Birmingham Festival 23 announces full programme

Birmingham Festival 23 announces full programme

Following the announcement of its opening event, newly titled One City, A Thousand Memories, Birmingham Festival 23 is proud to announce the full programme of events for the 10 day festival which takes place from 28 July – 6 August in Centenary Square.

A packed programme will run daily from 11am – 9pm catering to all ages and interests, each day beginning with welcoming participatory activities, including a regular morning slot hosted by Games Mascot Perry. Back-to-back live and on screen performances throughout each day including projects commissioned through the Made In Brum open call; and each evening a strand under the umbrella title Twilight Takeovers will feature new partnerships, collectives and artists creatively collaborating to bring each day to a fabulous close.

The 6pm Power Hour sees a range of fun workouts and easy-to-follow classes that you can make the most of in that post-work diversion from the gym. There’s masses of music, a deluge of dance and a plethora of performances. It will be a joyous, fun and heartfelt celebration to mark the one year anniversary of the Commonwealth Games in 2022, and is another bold showcase of Birmingham’s talent, character and reputation as a world-class destination for major events.

Raidene Carter, Creative Director of Birmingham Festival 23 said: “I am immensely proud of the Festival. Through the hard work of all the team, our partners and all the talented artists featured, we have pulled together a programme that highlights the breadth of talent in the city. All that’s missing is the amazing Brummie turn-out – last year we saw that audiences in Birmingham are the best – they’re relaxed, up for fun and so welcoming to visitors from outside the city. As the month-long countdown begins, the excitement is building, and we hope the warm weather will hold so that people can really make the most of the creative and welcoming site. Either way, we think the Festival will bring joy to audiences and participants alike.”

The Festival will open on Friday 28 July with One City, A Thousand Memories. DJ Echo Juliet and BBC Asian Network’s Bobby Friction will build excitement on the square with live VJs from 6pm ahead of the show which will start at 7pm. The event will be hosted by award-winning BBC presenter Ayo Akinwolere and DJ and Radio 1Xtra presenter Kaylee Golding in a line up that includes: B2022 Mascot, Perry with the Dhol Blasters, a host of Commonwealth Games medal-winning athletes from Team England. 

Get ready for some amazing South Asian dance and music from Festival Partners Sampad and friends on 29 July. Three local dance groups Bengali Midlands Association, Roji Sarkar, and Rhythm Group (1.10pm) come together to create a large-scale dance piece celebrating Indian and Bangladeshi dance and culture. All-female Bhangra group Vakhri-Tohr(3pm) will be celebrating their regional Indian culture through dance. Dharmesh and Jaya(3.15pm) hosts a South Asian dance party where you get to join in the fun. Chitraleka Dance Academy (5.20pm) will be performing Bharatanatyam, one of the most spectacular and ancient Indian Classical dance styles. Devika Rao and her dancers (5.30pm) will be performing Yakshagana, a retelling of the story of good overpowering evil. Join India Island Academy (5.45pm) as they dance their way round an epic journey through South Asian film. Get your heart pumping as Ultimate Bhangra(6pm) lead audiences through a Bhangra workout.

Sunday, 30 July is a day of dance for ‘every body’ from festival partner FABRIC, the Midland’s strategic dance development organisation. Warm up in an inclusive workshop led by Sense, Relaxed Welcome and Stretch (11am) offers calming movement and sound for all bodies.  Experience the captivating realm of Bollywood with Aspire Dance’s dazzling costumes and lively Bollywood music (1pm). The Twelve by Future Shift and FABRIC Centre for Advanced Training(1.45pm) sees 12 dancers unite for a celebratory performance showcasing individuality and the power of togetherness. UNBOXED by Linden Dance Company (2pm) is an explosive outdoor duet. Autin Dance Theatre uses their unique blend of contemporary storytelling, striking physicality and innovative large designs to transport audiences and communities along a carefully choreographed procession Parade – The Giant Wheel (2pm). Hip Hop theatre company O’Driscoll Collective brings live music and a multigenerational all-male cast in a raw, authentic breakin’ and hip hop performance that showcases the power of movement (2.45pm).  In Where All Paths Lead by 2FacedDance (3pm) 6 male dancers and a live drummer embrace the powerful possibilities of different journeys as they navigate their way across a series of pathways. In You’re Out of This World by LYNNEBEC(3.30pm), the Astro Groovers train up eager recruits to help them in their quest to discover the greatest party of all time! 4 – 5 pm is Power Hour, featuring Dance Battle, your chance to join a dance battle with a twist.   

31 July begins with a Sense Wellbeing Sound Bath (11am) before Perry’s Party Picnic with Creative Active Lives – Bubble Disco(12 noon) with expert bubbleologist Rachel of Spinsonic and friends. Bollywood Dreams Dance Company (1pm, Made In Brum) brings the magic of Bollywood screen to stage with a spectacular Bollywood-style performance before GEM’s Dance Academy (1.15pm Made In Brum) will lead a fully inclusive up-beat and fun dance class. Dance along to some classic tunes with Urban Line Dancing (6pm) before an Irish music and dance extravaganza with Birmingham Irish Association and Ceol Agency(7pm Twilight Takeover) who will throw a ceilidh the likes of which Centenary Square has never seen before!

