Thousands dance on down to international celebration of culture

South Korea was represented through the festival programme.

South Korea was represented through the festival programme.

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Dancing in the deep end to routines before a care home residents drew in crowds of thousands as a celebration of culture marked its 52nd year.

Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance stuck to its traditions through its Parade of Nations and education workshops, with free events also put on alongside the ticketed performances.

Traditional dancing routines from North Cyrpus featured during the festival.

Traditional dancing routines from North Cyrpus featured during the festival.

In addition to shows held in venues across the area, organisers took dancers into the Stockton Lodge Care Home, Sheraton Care Home, Kirkdale nursing home and Allison House to ensure people of all ages were about to enjoy the festival.

The event was supported by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Arts Council England through its National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme.

Dance companies travelled from as far afield as Chile, Martinique, Mexico, North Cyprus, Russia, South Korea as well as the UK.

Landmark events included a sell-out performance of Synchronised, a music, Indian dancing and synchronised swimming spectacular by Balbir Singh Dance Company at Billingham Forum

Year-upon-year the Folklore Festival helps to reignite the regional heritage that builds on over 50 years of local tradition.

Joe Maloney

Swimming Pool.

More than 350 spectators crammed poolside to watch a showcase that had only been seen in a handful of venues up and down the land including London’s Southbank Centre after it was commissioned for the London 2012 Olympic Games, taking inspiration from Hollywood water musicals of Busby Berkeley.

There was also a premiere of Interrupted Souls, by Newcastle-based Eliot Smith Company, before almost 500 people at the Forum Theatre, choreographed by Lorenzo Pagano, a soloist dancer for The Martha Graham Dance Company.

More than 600 people also attended workshops over its run, with the team behind it already looking forward to next year’s event.

A cohort of dancers from Russia were among the talented groups which appeared at the festival.

A cohort of dancers from Russia were among the talented groups which appeared at the festival.

Festival director Joe Maloney said: “Year-upon-year the Folklore Festival helps to reignite the regional heritage that builds on over 50 years of local tradition.
“We have seen some old faces returning but these are coupled with some new audience members, young and old, who came along to enjoy dancing from across the varied nationals.”

People can look back on this year’s festival via www.billinghamfestival.co.uk or its Facebook page www.facebook.com/billinghamworlddancefestival and on Twitter @BillFest.

Dancers from Chilie perform for the crowds at Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance.

Dancers from Chilie perform for the crowds at Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance.

Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance's audience is entertained by dancers from Chilie.

Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance's audience is entertained by dancers from Chilie.

A vibrant show was put on by dancers from Martinique during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance.

A vibrant show was put on by dancers from Martinique during Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance.