Register interest to find out more about Festival of Dance 2023
“Dance is one of the most potent art forms today, it is contemporary and temporal and has the ability to bring people together in unique shared moments of beauty and understanding. Our approach to creativity has enabled artists, dancers and choreographers to find new forms of expression in response to the unique environment here at Messums Wiltshire.”
– Artistic Director, Johnny Messum
Festival of Dance returns in 2023 14-23 July, presenting two live headline dance acts alongside the 4X20 Choreography Platform.
The ten-day festival will once again host performances, workshops, dinners with artists, dance parties and as a new addition, the final Sunday – 23 July – will be dedicated to the inaugural Messums Dance Film Festival, in which curated work of national and international dance filmmakers will be screened and awarded.
The cornerstone event of the festival is the 4X20 Choreography Platform which will take place on Tuesday 18 July 2023.
Chandenie is a London-based, Netherlands-born dancer and choreographer, whose movement vocabulary is rooted in dance forms such as Bharatanatyam, street styles and contemporary. They therefore enjoy building bridges between dance styles, where others might not see that possibility.
Chandenie has been commissioned to create work for Tate Gallery, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, The Place and The Royal Docks.
John-William Watson is a dance theatre maker from Leeds, whose work is highly theatrical and tragi- comedic. They draw influence from Surrealism, abstracting and playing with utilitarian and pedestrian movement to explore relationships between existentialism, the comedy of the mundane, nostalgia and time. John-William is an alumni of The Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, and became a Sadler’s Wells Young Associate in 2020 and a Northern Connections Artist in 2021.
The platform commissions two emerging choreographers to present one pre-existing and one newly developed choreographic work of up to 20 minutes each, with a maximum of 4 dancers.
In addition to a financial commission and networking opportunities, the artists receive professional production and marketing support and free rehearsal space provided by our affiliated partners.
The 4X20 Choreography Platform aims to support artists beyond the premiere at the Festival of Dance, and is working closely with Pavilion Dance South West to prepare a further tour for the artists in autumn 2023.
Messums Wiltshire would like to thank our judges, Sir Alistair Spalding CBE, Sadé and Kristina Alleyne, Victor Fung and Jeanette Hinton for their valuable contributions during the 4X20 selection process, as well as our affiliated partners, Rambert School and Pavilion Dance South West, for their ongoing support on this project.
Our inaugural Festival of Dance opened in July 2022 and was attended by over 1500 people, who enjoyed live dance performances and joined in free school and community dance workshops, discussion events, film screenings, parties and dinners.
Performances included Contemporary Dance 2.0 by Hofesh Shechter, Shechter II and Anti-Body by Alexander Whitley Dance Company. Messums Wiltshire created a platform for emerging choreographers, sponsoring performances by Roseanna Anderson and AOmaon Collective.
22 & 23 July 2022
As part of the Festival of Dance Messums Wiltshire introduced a newly established emerging choreographer platform 4X20. Through this platform, the organisation supported two choreographers at the beginning of their careers, providing a commission for the artists to develop new dance pieces as well as present their work at the festival.
The platform launched on 19 July 2022 and presented four works by emerging choreographers Roseanna Anderson and AOmaon Collective, Adelié Lavail and Olivia Grassot.
The first half of the evening showcased the existing works of the choreographers, in which two very different duets were presented as pre-existing work.
‘Quote, quotable’ by Roseanna Anderson delved into Gertrude Stein’s work and ‘Utopia Room’ by AOmaon Collective explored the mental and physical connections of our daily lives, exposing the inappropriate behaviours and absurdity of the codes imposed by the society.
The second half of the evening presented the commissioned and newly created work, ‘Cosmic Yoghurt’ inspired by Leonora Carrington’s work, choreographed by Roseanna Anderson and ‘Plague of Doubt’ by AOmaon Collective, activated by the pandemic, combining the comfort, pleasure and regret of the past with the instability, doubts and desires of the future.
As a part of the programme, on their arrival, choreographers held community workshops for our audiences to engage in and participated in a post-show Q&A.
Sunday 17 July 2022
Free 4 by 20 Dance Workshops (for 12+ year olds; all ability levels)
Young dancers explored movement and creativity with the 4 by 20 artists Roseanna Anderson and AOmaon Collectif, Olivia and Adélie.
