date” from March 1 through to 12, taking place in its own ‘pop up dance house’ as well as other regional venues including Edge Hill Arts Centre.
The pop up will be housed in the north Dockside warehouse of Make Liverpool; a taste of what might be to come as part of MDI’s wider ambition to establish a dedicated performance space for dance in the city.
LEAP 2017 explores the theme of Camouflage – Seen and Unseen. They say: “As dance means so much to so many people, the festival examines dance as the invisible art form of the city, to shine a light on dance in Liverpool. Each performance questions individual and collective identity, misconceptions and the untold stories in diversity.”
A successful Kickstarter campaign last year raised £5,175 to support the creation of a dedicated dance house. MDI is now working with Make Liverpool to refit their versatile warehouse to create a fully accessible performance space and festival hub with full catering facilities, bar and exhibition spaces.
Karen Gallagher MBE, artistic director of MDI explained: “LEAP 2017 is a celebration of 25 years of dance in Liverpool and we are as passionate as ever about the ‘coming of age of dance’ in the city. We are seeing dance reach a wider audience then ever before, and LEAP as always will produce inspirational and challenging productions. We are excited to take over Make Liverpool, creating a pop-up dance house – a first for the city.”
The festival line-up of national and internationally renowned dancers and choreographers includes performances from the award-winning dancer and choreographer Gary Clarke, Glasgow based dance theatre company Barrowland Ballet, and Hetain Patel, who will be performing his critically acclaimed American Man, which premiered at Sadler’s Wells last November.
Gary Clarke, choreographer and dancer said: “To start of our 2017 touring season by bringing COAL to LEAP Festival is just a sheer delight. COAL is a direct response to my upbringing in the working class mining village of Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, the time when communities were being torn apart as they fought for their future against the policies of Mrs Thatcher and the Conservative Party. I feel confident that a city as politically and socially aware as Liverpool will take COAL to its heart and give us the greatest start to our touring year.”
The festival will also offer a host of pro-masterclasses for aspiring dancers, workshops from national companies such as StopGap, and a community-focused day.