Pawlet Brookes on Let’s Dance International Frontiers

Wed 21 Apr 2021

Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF) is an annual international dance festival that happens every year in Leicester produced by Serendipity. The festival features performances, discussions, workshops and a conference exploring dance as a medium for positive change.

Working in partnership with the company this year we will be staging a number of events from the festival.

Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Serendipity, Pawlet Brookes tells us a little bit about the history of the festival and gives us some insight into the events happening at Curve.

For those who aren’t aware of Let’s Dance International Festival we’re now entering our eleventh year, in that time we have welcomed over 266 artists from over 45 countries.

This year the theme of the festival is ‘creating socially engage art, can dance change the world?’. This was a theme we already had planned for this year’s festival despite the pandemic but it seems more appropriate now than ever before to address this question.

The work we do at Serendipity has always been rooted in the themes of equality and inclusion from artists and audiences from intersectional identities. Black Lives Matter movement has gained a particular focus recently, but it’s not a new thing for us to work with artists and activists who are driving those conversations.

Last year we had just began to enter the first lockdown when the festival was due to happen so we had to move quickly to stage the events online, which thanks to the hard work of the team at Serendipity and the artists involved we were able to successfully do. For this year’s festival, we’ve miss out by less than a month before safely being able to have some of the artists perform to an audience in person. At Serendipity throughout the last 12 months across all our work we have continued to push the question how we can make our work more accessible so everyone can come and join and be part of the festival.

For Let’s Dance International Frontiers this year we have looked at multiple ways of delivering the work from live streaming, online exhibitions, publications, conferencing and online discussions.

For a number of events, we are delighted to be working in partnership again with Curve.

Launching the festival on 29 April will be the Colonisation in Reverse: Jean-Léon Destiné Exhibition. Featuring archival materials, some of which have never been presented in public before. The exhibition brings to life the rich and provocative career of acclaimed Haitian choreographer Jean-Léon Destiné (1918 – 2013), known for his work that addresses Haiti’s history of resistance against colonialism and slavery.

The exhibition will be available at from the 29 April. The exhibition will also be available in person at Curve from late May.

The livestreamed Black British Dance Platform (Fri 30 April) will be a showcase of new and innovative work by British based artists from the African and African Caribbean Diaspora. The commission is supported by Serendipity and Dance4 with the aim to cultivate a sector that is representative of contemporary Britain and to open opportunities for artists to connect internationally.

This year the two pieces selected were Ruins by the company FUBUNATION and Happy Father’s Day by Dani Harris-Walters.

The second livestream at Curve will be BOP Jazz Theatre Company’s Spirit of Jazz (Wed 5 May) a collaboration of the all the art forms, music, dance and theatre as it’s whole. BOP Jazz Theatre Company have 24 years’ experience of reinterpreting famous jazz pieces for a contemporary audience while keeping jazz as a core essence of the Black tradition.

Continuing the international element of the livestream performances Yinka Esi Graves and Maya Taylor (Fri 7 and Sat 8 May) present a double bill of two new piece. Yinka is an international flamenco dancer based in Spain debuting her latest piece The Disappearing Act and international choreographer Maya based in New Orleans will be performing Shape | Shifter a piece set to various Grace Jones tracks.

For dance enthusiasts, artists and academics this year’s festival conference is Creating Socially Engaged Art: Can Dance Change the World? (Tue 4 May) will be online, seeking to highlight the impact that Black women in particular have made to the international dance ecology.

Contributors to the conference include, Jeanette Bain-Burnett (UK), Vivine Scarlett (Canada), Chanon Judson, Urban Bush Women (USA), Greta Mendez (Trinidad /UK), Maya Taylor (USA), Marlene Myrtil (Martinique/UK) and Wanjiru Kamuya (Kenya/France).

As well as world class performances we are also giving audiences a number of opportunities to be involved in the conversation online alongside leading artists and practitioners and workshop opportunities for emerging and mid-career artists.

Pawlet Brookes

Let’s Dance International Frontier 2021 Online programme runs from 29 Apr – 8 May 2021, to discover the full programme visit