Does a mere global pandemic bring everything to a grinding halt? Of course not. Unperturbed by having to cancel Leicester’s annual Let’s Dance International Frontiers festival because of COVID-19, Pawlet Brookes, the Artistic Director and CEO of Serendipity (the organisers of the festival), promptly decided to hold it online instead. Thus, Alternative LDIF20 was born.
Kyle Abraham. Photo by Tatiana Wills
Alternative DIF20 runs from 29 April–16 May 2020 and includes contributions from the likes of Kyle Abraham, Alice Sheppard and Annabel Guérédrat & Henri Tauliaut. There will be dance performances, speakers, an online exhibition, film screenings, the launch of Serendipity’s podcast and an enticing look behind the scenes with LDIF20 artists. It’ll all culminate with the debut of a collective dance short film. The collaborative work, 30 Seconds of Freedom, will be comprised of thirty-second bursts of movement submitted by dancers, artists and enthusiasts from around the world.
Pawlet took some time out from her crazy schedule to share the love for Alternative LDIF20 and the world in general:
DancingReview (DR): There’s an enormous breadth of material – lectures, screening, performance – in Alternative LDIF20. How on earth are you managing to coordinate it all?
Pawlet Brookes. Photo by Stuart Hollis
Pawlet Brookes (PB): The process of pulling Alternative LDIF20 together has been something of a whirlwind! When we made the decision to postpone LDIF20, within the space of a week we’d spoken to each artist (who had initially been booked to appear at LDIF20) and curated a digital dance festival that became Alternative Let’s Dance International Frontiers. When we discussed the digital approach with the artists many suggested we include dance films or filmed performances while the Dance Dialogues programme looks back at past LDIF conferences.
DR: Does it highlight the value of technology in the expression of dance?
PB: There will never be a replacement for seeing dance live, but in our current situation technology has provided an opportunity to connect in a way that we wouldn’t have been able to, even ten years ago when we first started LDIF. It breaks down barriers and borders, and can introduce people to dance, and from our perspective it is an opportunity to showcase dance from the African and African Caribbean Diaspora. Technology can be used in creative ways to create and share dance: for instance some elements of the Alternative LDIF20 is dance made for camera. Additionally, we have a dance film called 30 Seconds of Freedom, created collectively through dancers and choreographers sharing 30 seconds of movement they have filmed on their phones. I think that Alternative LDIF20 shows what can be possible with technology and creativity.
DR: This is LDIF’s 10th anniversary. What have been its main achievements?
Yinka Esi-Graves. Photo by Nina Sologubenko
PB: Over the last ten years, LDIF has developed an identity and recognition internationally as a platform that brings together high quality and culturally diverse performances. We have hosted innovative conferences and symposiums that put artists and practitioners centre stage when talking about their work, and through the conferences and workshop programmes helped to raise the profile of techniques from the African and African Caribbean Diaspora such as L’Antech, Talawa Technique and Techni’ka. I also think one of the main achievements has been our work with artists throughout different levels of their career: from emerging to established artists, we have commissioned 105 new works, presented 39 world premieres and 66 UK premieres.
DR: Regarding the coronavirus pandemic: what do you hope will be the long-term benefits of pretty much the whole world sharing (albeit in different ways) the same experience?
PB: I think it gives something for people to look forward to amidst disruption to everyday lives that everyone has had to face. LDIF works with artists all over the world and I do believe that dance is a universal language, I think the opportunity for everyone to gather together will inspire new collaborations and new ways of working.
DR: Thank you, and best of luck with the festival.
Alternative LDIF20 starts on 29 April at 7pm and continues until 16 May 2020. Here’s the link to the full programme and all the information you need to get watching.