Dance Umbrella announces further line-up for Festival 2019

Dance Umbrella

London’s international festival of contemporary dance takes place across the capital from     8 – 27 October 2019.

 Emma Gladstone, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dance Umbrella, introduces the programme ‘Dance Umbrella is on the move.  This year we will be reaching audiences right across the capital, travelling to more locations than ever before with performances made by choreographers hailing from Africa, Australia, USA and of course Europe. Imagination is the force that makes change possible, and as creators, inventors, thinkers and dreamers they have things to share with all of us. Roll on October.’

 Oona Doherty (Northern Ireland) is DU19’s Featured Artist. She will be presenting London premieres of two works, curating one of three afternoons of short dance films at the Barbican and creating work with girls as part of DU’s Access Croydon programme.

 Hard to be Soft – London Premiere

Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall: Friday 11 October 8pm

Having picked up awards at Dublin and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Oona Doherty makes her London debut at Dance Umbrella with her searing evocation of the city streets of Belfast. Hard to be Soft unfolds over four distinct verses and, in a tender tribute, weaves everyday stories into a tapestry of mesmerising movement, religious iconography and haunting sound by DJ David Holmes.  Doherty’s unpredictable style and unique way of structuring her work, together with her knack for confounding conventions, has made her stand out as a highly original talent whose work is charged with raw physicality and poetic desire.

Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Southbank Centre

 Hope Hunt & The Ascension into Lazarus – London Premiere

The Yard: Monday 14 – Wednesday 16 October 7.30pm

Oona Doherty’s solo performance is bursting with fury, swagger and humanity.  Hope Hunt shatters facades, dismantles stereotypes and finds beauty on the periphery. Doherty adopts multiple personas of disaffected male youth – too often disregarded and stigmatised – and channels aggression, humour, hedonism, joy and despair in quick-fire succession.

Fragmented and meticulously detailed, her intuitive social portrait vibrates with blistering physical and vocal energy. Gestures, words and utterances combine in a wholly distinctive body language, contorting ideas of masculinity and morality. Doherty invites audiences to look behind the mask of ego and affectation.

Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with The Yard

Gregory Maqoma (South Africa)Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero – UK Premiere

Barbican: Thursday 17 –Saturday 19 October 7.45pm

A rousing dance theatre work, Cion transfixes us with choreography of rhythmic dexterity and ecstatic intensity to the sounds of a live South African choir.

Making his third Dance Umbrella appearance since 2015, celebrated dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma is Toloki – a paid mourner confronting a world in which greed, power and religious ideology lead so often to the normalisation of needless death and loss. Inspired by the protagonist from South African author Zakes Mda’s stories, this physical lamentation unfolds to the musical motif of Ravel’s Bolero, reinterpreted here through stirring song and percussion by four traditional vocalists joined onstage by eight gifted artists from Vuyani Dance Theatre.

Maqoma, who sees art as a commentary on how we treat others, created this soaring piece as a response to contemporary political events in his own country and globally.

Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with the Barbican

Mythili Prakash (USA) Here and Now – World Premiere


Fairfield Halls: Friday 18 October 7.30pm

Selected by Akram Khan as his ‘choreographer for the future’ as part of DU’s 40th anniversary commissioning initiative Four by Four, LA-based Mythili Prakash presents a world premiere as part of DU’s takeover of Croydon’s gleamingly refurbished Fairfield Halls for a captivating start to the weekend’s events. Classically trained in the Indian dance form Bharata Natyam, Mythili’s first contemporary work features live percussive and vocal accompaniment with lighting by Guy Hoare.

Fairfield Takeover is the latest and largest scale phase of DU’s ongoing relationship with Croydon and the full weekend programme will be announced in May.

Commissioned by Dance Umbrella

Produced and presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Fairfield Halls

Supported by Croydon Council

Philippe Saire (Switzerland) Hocus Pocus – London Premiere

Various London venues 11 – 26 October – see listings for full details.

For DU19’s London Orbital Tour, Lausanne-based choreographer Philippe Saire directs a dreamlike spectacle, with dance, theatre and stage trickery set to music from Grieg’s Peer Gynt. Igniting the imaginations of children aged six+, this international hit features two awesomely dextrous performers, vivid costumes and eerie props. Voyage into the unknown with this bewitching gem of a family show, in which gravity dissolves, bodies bravely contort and optical illusions conjure other worlds.

A Dance Umbrella Orbital Tour in partnership with artsdepot, Fairfield Halls, Stratford Circus Arts Centre, The Albany, The Place and Watermans

Presented at the Barbican Cinema, Dance Umbrella Sunday Shorts brings three mixed bills of choreographically inspired films curated by DU19 featured artist Oona Doherty, Out of the System curator Freddie Opoku-Addaie and Independent Dance Co-Director Gitta Wigro to the big screen.