Sunday 17 July 2022
This feature film marks a new level of creativity and story telling by Matsena Productions combining the language of dance, music and poetry.
Monday 18 July 2022
Conversations with previously featured choreographer Kennedy Muntanga, the artists chosen for ‘4 by 20’ emerging choreographer platform and James Bamford, the Founder and Artistic Director of south west based organisation Project Dance.
Friday 22 July 2022
A very limited and exclusive offer for our audiences to watch rehearsals of the renowned Alexander Whitley Dance Company.
Saturday 23 July 2022
An advance level contemporary dance class and from Alexander Whitley Dance Company. (age 16+)
Saturday 23 July 2022
The party followed the final performance of Anti-Body by Alexander Whitley.
Sunday 24 July 2022
Fun Dance Class for Under 12’s. Our teacher Gabi engaged the group in creative tasks and games to experience and enjoy dance.
The contemporary dance performance Greater than Lion choreographed by Kennedy Junior Muntanga premieres at Messums Wiltshire in September.
Muntanga is one of the most exciting new names in contemporary dance and follows in the footsteps of talented choreographers whose emergence has been supported by Messums Wiltshire.
Eight dancers took to the stage at Messums Wiltshire for a new performance ‘Geometry of Fear’ choreographed by our Performance Associate Anthony Matsena.
Anthony became our Performance Associate for 2019/20, the result of that process was a new work, made in response to the repercussions of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and uses – as its start point – the creative energy of Elisabeth Frink’s output and her recreated Woolland Studio, installed in the historic barn at Messums Wiltshire.
Anthony Matsena began dancing from a young age, training in hip-hop and street dance. His work was part of the Sadler’s Wells Young Associates programme ‘Together, not the same’ in 2019. He previously performed at Sadler’s Wells in 2015 as part of Apex Rising with National Youth Dance Wales and has performed professionally for Joseph Toonga as part of Just Us Dance Theatre.
His new work ‘When It Arrives’ looks at the process needed for the transformation of one from body and spirit to a free roaming spirit and is inspired by the words of James L.Hallenbeck, M.D.
“Death may arrive with a bang, but more often it comes quietly, without so much as a sigh. The moment of death is sacred in the deepest sense, and words do it no justice. It is a time to witness silently a passing.”
Ruby Portus is an NYDC Alumni and graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2017. Her work was part of the Sadler’s Wells Young Associates programme ‘Together, not the same’ in 2019. She previously performed in Home Turf and Elixir Festival 2017 at Sadler’s Wells and is currently completing her MA in Dance Performance at Northern School of Contemporary Dance as a member of Verve.
Ruby’s piece ‘Shall we just retire to the lake?’ is a satirical, glitzy, feminist, cabaret-style, physical theatre duet that smashes outdated ideas of what it means to ‘be a woman’, and offers new possibilities for us all to try on for size, whoever we are and however we identify.
Originally commissioned by Sadler’s Wells, London, as part of Young Associates Mixed Bill 2018, the piece was reworked specially for the tithe barn at Messums Wiltshire.
Furthering our connection with contemporary dance we presented a triple bill of works by the Alexander Whitley Dance Company, including the world première of Between Two Fires. A Sadler’s Wells New Wave Associate and former Choreographic Affiliate of The Royal Ballet, Alexander Whitley has developed a reputation for his bold interdisciplinary approach to dance making, producing technologically innovative and thought-provoking stage productions as well as exploring the creative possibilities being opened up by new digital platforms.
For this special weekend at Messums Wiltshire, Alexander returned to his roots with a triple bill of beautiful, stripped down contemporary dance works.
Russell Maliphant’s internationally renowned contemporary dance group commenced the series of exhibitions concerned with The Human Form. ‘Conceal | Reveal” was an evening of dazzling physical performance marking the ongoing collaboration between the award-winning Choreographer Russell Maliphant and Lighting Designer Michael Hulls. Together they have developed a unique and unparalleled language between movement and light that is acclaimed the world over. One of the first artists to see the space at Messums Wiltshire, Russell Maliphant’s response was immediate and powerful. The evening included Piece No.43, a quintet commissioned in 2015 for Conceal | Reveal with a score by Mukul and costumed by Stevie Stewart and the iconic work Two x Two.