DanceLive steps out in the Granite City this weekend and the festival intends to live up to its name – offering the best dance performances in front of live audiences.
“It feels really good to be bringing it back fully in person,” said Hayley Durward, CEO of Citymoves Dance Agency, the organisation behind the popular festival.
“In 2020 we did a fully digital festival (due to the pandemic), last year we did a hybrid, with live streaming and some in person, so this year we are looking forward to embracing audiences.”
This will be DanceLive’s 17th outing, offering a rich array of performances at venues across the city from Thursday October 20 to Monday October 24.
DanceLive will be an extravaganza that transforms Aberdeen
Hayley said it will be a five-day extravaganza of dance that will transform Aberdeen into a festival city.
“In these five days we try to have something for everybody. We’ve got work for families, work for people who like technical high-energy pieces and we’ve got work that involves live musicians and we’ve got outdoor works that people can stumble across in the city centre,” said Haley.
“Dance Live has changed a lot over the 17 years, but we established this version of being condensed over four or five days in 2019. The reason for that was to provide that festival atmosphere.”
Hayley said the weekend will attract people from across Scotland and other parts of the UK, to spend three or four nights in the city taking in all that DanceLive has to offer.
Artists enjoy it, too, as a way to network.
“It also means that events piggyback on each other,” she said. “You might see a phenomenal piece that you walk past in the street, then think ‘I want to see more of this festival’ then end up booking tickets for something in the Anatomy Rooms which they might never have heard of before.”
This year’s programme offers a rich array from some of the finest dance practitioners working today.
The festival opens on Thursday night with a work by Clare and Lesley Disabled Dance in CityMove’s Anatomy Rooms space.
“They are emerging artists that have come through the Scottish dance scene. It’s a lovely piece of work to open the festival, quite short at 10 minutes,” said Hayley.
Homegrown talent very much in the mix for Aberdeen’s DanceLive fest
“It leads directly into Joseph Tonga, an artist who works in London. (Born To Exist) is a very strong piece and one not to be missed.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Dance Theatre will present Ray a very special performance in the Cowdray Hall on Saturday October 22 which was created by Brussels-based choreographer Meytal Blanaru.
Hayley said: “This is their latest work which is touring, called Ray, and the audience sits very close to them, which is why we have chosen Cowdray Hall.
“There are two layers of audience, so you can choose to sit in the front row if you want to be influenced by the performance.
“The performers can come up to you and you can push them away, so there is a nice bit of interaction. It’s very much a performance for right now.”
Another highlight is Worn, by White and Givan, being held in the Anatomy Rooms on Friday.
Hayley said: “We had actually scheduled Worn for DanceLive in 2020, but then the pandemic hit.
“So we commissioned them to make a film based on it, which we showed in 2020, so this year we are bringing the live version of the work, so we’re really excited.”
Exhibition to celebrate 35 years of Citymoves Dance Agency in Aberdeen
Homegrown dance is also very much in the mix for the festival, said Hayley, with Citymoves working year-round to foster and promote talent in Aberdeen and to choose some for DanceLive.
Hayley said: “One of those is Katy Armstrong, a local choreographer, and her dancers Millie and Rosie – Rosie is also from Aberdeen. So on Saturday night we will have their performance of Glisk.
“We will also have our youth company, Fusion, performing in that. Katy has choreographed a piece for them as a curtain raiser for the evening.”
DanceLive also works closely with another city event, SoundFestival, which has led to a creative collaboration this year.
“We’ve got a project called Fast And Dirty, taking three composers and three choreographers and mashing them up to see how they created work. That performance will be in on Sunday in the Anatomy Rooms.”
Asked what would be her one “don’t miss” event, Hayley said it would be too difficult to decide from the diverse programme.
“They are all so good, I couldn’t choose just one, so I’ll try to get along to everything,” she said.
There is one thing Hayley will definitely be going to and that’s the exhibition in The Anatomy Rooms celebrating 35 years of CityMoves.
It will be a heady mix of memorabilia plus photos and interviews with people involved in the organisation, either as dancers, choreographers or members of classes, over the past three and a half decades.
How to find out more about Aberdeen’s DanceLive festival
“There’s a real family atmosphere plus a loop of people taking classes then maybe going on to train as dancers then coming back to us and we commission them to create work that is maybe performed in DanceLive,” she said.
“So there’s a lovely red thread that goes around the whole organisation and we wanted to shout about it this year.”
For more information on DanceLive – and CityMoves – go to citymoves.org.uk