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Key Artistic Partnerships
Past Festival Artists
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Stilt-Art pros; Oakleaf Creativity produce an array of dazzling figures for carnivals and parties including Mythical creatures and Aeroplanes.
For the last 20 years, under co-director Charles Beauchamp and Julieta Rubio, Mandinga Arts has designed and created award-winning giant puppets, costumes, masks and floats for carnivals, festivals, community projects and theatre. The company has collaborated with circus, carnival, dance and community groups in England, Ireland, France, Italy, Colombia, Cuba, South Africa and China.
Paraíso is the only samba organisation in Europe whose artistic direction is led by artists who grew up in the Rio de Janeiro samba community and whose style and operating structure closely follows the authentic Brazilian School of Samba model. Paraiso has been a key part of the of Night of Festivals since 2010 and at each event is guaranteed to attract huge enthusiastic crowds who always respond to the beats, the songs and the exuberant and exotic dance that Paraiso brings to the streets.
Stilt art of a special kind Whether graceful flower princesses, playful dragon rider, beguiling mermaids, naughty Flamingos or cosmic birds - Stelzen Arts has a diverse repertoire of extraordinary costume creations.
Lea Rasovszky was born in 1986 and lives and works in Bucharest. Her creative practice focuses on her critical view of the stereotypes and values of society. For Night of Festivals SPECIAL EDITION Leicester, Lea's innovative artwork "Be the Change" featured as part of the Plinth Project. Her work will also be exhibited in our FREEDOM project events in 2016.
Born in Lage/Westfalen, Germany in 1965, Petra Kilian is a practicing freelance artist with a background in costume design, which is evident in her textile based works. Through her artwork Petra explores socio-political themes alongside issues from contemporary history. She combines elements of traditional handwork and sewing with modern materials. For Night of Festivals Leicester & the FREEDOM project, Petra's artwork entitled "knot" & "ILMGP" features as part of the Plinth Project.
Georgi Leontiev Balabanov was born in 1970 in the town of Gabrovo, Bulgaria. He is a graduate of The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Since graduation Balabanov has exhibited both his sculptural and 2D works widely, winning an array of awards in his native Bulgaria. For Night of Festivals SPECIAL EDITION Leicester, Georgi's "Society of the Spectacle" featured as part of the Plinth Project. His work will also be exhibited in our FREEDOM project events in 2016.
Mike Payton has been a professional storyteller for eight years, providing shows and workshops for schools, clubs and festivals throughout the UK. Mike was Lancastrian born, but is now based in Nottingham, drawing his tales from Britain’s rich heritage and also from the four corners of the earth. His delivery is warm and engaging, and he has a penchant for the strange and unexplainable. Children of all ages (and adults too) will love Mike’s brand of storytelling.
Kinetika Artistic Director, Ali Pretty, renowned for her exceptional textile design as part of major events (including the Atlanta Olympics, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Paralympics London Closing Ceremony) customised a 40 metre length of silk with special designs complementing the Night of Festivals theme.
Sambando is an experienced and talented Leicester based Samba Band. With its high-energy acoustic dance music, Sambando is set to bring a local but authentic Brazilian carnival atmosphere.
A Nottingham based percussion band; Sabar Soundsystem, play an exhilarating, exotic mix of African, South American and Asian dance beats. Their relentless, high-energy performances provide the ideal soundtrack to carnivals, festivals and events.
Kinetika are a not-for-profit outdoors arts company who engage with communities to encourage participation in the arts through workshops, training schemes and community engagement. Kinetika have a network of talented, professional artists ranging from textile designers and painters to choreographers and live performers.
ACDarts is a world music and dance group that specialises in both contemporary and traditional African music with an emphasis on East Africa.
An established bhangra dance group, 4 x 4 Bhangra has brought its performances of traditional folk bhangra and bhangra fusion with dhol drummers and singers to various locations around the world; in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. 4 x 4 Bhangra is also acclaimed for its youth outreach programme which includes delivering workshops and also running a free membership Youth Club.