Dance Umbrella: Sunday Shorts 1 – Oona Doherty

Barbican Cinema: Sunday 13 October 3.30pm                                                         

 Dance Umbrella: Sunday Shorts 2 – Freddie Opoku-Addaie

Barbican Cinema: Sunday 20 October 3.30pm

Dance Umbrella: Sunday Shorts 3 – Gitta Wigro

Barbican Cinema: Sunday 27 October 3.30pm

Curated by Dance Umbrella, presented in partnership with Barbican Cinema

Dance Umbrella Lecture: The Role of the Artist in Cultural Democracy

Francois Matarasso (France) in conversation with Lyn Gardner

National Theatre, Cottesloe Room: Wednesday 9 October 5pm

Community artist, writer and researcher, François Matarasso is a firm believer in the positive outcomes of people’s participation in art and he continues to combine community arts practice with research and consultancy all over the world.  His latest book A Restless Art, How participation won and why it matters, was published by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2019;

A Dance Umbrella event in partnership with the National Theatre
Supported by One Dance UK

Previously Announced

 Gisèle Vienne (France) – Crowd – UK Premiere                               

Sadler’s Wells: Tuesday 8 – Wednesday 9 October 7.30pm

Supported by the Institut Français as part of FranceDance UK

Four by Four Commission: Georgia Vardarou (Greece) – Why Should It Be More Desirable… – World Premiere

Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells: Wednesday 23 – Thursday 24 October at 8pm

A Dance Umbrella Commission

Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Sadler’s Wells


Dance Umbrella in partnership with ResCen, Middlesex University to provide unique insight into the choreographic process

Emma Gladstone
Emma Gladstone

Emma Gladstone

Launching in the 40th year of the festival, ResCen: Dance Umbrella at 40 will be documenting the creative process of artists it has commissioned, as they develop and create new work. The programme kicks off by capturing many of this year’s events but will also chart how artists approach their choreography from the inception stage of their ideas, to the development of their vision through to a finished dance work programmed and performed at future festivals.

This is the first time Dance Umbrella will give access for insight into how artists make the work audiences nor, mally only experience in its finished form.

Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dance Umbrella, Emma Gladstone said ‘’This new partnership with Professor Chris Bannerman and his ResCen team at Middlesex University is a game changer for Dance Umbrella.  It allows us to work with artists as they develop the early seeds of an idea, and support it to the point where it can flower.  Like any area of investigation -whether in IT, industry, science or art – time for research is essential to test drive the strength and validity of new concepts, and ResCen has time and again proved itself to be a place where this can happen.” 

ResCen is a Middlesex University Research Centre and not only supports artists in reflecting on and documenting what is usually a closed-door process, it also involves students, under the expert supervision of Professor Chris Bannerman, and joint team member Carolina Courbis, who will undertake many forms of documentation. This year the website will share videos from rehearsals, artists’ notes, discussions and interviews; photography, blog posts, social media content and more. They will also create a 30-minute documentary about the 2018 festival and 40th anniversary.

Bannerman – an ex choreographer and LCDT dancer who made work for the first ever Dance Umbrella festival, said of the project: “It is a great pleasure to be working with DU and a privilege to be involved in their 40th anniversary – an event that not only looks back to past achievements, but which also highlights the undiminished vigour of their work and the breadth of vision of dance and performance that they bring to audiences. Now more than ever, it is vital that those involved in universities and the arts sector find new ways to work together to ensure that the richness of the UK’s cultural life is sustained and enables new voices to emerge.”

ResCen has worked with several arts partners including Step Out Arts as part of the ArtsCross collaboration with Beijing Dance Academy and Taipei National University of the Arts; Sadlers Wells Theatre as part of the Elixir Ensemble’s performance of Big Dance Theater’s The Road Awaits Us. However, this is its most substantial, long-term collaboration to date.

This year the collaboration will provide web-posting of all DU’s ‘talk time’ events including the 40th anniversary party, plus interviews with artists involved in Dance Umbrella’s 4 x 4 initiative, plus Chris Bannerman in discussion with Emma Gladstone and previous DU Artistic Directors Val Bourne CBE and Betsy Gregory. 4 x 4 nominated choreographers will be announced on 13 October.

ResCen: Dance Umbrella at 40 can be accessed at from 17 September.

