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Khan's Kaash at Sadler's Wells, image by Louis Fernandez

Preview: Dance in 2016

24 January 2016 Alice Westoby

The essential guide to dance festivals, performances and venues in 2016, including the Big Dance, Dance Umbrella, and new productions at the Roundhouse and Sadler's Wells.

It’s a big year for dance, quite literally in fact, as 2016 sees the return of Mayor of London-backed biennial event the Big Dance. The event takes place throughout the year and across the capital, centred on the events of Big Dance Week during 2 - 10 July. This is when the majority of the action will happen, including a touring Big Dance Bus. There’s no shortage of inspiration to get involved in dance-related activity this year, especially as a result of 2016’s Big Dance pledge by Akram Khan. This has enabled free access to resources and choreography specially created by Khan and composer Nitin Sawhney around the themes of ‘overcoming adversity’ and ‘achievement’.

Alongside his Big Dance involvement, Khan will be offering a whole host of contributions to the dance world this year, kicking off this January with his latest work Until the Lions at the Roundhouse. In March, Sadler’s Wells will also play host to a revival of Kaash, Khan’s first full-length work  premiered in 2002. If that’s not enough, his work for children Chotto Desh (adapted from 2011’s Desh) has been chosen as part of London Borough of Newham’s Every Child A Theatre Goer scheme, enabling it to be watched by 4,500 school children from 67 primary schools across the borough in January – a promising start to what is set to be an exciting year for dance.

Other big names bringing work to Sadler’s Wells this year are Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal, bringing her work „…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si…“ (Like moss on a stone). This is the pioneering choreographer’s last work completed before her untimely death in 2009 and will be performed this February by her 21 strong company. Another renowned company with a female choreographer at the helm is Belgian Ann Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas. Inspired by As You Like It, they will be performing the UK Premiere of Golden Hours at Sadler’s Wells in March, which replaces Shakespeare’s dialogue with dance.

As well as famous choreographers, the dance calendar wouldn’t be complete without its fair share of platforms for up-and-coming choreographers. As always, the year has begun with The Place’s Resolution festival. This year in its 27th edition, it will show the work of 78 dance companies before it comes to a close in February. This is always worth attending: this festival was once the starting point for choreographic giants such as Luca Silvestrini, Hofesh Shechter and Wayne McGregor.

Festivals are always a staple in the dance calendar, particularly annual ones such as Dance Umbrella and the Sadler’s Wells Flamenco Festival. However, in similar fashion to the return of the Big Dance, biennial festival LIFT will be returning to stages across the capital this June. Despite being called the London International Festival of Theatre, there are always smatterings of dance on the programme, and with their recent involvement with of Dance Umbrella-programmed Of Riders and Running Horses by Dan Canham last October, the dance prospects have been set high for this year’s festival.

Looking back, 2015 was a fantastic year for dance. It saw some monumental moments, such as Cuban Ballet giant Carlos Acosta bidding farewell to the Royal Ballet Company after being with the company for 17 years. However, arguably the most important moment for dance last year was the announcement of the merging of Dance UK, Association of Dance of the African Diaspora, National Dance Teacher’s Association and Youth Dance England to form One Dance UK. This new industry body will champion dancers at all levels of the dance industry and will support professional dancers and those within dance education. This exciting announcement right at the end of 2015 could pave the way for a year of even greater things for the dance world in years to come, and 2016 is already looking to be just as exciting as the last.

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