A melting pot of movement, mindfulness and free-to-access culture will take over Hereford city on September 9th and 10th.
The legendary Ragroof Tea Dance and female-led Mimbre are both on the bill of Our City Moves, a brand new festival conceived and hosted by 2Faced Dance, the Hereford-based contemporary dance company who are no strangers to street performance themselves.
The event is infused with an ambition to combine community cohesion and the wellbeing benefits of movement with quality dance encounters.
It’s programmed by 2Faced Producer and Rehearsal Director Louis Parker-Evans, who has danced with 2Faced for 8 years and summed it up when he said: “It’s been community focused from the inception. It’s not just about groups who use our studio; we’ve got Hereford Yoga Centre, Starlight Dance Academy, Three Counties Dance Academy and others, bringing together dedicated practitioners from across Herefordshire to inspire connection and communication.
"Then we also wanted to highlight what's happening further afield so we’re bringing in companies like Mimbre, who are a London based female-led circus company.”
There’ll be a total 16 performances and 17 workshops over the weekend, all taking place within walking distance of each other across Trinity Square outside Maylords in High Town, Cathedral Close, and 2Faced studio at The Centre for Movement in Gaol Street.
It’s an event that re-establishes 2Faced’s intent to look ahead less than 12 months after they lost Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation funding.
After all the bellydancing, yoga, and tai chi the weekend will culminate with a pay-what-you-want dance that’s fairly legendary among dance festival planners and practitioners - the Ragroof Tea Dance from Round In Circles Productions, which features a DJ spinning vintage tunes, glam costumes, dance displays and their trademark gender-free approach which encourages everyone to take part. Tea and cake available, of course.
Rather than dwelling on why it’s taken this long for Hereford to host an outdoor dance festival when it feels like such an obvious fit, Louis knows the context within which Our City Moves sits, distilling it down to the decline of ticketed theatre shows and more money becoming available for outdoor performance.
“The whole model [of touring] has changed. It’s been a long, slow decline and Covid was the nail in the coffin. But we’ve always done outdoor work. Even when I first started we’d spend about half the year doing outdoor shows, doing the festivals, going to these smaller towns and cities.
“And as indoor touring has become more and more difficult, the outdoor touring circuit has been getting more funding from local authorities and, I think, a lot of companies are picking up on that now.”
When the festival ends Louis is bidding farewell to 2Faced and Hereford (“I’m going to chill out for a while”). Will he miss the theatre or the outdoor shows more?
Well there’s definitely something exciting about the performance when there is a barrier of darkness between you and the audience,” he said.
“But the opposite is also true. You can love both. There’s only a certain number of people who are buying an annual pass to Sadlers Wells. What you get from an outdoor performance is the ability to engage with audience members who maybe aren’t paying to be there. Maybe they don’t know what they’re about to see or maybe they’re even a little resistant to it. But you can engage them and play with them. You get to be a bit cheeky.”
You can catch Louis performing, cheekily, with 2Faced over the festival weekend. They’ll be staging their new show, Lungs of Our City, bringing back fan favourite Last Orders and leading a handful of workshops including a Wake and Shake Workshop which launches the festival at 11am on Saturday.
Our City Moves is a two day, free to access, dance and movement festival, taking place across the city of Hereford on Saturday, September 9th and Sunday, September 10th. Celebrating the joy of movement for everyone, the festival will offer a range of outstanding performances from leading UK dance artists, local community groups and a series of dance, movement, and wellbeing workshops. See more at www.2faceddance.co.uk/ourcitymoves.
The festival is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, Elmley Foundation, Hereford City Council and The Courtyard Arts Centre. With support from Creative Pathways and HVOSS.