The Kinetika Bloco is a performance group made up of young musicians and dancers, performing unique British carnival in costume, influenced by New Orleans jazz, Funk, Hip Hop and World music influences ranging from West and Southern Africa to Brazil to the Caribbean. In the past few years Kinetika Bloco have performed at the 2008 Olympic Cultural Festival, London Jazz Festival, Thames Festival, The South Bank, and the Unveiling of the Nelson Mandela Statue at Parliament Square.
Richard Layzell is a London-based artist affiliated to ResCen at Middlesex University. His work in performance, video and installation – and with industry and communities – has been recognised internationally. He is currently collaborating with Tania Koswycz on The Manifestation, a major new installation for galleries. He is the author of The Artists Directory, Live Art in Schools, Enhanced Performance and Cream Page.
Rhythms of the City
Under Artistic & Musical Director, Barak Schmool, RoTC perform at carnivals and festivals across Europe - including; Notting Hill, Thames Festival, WOMAD, Glastonbury Festival, the Big Chill, Lovebox, Wireless, Pride and the Great British carnival events. Each year at Night of Festivals Rhythms can be seen in a different guise….performing on top of a milk float, riding in a rickshaw or simply roaming the street to accompany an extraordinary band of costumed performers and giant puppets.
Springboard East provides drama workshops, interactive theatre and theatre in education programmes. Its latest production is a work of interactive theatre aimed at primary school children called ‘Everett Mann in Destination Democracy’. In this production the lead character is transported back in time to learn about key events in the development of parliament and democracy in the UK, including the Suffragette movement. The show will be seen at Night of Festivals events in Barking and Leicester.
A comedian and comic strip creator, Kev Sutherland has drawn for various publications including The Beano and Marvel comics. Kev has also produced shows for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe such as The Sitcom Trials and The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre. Kev will be contributing to this year’s Night of Festivals by working with children and young people in Lincoln and Barking to create The Freedom Comic which will explore the themes of democracy and freedom.
Rez Kabir is an actor, storyteller, drama tutor and also the artistic director of Tamarind Theatre Co. Rez performs stories in English but also incorporates other languages such as Bengali into his performances and features elements of both traditional and modern sources. Rez uses music, movement, mime and puppetry to create layered and visually engaging pieces.
Chris Redmond and Riaan Vosloo created the spoken word performance night, ‘Tongue Fu’ in 2007 by bringing together poets, musicians and an audience with no rehearsals or preparation, just an organic experiment in improvised art.
Haymanot (an Ethiopian singer), Arian (an Egyptian ney flute, kawala flute and oud player) and Mina (an Iranian daf and tonbak drummer) all combine their various musical styles and influences for a unique and harmonic World Music performance.
A band comprised of members from various different nations from Angola to Zimbabwe, NGOMA plays a versatile range of music incorporating Afro ethnic rhythms and Western styles in its performances
Anjali Dance Company
Anjali Dance Company provides both vibrant dance performances, and professional dance training. The ethos of Anjali Dance is to empower learning-disabled artists by supporting their creative and professional development.
A traditional Turkish band whose music fuses Balkan fanfare dynamism with the ‘blues’ depth of Anatolian influences. The band features gayda (Bulgarian bagpipes), clarinet, saxophone, accordion, tuba, percussions, and drums. The voice of Asli Dogan adds an emotional intensity to the band’s music.
Three the Hard Way
Jean Binta Breeze, Shruti Chauhan, and Lydia Towsey launched Three the Hard Way – Part One in 2014, and following this success were awarded funding for Part Two by Arts Council England. Three the Hard Way derives from Jamaican culture where DJs would respond to each others’ sets in collaboration and competition. The idea was adopted by UK dub poets in the early 80s. Part Two will once again re-appropriate this format, exploring contemporary women’s issues, politics, culture and diversity.
