Open call for Manchester's freaky dancers

Fancy yourself as the new Bez? Got shapes to throw? Want to be a part of Deansgate history? Manchester International Festival wants to hear from you.

To mark the opening of the 2021 festival, MIF is inviting 160 Greater Manchester residents of all dancing abilities to take part in Sea Change, an exciting brand new dance event set to take place on Thursday 1 July.

Performance organisers encourage people of all backgrounds, abilities, fitness and mobility levels to get involved

Led by prolific French choreographer Boris Charmatz (National Opera in Paris, MoMa, and MIF 17's 10,000 Gestures) and his team of professional dancers, participants will be taught a series of dance movements to be performed on the spot. A free-roaming audience on Deansgate will be able to experience the performance by walking and running past groups of dancers creating a scene akin to a living flipbook.

Performance organisers have stressed the importance of a diverse range of participants in the event and encourage people (18+) of all backgrounds, abilities, fitness and mobility levels to get involved. The lucky 160 will be required to attend eight rehearsal sessions over a ten-day period (approximately 30 hours in total) between Saturday 19 June and the world premiere on Thursday 1 July.

Bells For Peace The Opening Event Of Manchester International Festival 2019 In Cathedral Gardens In Manchester With Yoko Ono Image Credit Danny Lawson 2
Bells for Peace with Yoko Ono opened MIF19 attracting thousands to Cathedral Gardens Danny Lawson

A Sea Change for Manchester International Festival 2021

Sea Change is just one of many events in this year’s festival programme aiming to put Greater Manchester residents at the heart of the beloved festival’s output. Elsewhere on the programme Portrait of Black Britain will bring a selection of 100 portraits of Black British people - with many from the Greater Manchester area - to displays throughout Manchester Arndale and the city.

Greater Manchester residents will also take part in I Love You Too, a new book of love stories commissioned by the festival and written by eleven Manchester-based writers.

MIF21 is all about community

The emphasis on community at MIF 2021 has also fed into the festival’s talks and discussions series, with Manchester residents taking over curating duties for the first time in the festival’s history. Speakers this year will range from artists and activists to key workers and campaigners. Looking Forward to Tomorrow will see them touch upon issues such as the climate crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Manchester International Festival has excellent form when it comes to getting the wider public involved in inventive exhibitions and performances. 2019’s Yoko Ono-led Bells for Peace saw thousands gather in Cathedral Gardens to ring bells for peace with 4000 specially engraved bells provided for the event as well as many people bringing their own.

What Is The City But The People Launch Event For Manchester International Festival 2017 Credit Hawkins Brown
MIF17 was launched with What Is the City but the People? a collaborate catwalk putting residents centre stage Hawkins Brown

Previous immersive and collaborative events have included 2017’s What is the city but the people? - an opening event catwalk that placed Manchester residents at the forefront of modelling, and Fatherlandan ambitious show about fatherhood that encouraged adult males to join the show’s choir with guidance from among others, Karl Hyde from Underworld. 2015's The Skriker, starring Maxine Peake, featured a community choir made up of Greater Manchester residents (incidentally including Manchester Confidential's own Kelly Bishop).

MIF Artistic Director John McGrath on Sea Change

Speaking on the 2021 opening event, MIF Artistic Director John McGrath stressed the importance of locals in the festival programme:

“At MIF we have a proud tradition of creating large-scale participatory events that bring the city together – from MIF17’s catwalk celebration of local residents, What is the City But the People, to Together in One Voice, the joyous mass doorstep singalong during lockdown.”

“This year, whether it’s dancing in the streets of Deansgate, sharing love stories, performing in Festival Square, or simply enjoying the many free events and activities around the city, we hope that Greater Manchester residents will be inspired to take part and help create another celebratory moment for the city.”

We look forward to seeing Deansgate filled with dancers and might even get our dancing pants on ourselves. 

Want to join in? Apply to be a part of Sea Change on the MIF21 website

New board members announced for MIF21

In other MIF21 news, Manchester International Festival (MIF) has appointed four new Board members and a new Venue Director as the organisation prepares to launch The Factory, MIF's new year-round home of cutting-edge art, music and culture.

Sheena Wrigley joins the organisation as Venue Director from September. Sheena's previous roles include Director of the Palace Theatre & Opera House, Manchester, part of the Ambassador’s Theatre Group, Chief Executive of West Yorkshire Playhouse (now Leeds Playhouse), and Executive Director of HOME where she played a leading role in the successful opening of the new venue.

The new MIF board members - leaders in their respective fields - are: Gary Neville, renowned footballer, pundit and businessman; creative powerhouse Grace Ladoja - working across artist, brand and youth partnerships, management and curation; Ibrahim Mahama - visual artist whose work explores commodity, migration, globalisation and economic exchange; and Shaminder Nahal - Commissioning Editor at Channel 4 with a wealth of broadcast experience as a journalist.

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