Day: December 2, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival 2017 Announces Show Schedule

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The award-winning Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival (HBBF) returns for its fifth year in 2017 with another fun-packed four-day event

In March, the festival announced that they had been successful in a bid to secure funding from Arts Council England. Believed to be the first time that ACE has contributed to an event of this kind, the grant was used to fund an outstanding series of shows which featured local, UK and international talent including American superstar Perle Noire. At The Burlesque Awards in London this September, the festival was named the Best Festival/Event.

HBBF is now established as one of the highlights of the UK cabaret calendar and it is a shining light in the Yorkshire burlesque revolution which has seen brilliant new shows appear in Sheffield and Leeds. The 2017 festival will take place over 27-30 April 2017 and, while, the full-line up won’t be revealed for another couple of weeks, the veil has been lifted on the show schedule.

All shows will be at Hebden Bridge’s Little Theatre unless otherwise stated.


Thursday 

Turn up at 7.30pm for the latest Legend In The Making competition. This may be for newer performers but the talent levels among last year’s contestants were impressive and the bill featured an international cast; last year’s winner, boylesquer Uma Shadow, came all the way from Las Vegas and is coming all the way back to hand the crown onto the 2017 winner. The fun continues at 10.15pm with a new show called The Late Night Quickie, a dark and dangerous hour of envelope-pushing cabaret.

 

Friday

Get that Friday feeling at the 7.30pm show Laugh  Your Knickers Off Comedy Cabaret and then stick around for the return of one of last year’s absolute highlights Diversitease at 10.30pm.

 

Saturday

Kicking off at noon and back by popular demand is Tina T’urner Tea Lady with her own full-length solo show. That’s followed at 2.30pm by the much-anticipated debut by Kiki Lovechild and Pi The Mime. Kiki blew away last year’s audience with his moving and magical Sheets and he comes back with an award-winning London clown in the world premier of what is currently titled The Secret Circus Project By Kiki And Pi.

The biggest show of the weekend begins at 8pm when Todmorden Hippodrome is taken over for the Fifth Annual Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Gala. The line-ups have been spectacular in the past and we can’t wait to see who appears this time around.

 

Sunday

Sundays are for relaxing and roasts, right? Wrong. The Hebden Bridge Town Hall will be hosting The Burlesque Bazaar from 11am-5pm while at 2pm there will be (given the history of the festival) a very relevant round table discussion of feminism and the politics of burlesque performance called “I Am Woman – Hear Me Phwoar” (venue TBA).

The festival goes out with a blast from 8pm with The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival International Showcase.


A limited number of weekend passes covering access to all ten events are available at £85 each (a saving of £37 based on buying individual tickets). Please note that this offer is only available to those who have purchased a Friends’ Membership; the weekend passes go on general sale from 15 December. The full line-up will be announced on 11 December and day passes and tickets to the various workshops will be on sale from 1 January 2017. More information on how to become a Friend of The Hebden Bridge Festival and these passes can be found on the official website.


Circus Review: Bianco Is Pure Poetry And Aesthetic Wonder

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NoFit State Circus come to London with their acclaimed show Bianco for the final run of this immense performance piece.

Modern circus was invented in London and almost immediately it spread and evolved around the world quickly moving through Europe and reaching as far as China and Mexico in barely a few decades.

One explanation as to why it moved so rapidly is that, being essentially a non-verbal art form, companies could cross borders and amaze audiences in different countries in a way that theatre was largely unable to. NoFit State Circus – who unquestionably occupy the space of the UK’s leading circus company – having toured the world, now touch down in London to show how far we have come since then in a show that is both very contemporary and yet in subtle ways quite traditional.

Bianco is pure poetry and aesthetic wonder.

The Southbank Centre hasn’t enjoyed circus of this quality since Limbo and of the three big shows in town over Christmas this is by far the most exciting in terms of the circus. Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna misses just about every mark and, while La Soiree is cheeky, fun and full of variety, Bianco is pure poetry and aesthetic wonder.

There is no definite narrative, more a sense of competing voices, tableaus, and personalities all brought together through a shared visual identity. Performers soar above you and around you. The energy of the piece progresses through the intermingling of music, performance and visual symbols. There is a repeating theme of different personalities trapped within the performers.

Language is used in monologues, but in various languages – suggesting that the passion of the words and intonation is far more important than the coherent meaning of them. The language of Bianco is movement and it transcends speech. This is a piece to get lost in and to be amazed by.

The technicalities as beautiful as the theatrics. The rigging is a work of art, which is brought to the fore-front rather than being hidden away. The counter-balancers are as much a part of the show as the performers.

A scen from Bianco by NoFit State Circus @ Big Top, Southbank Centre. Directed by Firenza Guidi. (Opening 23-11-16) ©Tristram Kenton 11/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com
Bianco, Southbank Centre

This is an evolved show from the version seen almost four years ago at The Roundhouse and some of the performances feel very much like a continuation of Bianco’s earlier form, for example starting with Lyndall Merry on the swinging trapeze, or Augusts Dakteris wonderful straps finale routine.

Other aspects have also changed. Francois Bouvier on the tightrope is incredible – the most exciting performance on this apparatus I’ve ever seen. He skips, dances, twists and turns across two wires that cross each other. It really is wonderful and replaces an earlier tightrope performance that featured a girl in a red dress – an anomaly in a show where costume is largely made up of white and black – walking the rope in high heels, a cliché that has been vastly overused in productions over the last few years like Cirkopolis’s cyr wheel routine.

This is a show that proves that circus is an art form that can capture the essence of what it is to be human and alive.

This is a show that proves that circus is an art form that can capture the essence of what it is to be human and alive. After next January, NoFit State Circus plan on a year of making new work and Bianco will stop touring so this is the last chance to see this fantastic production. For those who missed out on Bianco at the Roundhouse back in 2013 – buy your tickets now, quickly, before you waste your money on overpriced mulled wine.

This Is Cabaret rating: ★★★★★

Appearing as part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival, Bianco continues until 22 January 2017. Tickets are £30-£39.50. Please see the official website for availability and show details.

All images: Tristram Kenton