Commissioned by the Mayor of London, the UK’s foremost outdoor arts festival features world premiere commissions as well as international work being seen in the UK for the first time. It runs from Thursday 3 August to Sunday 20 August 2006, with performances every Thursday to Sunday each week. All performances are free and everyone is welcome to attend.
As well as UK artists, there are performers from Spain, Australia, France, Cameroon and Canada in an innovative and colourful programme of live performance and street theatre, which has been designed to make the fullest possible use of the landmark public space.
Performers include Cathy Marston from the Royal Ballet and Jonzi D from Sadler’s Wells; performance artists Marisa Carnesky and Asian dance company Akademi; plus international companies such as Strange Fruit from Australia, Ramon Kelvink from France and Catherine Leger from Canada.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone said: ‘Trafalgar Square has become one of the city’s most vibrant open spaces and provides an unrivalled backdrop for live performances. When the spectacular Sultan’s Elephant visited the capital in May, London experienced the unique buzz and excitement that street theatre brings. The Trafalgar Square Festival builds on this, with an exceptional range of work that will be a highlight of our summer events programme. We want Londoners, as well as tourists, to see at least one performance during the festival, which is intended to dazzle and make you look at the city with fresh eyes.’
Building on the success last year’s thematically based festival, this year’s programme focuses on the concept of a “City on the Move”. The idea will be used to explore the energy and vitality of the capital expressed through its diverse communities, the processes that have transformed it into the city it is today, and its future direction and possibilities.
In the first week, the focus is on exploring processes of development, migration and change with “Evolving City”. In the second week, there is a shift towards considering the socio-economic mechanisms at work in the city with “Turning City”. Week three will bring the festival to an exuberant climax with “Rising City”. This takes on an aspirational approach expressed literally through aerial performance as well as with work by diverse communities and young people.
Highlights during the first week include: Mass Carib by London based music theatre company Nitro, which recounts the story of slavery and the forcible conversion of African people to Christianity; Spheres by Australian dance company Strange Fruit, which combines sculptural installation and circus to create an entrancing piece inspired by ocean journeys and humanity’s relationship with the planet; and a performance installation by Marisa Carnesky exploring Jewish migration to the East End in the context of the 350th anniversary of the resettlement of Jewish people in Britain.
The second week includes Awaz a new piece by London based dance theatre company Akademi, which focuses on the working lives of Asian women in London; Jarrow by musical theatre company The Shout by which references the Jarrow March, a historic moment in UK labour history. Leading Royal Ballet choreographer Cathy Marston has also created a new piece of contemporary ballet Spell for Trafalgar Square. The piece takes inspiration from the music of Nina Simone with a series of short vignettes coming together for a final sensual ensemble piece.
The final week will see new work by pioneering London based aerial dance theatre company Upswing, which combines bungee choreography with hip hop moves in collaboration with choreographer Jonzi D.
Duo du Haut, featuring French circus artist Ramon Kelvink and Canadian Catherine Leger performing complex choreography on two poles 40 metres above the ground, virtually at eye level with Nelson himself, will be a breath-taking performance accompanied by live opera from the Northern Terrace balcony.
Spanish and Argentinean performers from Grupo Puja will also be performing K@osmos. Metaphorically exploring molecular physics with a spherical ball structure suspended high over the heads of audiences, this promises to be one of the most spectacular performances of this year’s festival.