Alinah Azadeh is a British Iranian artist whose work, Freedom Square (pictured above), was commissioned for Night of Festivals Touring 2013-2014 and is a textile based participative work, comprising up to 1,500 multi-coloured flags installed against the white canvas of the Night of Festivals Touring Performance Dome. The title of the work ‘Freedom Square’ references the use of cloth in protests for freedom and democracy in the Middle- East.
Drummer extraordinaire and multi-instrumentalist composer; Sandeep Raval’s musical styles range from jazz to Indian classical influences to a more experimental and alternative sound. He has also contributed to the production of musicals such as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Bombay Dreams’.
Green Candle Dance Company
Providing both, dance theatre productions, and instructional workshops, Green Candle Dance Company seeks to utilise the art-form of dance to improve people’s health and wellbeing, integrate marginalised groups into their local community and explore social issues such as isolation and discrimination. Recent productions include ‘No Fear!’ and ‘Falling About’: dance theatre productions that deal with the themes of fear and failure respectively, in a humorous and light-hearted way.
A vocalist, composer and actor; Najma Akhtar is a leading figure in the World Music scene. Najma’s music is a versatile blend of Eastern and Western influences as her performances and compositions interweave modern jazz influences with Indian classical music. Najma’s work has featured a wide variety of cultural influences including the use of traditional Persian and African instruments. Najma’s voice and composed works can also be heard in a variety of motion pictures.
London Tango Orchestra
The London Tango Orchestra was founded by Caroline Pearsall in 2009 and is the first of its kind in the UK. Their love of Tango music is expressed through live concerts, milongas, workshops, and cultural exchanges between musicians from Argentina and Europe. They have performed at Chelsea Arts Club, Ignite Concert Series at the Royal Albert Hall, the City Festival of London and various Tango festivals in Europe, and also made appearances on TV; in a BBC documentary on Tango and in Mr Selfridge.
Wendy Shearer is a professional storyteller who has previously worked as an interactive producer for children’s television. Performing in schools, children’s centres and public venues, Wendy uses props, illustrations and music to complement her oral storytelling for both children and adults.
A Slough based group formerly known as Nate Musiq. Featuring musical styles ranging from Soul and R&B to Jazz and Reggae.
Natural Theatre Company
Natural Theatre creates comic interactive street theatre, combining character comedy with surreal scenarios. Natural Theatre has performed in over 80 countries, picking up many international awards along the way, performing in busy streets, festivals, corporate events or to mark special occasions such as birthdays or weddings.
Award winning Namibian musician Erna Chimu’s compelling music is a unique blend of traditional Namibian sounds from her Damara-Nama cultural heritage, combined with smooth modern jazz overtones. The band is travelling to the UK especially to perform in Leicester, and will provide the perfect cultural complement to the Namibian Rugby team, who play on the 11th October.
Led by the Canadian singer/songwriter Kenton Hall, the contemporary pop/rock band ist’s distinctive sound (featured on several albums) jumps across genres – from ska to jazz to classical.
2 Magpies Theatre is a theatre production company specialised in devising live performances for unique site-responsive locations such as restaurants and motorway underpasses! Its latest production; ‘The Litvinenko Project’ explores the mysterious and controversial circumstances surrounding the death of Alexander Litvinenko; a fugitive officer of the Russian FSB secret service. The show will be seen in Barking at Night of Festivals.
Nottingham based group, Muha is comprised of members from Ukraine, Lativa and the UK and their diverse cultural influences are reflected in the diversity of the band’s music. Muha play an eclectic mix of Eastern European folk, North Indian Kathak rhythms, Cuban beats and Western European influences. The music features original lyrics ranging from Hindi to Old Russian and modern Ukrainian.
Beats of Polynesia
Night of Festivals Leicester marked the Tongan contingent at the the Rugby World Cup by showcasing traditional Polynesian music and dance! Five dancers and three musicians comprise this exciting group that will present a mxi of the rhythms and beats of Polynesia from Tonga to Tahiti!
