Northern Ireland’s annual disabled and deaf arts festival ‘bounces’ into Belfast this month with ten days of entertaining and thought-provoking dance, theatre, visual art, physical theatre, film, cabaret and a range of workshops.
The sixth Bounce Festival opens in great voice on September 27 on the grounds of Belfast City Hall with the ‘Big Bouncy Hummm of Harmony’ – a gloriously positive joining together of three choirs – the award-winning Open Arts Community Choir fresh back from triumph in Latvia the Alzheimer’s Society’ Singing for the Brain and Sing for Life from Cancer Focus and the Crescent Arts Centre.
Chris Ledger, CEO of the Arts and Disability Forum, which runs the annual festival said Bounce! was growing in stature and influence every year so the decision was taken by the trustees to extend it from four days to ten days. This year’s festival will see a packed schedule of performances, exhibitions and, by public demand, more arts workshops.
She said: “In its six years, Bounce! has become an internationally recognised celebration of the work of talented disabled and deaf artists. Bounce! is this island’s most disability accessible annual festival. We have a superb line-up of European, UK and NI disabled artists. We can’t wait to get started!”
Bounce! is supported by the National Lottery funding through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, said: “Bounce Festival celebrates work by exceptional artists from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the UK, who are deaf or disabled. Now in its sixth year there are many ways to get involved, with visual arts, theatre, dance and free workshops all on offer. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support this wonderful festival and I would encourage everyone to go along.”
Headlining the festival are two keenly anticipated performances by two exceptionally talented female dancers, Northern Ireland’s Helen Hall and Scotland’s Claire Cunningham.
The opening show features the UK premiere of the beautiful ‘Inside the Speaker’ by local dancer and choreographer Helen Hall, who has received a commission from the UK-wide Unlimited scheme with Spirit of 2012.
Helen, who is visually impaired, invites the audience to experience dance and music differently, by entering into the world she inhabits.
Claire Cunningham, the internationally renowned Scottish dancer and choreographer, is making her second appearance at Bounce!. She was the star of the first festival back in 2012. ‘Give me a Reason to Live’ is a powerfully physical, emotional and visually striking work, exploring religious art and the judgment of souls and bodies. This show will close the festival.
Other highlights include:
- ‘Four Corners’ a lively and exciting piece of inclusive theatre from Blink Dance Theatre on Saturday, September 30. Travelling to NI from England after a sell-out tour, this troupe of dancers some with learning difficulties, weave together a compelling show of dance, live music and storytelling.
- The festival features two films – Ken Loach’s award-winning ‘I Daniel Blake’ which touches on disability and welfare reform – and the UK premiere of ‘Defiant Lives’ about disability activism, featuring disabled artists from Britain, the US and Australia, including Liz Carr who plays Clarissa in Silent Witness.
- The UK premiere of local contemporary dance group, Blue Chevy’s ‘Rubik’s Cube Messy Dimensions’ explores mental health issues experienced by young disabled artist Nikki McLaughlin.
- Luminous Soul and the Open Arts Community Choir will present a celebratory evening of music and dance at the Crescent Arts Centre on 29 September.
- The UK premiere of ‘Grotesque’ – a visual arts and performance piece by Greek performance artist Katerina Fanouraki, focusing on breaking down stereotypes and challenging social, ethical and sexual conventions.
- The ‘Big Bouncy Cabaret Party’ with MC and raconteur Julie McNamara will see Caroline Parker using physical theatre skills to present well-known recorded songs such as Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in sign, dance and mime. The night includes sign song guest slots for local deaf divas.
- This year, ADF has formed a new partnership with Fleming Fulton school and the festival will include ‘The Journey’ an exhibition of selected work from the students, displayed at the Crescent Arts Centre. There is also an exhibition celebrating 25 years of Open Arts, presented at the MAC, Belfast.
This year’s venues include the ADF Gallery, Brian Friel Theatre, Crescent Arts Centre, Spectrum Centre, the MAC and City Hall.
The full programme, with links to ticketing and more in depth information on the artists is available via the Arts & Disability Forum website, www.adf.ie. Event links can also be found on Facebook @artsanddisabilityforum. Or call by in person to the ADF Gallery on Royal Avenue, tel 028 90239 450 email firstname.lastname@example.org.