For full details of the 2018 Dance Umbrella programme and Talk Time events visit


Dance Umbrella announces Four by Four – a 40th anniversary initiative supporting the choreographers of the future

  • Val Bourne CBE, Betsy Gregory and Emma Gladstone have invited Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Stephen Petronio, Akram Khan, and Rocío Molina to nominate an emerging talent to make work for future festivals
  • Dance Umbrella 2018 will take place from 26 September – 21 October in venues across London

Dance Umbrella, London’s flagship festival of international dance, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this autumn. To mark this milestone DU has launched Four by Four – a programme inspired by the festival’s four decades of artistic growth, a way of moving forwards by looking back.

In Four by Four all three of DU’s Artistic Directors, Val Bourne CBE, Betsy Gregory and Emma Gladstone, have invited an established artist from their time at the helm to nominate a ‘choreographer of the future’.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Stephen Petronio, Akram Khan and Rocío Molina will each nominate four young, up-and-coming choreographers to receive funding from Four by Four to create a show that will be performed in future festivals. The selected recipients will be announced during the festival this autumn.

Emma Gladstone, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dance Umbrella, said: “We are delighted to announce our Four by Four nominators today. Through this new development programme we are able to continue to support and nurture exceptional talent, which is what Dance Umbrella has always striven to do. For this special anniversary year I wanted to find a way to acknowledge the history of DU whilst still looking to the future, and asking the wisdom of artists who have had a significant impact on the festival and the wider contemporary dance scene felt a good way to do that. ”

Val Bourne CBE who was Artistic Director from 1978-2007, said: “In my 29 years as founder Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella there have been so many highlights and I’m immensely proud to have brought so much international talent to our shores such as Anne Teresa and Stephen. I am hugely excited to discover who they will select as recipients of the support this initiative will provide, and I encourage anyone who cares about the future of contemporary dance to support this commissioning initiative in whatever way they can.

In Dance Umbrella’s first decade (1978–1988) choreographers such as Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, Compagnie Cré-Ange, Steve Paxton and Mark Morris were among the international artists invited to perform in London, together with the UK’s Siobhan Davies, MAAS Movers, Rosemary Butcher, Richard Alston, Michael Clark, Jonathan Burrows and Shobana Jeyasingh among many, many more.

Over the years DU has gone on to provide an astonishing eighty artists with essential funds to make shows, acting as a catalyst by investing in their visions and enabling audiences to see truly pioneering dance. DU’s belief in the power of helping artists in this way still burns bright and Four by Four is a celebration of this legacy as the festival looks to the next forty years and beyond.

More information about how to donate and support for Four by Four can be found at




17c – BIG DANCE THEATER                                            UK PREMIERE
The Old Vic: Wednesday 26 – Saturday 29 September 7.00pm
Saturday 29 September 2.30pm
Press performance: Thursday 27 September 7.00pm

Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with The Old Vic.
With support from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Greenwich Peninsula: Saturday 29 September 2pm & 4pm
BOXPARK Croydon: Sunday 7 October 12.30pm & 2pm
Somerset House: Saturday 13 October 3pm & 5pm
Press performance: Saturday 29 September 4pm
Presented by Dance Umbrella.
Produced by Complicité.
In partnership with Greenwich Peninsula, Croydon Council and Somerset House.


National Theatre, Cottesloe Room: Tuesday 2 October 5.30pm – 7pm
Vicky Featherstone in conversation with Ruth Little
Produced by Dance Umbrella in partnership with the National Theatre.
Supported by One Dance UK.

RED – WEN HUI                                                                             LONDON PREMIERE
Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room: Thursday 4 – Friday 5 October 7.45pm
Press performance: Thursday 4 October 7.45pm
Part of Southbank Centre’s China Changing Festival
Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Southbank Centre.

CONCERT – COLIN DUNNE                                                         LONDON PREMIERE
The Pit, Barbican Centre: Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 October 7.45pm
Press performance: Thursday 18 October 7.45pm
Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with the Barbican. With support from Culture Ireland.

VIA KANANA – VIA KATLEHONG                                                        UK PREMIERE
Part of OUT OF THE SYSTEM                                                                          
Shoreditch Town Hall: Wednesday 10 – Thursday 11 October 7.30pm
Press Performance: Wednesday 10 October 7.30pm
Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Shoreditch Town Hall.

CRXSS PLATFXRM                                                                     FESTIVAL EXCLUSIVE
Part of OUT OF THE SYSTEM                                                             

Shoreditch Town Hall: Friday 12 October 6pm
Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with CRXSS PLATFXRM and Shoreditch Town Hall.

Sadler’s Wells: Tuesday 16 – Wednesday 17 October 7.30pm
Press performance: Tuesday 16 October 7.30pm
Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Sadler’s Wells.

