MDI champions Liverpool talent at LEAP 2018

MDI champions Liverpool talent at LEAP 2018

by Culture Liverpool

Merseyside-based dancers and companies will take centre stage at Liverpool’s premier dance festival, opening at The Capstone Theatre.

A host of performers from across the Liverpool City Region will present exciting and thought-provoking new and classic work during LEAP Dance Festival, from 2 November.

Local talent will share the festival stage with some of the most inventive contemporary dance companies and choreographers from the UK and abroad, and this year takes inspiration from the suffrage movement, marking the centenary of some women gaining the right to vote with a focus on female performers.

LEAP 2018 produced by MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative), runs from 2-12 November at various venues across Liverpool Hope’s Creative Campus in Everton, along with a closing performance at the Epstein Theatre, supported by Liverpool ONE as principal sponsor.

 Shake It Up! Youth Dance Showcase, at the Capstone Theatre on Sunday 4 November features 10 dance groups, mostly from Merseyside, including West Derby-based Adam Brown Dance Company, Complete Works from Wirral, and Swati Youth Dance – a South Asian dance company based locally.

13 intergenerational women from Liverpool, including Jennie Hale, Mary Prestidge and Paula Hampson star in Gaby Agis’ iconic 80s piece Shouting Out Loud on Monday 5 November with a soundtrack by seminal punk band The Raincoats. Agis also performs alongside Eeva-Maria Mutka in a reworking of Close Streams, an intensely physical duet.

Director, choreographer and performer Jo Fong presents An Invitation at the Warehouse Studio Theatre on Tuesday 6 November, working with dancers including Liverpool John Moores graduate Rowena Gander, who is based in the city.

In a tale about the passing of time and the temporal workings of the body, Australia-based choreographer Liz Lea brings members of MDI’s 50 Moves class (for dancers over the age of 50) on stage as part of RED on Wednesday 7 November, inviting the audience to get in touch with their mischievous inner self.

Meanwhile, Northern Dance Platform is a collection of work by female artists from the North, presented on Wednesday 7 November. Dance artists Andrea Buckley (Wirral) and taciturn (Liverpool) question space, identity and the sharing of individual stories alongside Edinburgh-based Claricia Parinussa (Edinburgh).

Each with their own distinct contemporary style, these pieces combine original and thought-provoking choreography, with taciturn’s Façade featuring the company’s trademark dark humour to interrogate how easily we fool ourselves into ignoring everyday problems.

Jenny Rees of Liverpool-based dance company taciturn said: “LEAP gives Liverpool artists the chance to be seen on stage alongside national and international artists.

“It’s often the only opportunity to show our work in the city, as a lot of companies taking part in the festival would not ordinarily come to Liverpool’s theatres. They might go to Manchester or Storyhouse at Chester instead.

 “LEAP takes that risk, giving Liverpool audiences the enriching opportunity of seeing these amazing dance companies”.

In North West Seen: Part 1, at the Warehouse Studio on Friday 9 November, LEAP 2018 presents a selection of new works and work-in-progress tackling topical and provocative themes.

Baba Yaga (Liverpool-based duo of Aline Costa and Martin Shead) present The Whispers which enacts the awakening of a woman, full of light, beauty and joy, to the objectification of the female body and the pressures of a world dominated by men and oppressed by stereotypes.

Kate Jackson will present a solo work exploring international terrorism and forms of supporting and harnessing the radical ability we have within us to survive and recover, and Paula Hampson will close the bill with Holding Light, an improvised dance exploration reflecting on moments drawn from her work with Kinship carers in Liverpool.

North West Seen: Part 2 follows on Saturday 10, November as Vicci Riley – who studied her MA at LIPA – presents Herring Girls, a piece of contemporary dance theatre in development. The work brings to life the stories, images, physical labour and camaraderie of the herring girls; women who travelled around the coast to gut and salt the fish.

Bridging movement and voice, Riley has created improvised scores for the performers to work together and to include light, sound, visuals and objects evoking broader themes of female interdependence, fishing, migration and food cultures.

Both evenings are supported by The Leche Trust.

Finally, ViTAL! returns for the third time, featuring work from MDI’s own 50 Moves and Men!Dancing! as well as invited groups and artists from across Southport and Knowsley. Taking place at the Capstone Theatre on Sunday 11 November, the event celebrates the continued need for movement and expression as we age – a topical issue given the cuts to funding for traditional wellbeing practice.

MDI Artistic Director Karen Gallagher MBE said: “I’m genuinely proud at how much of the programme is supported by the inclusion of local people. Gaby Agis’s Shouting Out Loud involves a number of Merseyside performers, and Jo Fong’s work includes the very talented Rowena Gander. In addition, Liz Lea is working with members of our older dancing groups. And we have Shake It Up! and Vital showcases which have a strong Merseyside presence.

“This is really important to us and celebrates our inclusivity.”

 LEAP is one of the most anticipated dance festivals, bringing 10 days of exclusive dance to the Liverpool City Region.

LEAP 2018 coincides with the 25th anniversary of Merseyside Dance Initiative, one of the UK’s leading strategic dance agencies and which programmes the festival.

LEAP 2018 is also part of the #Liverpool2018 celebrations which mark 10 years since the city received the prestigious 2008 Capital of Culture title. Each production in the festival will be making their Liverpool debut meaning this is the perfect opportunity for audiences to experience never-before-seen performances.

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Shake It Up! Youth Dance Showcase

Capstone Theatre

Date: Sun 4 November

Time: 5pm

Tickets: £7.50/£6.50


Gaby Agis: Shouting Out Loud

The Great Hall, Liverpool Hope Creative Campus

Date: Mon 5 November

Time: 4pm

Tickets: £7.50/£6.50


Jo Fong: An Invitation

The Warehouse Studio Theatre

Date: Tue 6 November

Time: 2pm & 6pm

Tickets: £9.50/£7.50


Liz Lea: RED

The Warehouse Studio Theatre

Date: 7 November

Time: 6pm

Tickets: £9.50/£7.50


Northern Dance Platform

Capstone Theatre

Date: Wed 7 November

Time: 8pm

Tickets: £11.50/£9.50


North West Seen: Part 1

The Warehouse Studio Theatre, Hope University Creative Campus

Date: Fri 9 November

Time: 7pm

Tickets: £9.50/£7.50


North West Seen: Part 2

The Warehouse Studio Theatre, Hope University Creative Campus

Date: Sat 10 November

Time: 7pm

Tickets: £9.50/£7.50



Capstone Theatre

Date: Sun 11 November

Time: 6pm

Tickets: £7.50/£6.50


Tickets & Information

Image Credit: Alan D Smith

Tickets can be purchased via TicketQuarter on

For full information on the festival please visit


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