London’s biggest and most daring dance festival, Dance Umbrella is back for 2021


The rapidly expanding Dance Umbrella festival was forced to go digital last year, but for 2021 it’s back IRL (plus a few digi bits). Dance Umbrella is London’s most daring, brilliant and accessible dance festival. Here are five of the best shows you can see this year.

A visually stunning masterpiece from a modern dance giant

What is that? Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou “Transversal orientation” is one of the most anticipated European shows of this year and even the last (when it was due to open the prestigious Festival d’Avignon).

Why go? Papaioannou started his life as a visual artist, and his business as a choreographer are trippy paintings to turn heads. “Transverse Orientation” opened at raves in Lyon this summer, with critics swooning over its intense and bewildering barrage of images that include a naked man lying on a raging bull, a female figure resembling Venus slowly appearing to give birth and a slowly appearing on -stage lake. It’s the kind of hugely forward-thinking Eurocore that London has hardly seen since the pandemic and Brexit put the brakes on. This, my friends, is the difficult thing.

Sadler’s well. October 21-23. £ 15- £ 45.

An origami-based craft and dance show for children under five

What is that? that of Takeshi Matsumoto ‘Origami Club’ – who will be visiting London’s arts centers during Dance Umbrella – starts off as a craft session and turns into energetic and accessible family dance work.

Why go? Dance Umbrella is one of the few dance events in London that consistently features work aimed specifically at young children, and “Club Origami” seems likely to press all the right buttons, enticing children into asking them to try their hand. origami, then wow them with a fun and energetic close-up dance.

Stanley Arts, Oct 8 The Albany, Oct 9 The Place, Oct 10 Watermans Arts Center, Oct 17 Artsdepot, Oct 24 Prices vary.

A football match without a ball

What is that? The main event of the DU @ BellSquareLDN Free Outdoor Bill in Hounslow, Ahilan Ratnamohan ‘Extra time’ features six dancers in soccer gear playing a game, without actual soccer.

Why go? It’s a fascinating exploration of the beauty in the beautiful game. It’s not just ballet dancers prancing in a pas de deux in an outside band. The choreography is based entirely on the movements of real footballers. If you believe football is an art, this is a show for you.

Place Bell, Hounslow. October 9. Free.

A coming-of-age story in hip hop

What is that? Choreographer and hip hop performer Dani Harris-Walters ‘Happy Father’s Day’ is a humorous coming-of-adulthood (as in, it’s literally puberty) story told through dance, rap, and fun skits.

Why go? Paired in a double program with Kesha Raithatha’s intense “Traces”, “Happy Father’s Day” brings an elegant, playful and fun side to the festival, and a highlight of DU’s takeover of Watermans on the weekend, as part of its commitment to bring world-class dance to the outer boroughs of London.

Waterman Arts Center. October 16. £ 10.

A digital umbrella

What is that? While live performances are a thing again, there are several online offerings exclusive to the festival this year. You can watch them without leaving your home by purchasing a Digital Pass.

Why go? Prosaically, you might just not feel ready to go back to the theater just yet, or you have some other reason not to be able to come see Dance Umbrella in the flesh. But the Dance Umbrella Digital Pass is definitely not for the same shows, but on your laptop. It’s a completely different program that ranges from exciting original commissions, like the artistic dances of Jade Hackett “Battle of London”, to a rare chance to see the acclaimed show by Dimitris Papaioannou ‘Nowhere’.

In line. Dates vary (but most shows are available October 8-24). Pay what you can (£ 5-30).

The best theater shows in London 2021 and 2022.

The Roundhouse is building a huge new creative hub.


Gerald R. Schneider

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