KoKERS – DADODANS                                                                      LONDON PREMIERE
Stratford Circus Arts Centre: Saturday 29 September 11am
artsdepot: Sunday 30 September 11am & 2pm
The Place: Saturday 6 October 10.30am & 2pm
Watermans: Sunday 7 October 11.30am
Press tickets available for all performances
For ages 3+
A Dance Umbrella Orbital London Tour in partnership with artsdepot, Stratford Circus Arts Centre, The Place and Watermans.

THRESHOLD – LE PATIN LIBRE                                                            UK PREMIERE
Alexandra Palace Ice Rink
Thursday 18 October 8.30pm
Friday 19 – Sunday 21 October 6.15pm & 8.45pm
Press performance: Thursday 18 October 8.30pm
Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with Alexandra Palace. Supported by Québec Government Office, London. Co-producers – Dance Umbrella (London), Danse Danse (Montreal, Canada), Théâtre de la Ville de Paris (France), National Arts Centre (Canada), Nuits de Fourvière de Lyon (France).

The full programme is attached and can be viewed online at  

Interview Dance Umbrella’s Artistic Director, Emma Gladstone: “I’m really thrilled that we are working with a whole mix of international and diverse artists. We really hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up!”

Emma Gladstone
Emma Gladstone

Emma Gladstone

Dance Umbrella is London’s international dance festival, celebrating 21st century choreography across the capital. Emma Gladstone is the artistic director of Dance Umbrella. Over its long history Dance Umbrella has been undeniably influential in opening the eyes of art-makers to a very different kind of way to make and present work.

We are talking on the phone ahead of the 2017 season announcement, Gladstone is seeking quiet from a noisy toddler ahead of an important meeting at The Barbican, London. Certainly, there is plenty on her plate “I would say it is a mixture of exhaustion and anticipation,” she adds, quickly. “I get very excited about launching our festival season. It’s a massive time of the year and afterwards I can just about breathe a sigh of relief. One of the things I’m trying to do is keep it really tight; everything we are doing is outlined on the back of the brochure.”

Gladstone’s aim is to make a Dance Umbrella for everyone. “I think there is a huge audience interested in live art, physical theatre and dance. There’s a huge potential audience that don’t get what we are doing yet, but I’m trying to change their minds,” she says. “It’s important to remember that Dance for the mass audiences since 1930 has been mostly classical ballet. I think there is a big crossover of people who are curious – they think they won’t like it and I want to persuade them otherwise. We programme some evocative and resonant work that can transport you intellectually, emotionally and physically.


Rocío Molina

Rocío Molina. Click on the image to book your tickets for Fallen From Heaven

Since many creative companies can’t endure without subsidy and/or big commissions, their identities swing according to the work they’re permitted to make. Many find themselves pushed towards children’s theatre. Gladstone is instinctively inclusive, and fundamentally aware of the bigger picture when it comes to programming work for a live art festival. “I started programming the festival very selfishly as a young mum in 2000, when I was working at The Place,” she says. “It’s such a physical art form and lots of young people attend classes so for me it made sense to integrate pieces for them into Dance Umbrella. It’s like having Rocío Molina returning with Fallen From Heaven (Caída del Cielo). She ended up getting an Olivier nomination [for Bosque Ardora in 2015] as soon as she was taken out that ‘flamenco box’ and her work was seen for what it is more widely. I’m really keen on that.”

Dance Umbrella 2017

Dance Umbrella 2017. Click on the image to book your tickets.

It is by all accounts worth looking at what value we place on the work Dance Umbrella showcases. But what is she most proud of in this year’s line up? “I would say I’m most proud of Satchie Noro and Silvain Ohl’s spectacular outdoor performance Origami, on a 40ft shipping container at Battersea Power Station that will be going on a little tour of the Thames and around London,” she says. “I’ve been working with developers for the first time, so it’s been quite a long process getting access and permission from those sites down the river. It’s impressive but it’s got something very peaceful about it. We are also going to sunny Croydon; I’m so keen on us getting out of the centre and the big houses. There’s a real pleasure in the mobility of running a festival outside of a venue.”

The emphasis of her programming is on increasing diversity, on gender equality and co-production, making the audience base as wide as it can possibly be. “We’re doing these two very special festival-within-a-festival events; one at Rich Mix and one at Shoreditch Town Hall,” she says excitedly. “Guest Programmer Freddie Opoku-Addaie is creating a festival-within-a-festival with two live bands from all over Asia, Europe and South America. I’m really thrilled that we are working with a whole mix of international and diverse artists. We really hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up!”

Dance Umbrella 2017 will take place across London from 11 – 28 October 2017.