On 1 August, begin with the daily Sense Wellbeing Sound Bath (11am), at midday Perry’s Party Picnic with B’Opera is a classical music experience for the under 5s where they can soar with the birds, buzz with the bees, march with the animals, and help Incy Wincy get back up again. Journey of Light by The Seekers (1.30pm Made In Brum) brings the colours of Sufi tradition presented by Rubaya Pirzada, fused with jazz keys by Dominc Scohy, exotic rhythms played by Richard Kensington, live poetry by Rango, and an enchanting dance by beautiful Aruna. Sharon Brown Fitness(6pm) will get your body moving and your energy up for a dance fitness session Sofunk®.   

On 2 August, Sense Wellbeing Sound Bath (11am) precedes Perry’s Party Picnic with Creative Active Lives (12 noon) that has all the excitement of the circus.  Wi Deh Yah By Moving Tu Balance(2pm) is an intergenerational dance performed by local women which encourages self-expression and liberation and will be accompanied by African rhythms performed by master drummers. All About The Fight by Flexus Dance Collective (6pm) is an empowering, innovative Grime Dance Theatre project. The day ends with What If (7pm Twilight Takeover) led by visionary individuals, international recording artist, songwriter, and founder of Girl Grind UK, Namywa Hutchinson, dancer and founder of Eloquent Dance Company Romanah Zhane, and Bianca Passelle-Reid, vocalist and founder of Vocal Nova Academy. What If is an untold street musical, exploring the journey of three women. There are nods to Birmingham’s music, nightlife, economy, and culture throughout, with references to places, sounds, food joints, and events that give you that true Brummie pride.

On 3 August, Perry’s Party Picnic with Capoeira – The Music Movement Martial Art(12 noon) will be a Brazilian morning of dance and martial arts. Birmingham based band Forró Tempo (1pm) will bring the rhythm, beats, and melodies of Forró, an art form from the Northeast of Brazil before Wan Sheung Chinese Cultural Dance Group(1.30pm) perform a traditional Tibetan mountain dance and a dragon dance.  Cog in the Wheel(2.15pm) is a street dance storybook unfolding on stage, revealing the impact on our lives of the constant use of mobile technology and hustle culture. The piece is conceptualised by self-taught dancer and teacher Billy Read and choreographed & performed by Def Motion, a mixture of deaf and hearing dancers. Yaram Arts (4.15pm) will bring an exciting lion masquerade dance performance accompanied by an assortment of drummers. Drum N Bounce(6pm) is Brum’s very own uplifting dance fitness class to drum & bass music, created by Emma Smallman. Day six comes to an end with Languages Between Strangers by Amerah Saleh(7pm Twilight Takeover)Journey through a collision of poetic verses, harmonious melodies, pulsating RAP beats, and electrifying dance moves.

Day eight, 4 August, includes ZeroG (1pm & 3pm) a spectacular new dance show for two dancers from Corey Baker Dance that uses a specially constructed, counterweighted lift that allows the dancers to move as if in zero-gravity and is part of a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).  GAP Entertainment(1.45pm) will be showcasing a dance performance from the Creative Collective and the Simmer Dance team made up of some of the best young dancers in Birmingham. Vanessa Sinclair VNS Productions brings you The Live Vibe Takeover (2pm) – an incredible visual and auditory experience bringing established and emerging artists, singers, MCs, and dancers together. 93:00 Collective(7pm Twilight Takeover) take us to a post-apocalyptic 2093. In an effort to reclaim their voices, the city’s resilient communities use music, fashion, and dance to promote unity and express their aspirations for a better world.

At 1.30pm on 5 August come have a taster of the fitness class Fitzelles by award-winning fitness instructor Ellie Hooper and dance along to Zumba with her crew! ACE Dance & Music (4pm) brings a collage of colour, dance, and the pulsating rhythms of Trinidad as vibrant costumes soar, amidst the backdrop of a vocal community mass choir led by Black Voices and Dutch marching band, Eternity Percussion, as they fill Centenary Square with the magical energy of melody and song. Prepare to sweat in a fiery dance-party by Boxout (6pm). Bringing the day to an end from 7pm, experience the awe-inspiring Mast Qalandar (Twilight Takeover) Dancehall Mashup (MQD Mashup!), a mesmerising intercultural fusion of music and dance directed by Associate Artist Mukhtar Dar with music by Simon Duggal and featuring international guest artist Arieb Azhar from Pakistan.   

Day ten, closing day (6 August), features School’s Out Disco(12.30pm) which celebrates the summer holidays with moments of joy and cabaret. The festival closes from 5pm with B: Music: NEXT TRACK Following 2022’s Beyond the Bricks of Brum, Next Track sees former poet laureate Casey Bailey working alongside Musical Director, Ashley Allen, and a range of regional music, poetry and spoken word artists bringing Birmingham Festival 2023 to a close. Celebrating the city as it is now, where it came from and where it might be in future, this performance will take audiences on a journey looking at acceptance, arrival and appreciation.

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