Night of Festivals SPECIAL EDITION Leicester enjoyed the smooth sounds of Leicester’s own Jazz Band, KGB. With a great line up of vocals, guitar, bass, sax and flute, KGB brought an exciting blend of jazz standards alongside toe-tapping swing and Latin.
The group Atis Rezistans is based in the makeshift car repair/graveyard of Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Two members of the group – Andre Eugène and Celeur Jean Herard were commissioned as part of Night of Festivals 2012 and took up a residency in Nottingham to create a new sculptural installation. The result was Queen Erzulie! She has looked over every Night of Festivals since.
David Hindmarch is a blind composer who taught himself basic piano skills as well as the rudiments of Electro-Acoustic music. For Night of Festivals he was commissioned by ArtReach to create a sound installation entitled Beyond the Cities Calling for which he created a picture of sound & music depicting the lives of people within two distinctive cities, Leicester and Cairo.
Gilles headlined Night of Festivals 2012 with a DJ set. His broadcasting roots lie with the burgeoning pirate radio movement in South London during the early 1980s. He set up his own – Civic Radio – and then succeeded in bagging himself a slot on Invicta in exchange for his fully-functioning transmitter. With his foot firmly wedged in the door, Gilles went on to present on a string of pirate stations – KJAZZ, Solar Radio and On Horizon, before landing at BBC London with his show Mad On Jazz.
Witnesses, a 20 minute, experimental moving image piece from acclaimed composer Michael Nyman is a must see in the ArtReach Nanoplex at Night of Festivals. As one of Britain’s most innovative and celebrated composers, Michael Nyman’s work encompasses operas and string quartets, film soundtracks and orchestral concertos. Far more than merely a composer, he’s also a performer, conductor, bandleader, pianist, author, musicologist and now a photographer and film-maker.
Rachael is a performance maker, writer, director and Co Artistic Director of First Floor Theatre based in the East Midlands. For Night of Festivals Rachael performed 'The Way I Wear My Hair' - What does it mean to be a strong black women? Rachael wasn’t sure so she asked Google and guess what it showed her…
Romani Voice is a four piece ensemble (three musicians and dancer), based in London, that performs traditional Roma folk music and dance, with the aim to share Roma culture. The ensemble is guided by the Roma Support Group (http://romasupportgroup.org.uk/), a registered charity working with East European Roma refugees and migrants.
Ery’s moving image piece Dambudzo was screened in the ArtReach Nanoplex at Night of Festivals Touring 2013-14. The piece is based on the acceptance speech of author Dambudzo Marechera at the Guardian Fiction Awards November 1979. Ery also writes and directs for his production company Maliza Productions as well as working as a freelance actor, write and director in London.
Laura Belém lives and works in Brazil and studied a Masters in Fine Arts at Central St Martins College of Art, London. She is quickly gaining an international reputation for her work having shown at 51st Venice Biennale and Prague Biennale. Laura Belém’s interactive art installation Night of St John was a site-specific commission for Night of Festivals 2010. It led the audience to the Festival Hub, beneath a shimmering sea of 745 flags, accompanied by an audio montage of festival sounds.
Folk in a Box (Dom Coyote)
Folk in a Box is the UK’s smallest performance venue. You enter the box by crouching through a small, arched Alice-in-Wonderland door and then grope your way to a chair. Apart from one tiny pinpoint of intense light, the cabin’s interior, lined with serge curtain, is pitch-black. Opposite, only a foot or so away, sits an invisible unknown somebody with a guitar. The experience is compelling.
Zoë Keating is a one-woman orchestra. She uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer of cello, creating intricate, haunting and compelling music. Zoë has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists, including Imogen Heap, Amanda Palmer, Tears for Fears, DJ Shadow, John Vanderslice, Rasputina, Pomplamoose and Paolo Nutini.
Stephen Jon immersed the City Arts Dome with the heroic tale The Maid of Mariposa. Inspired by the arts of Latin America his installation piece encompasses live action and shadow puppetry to enact the tale of our heroine’s adventures against monsters on land and sea
The Storytelling Cafe
Matlock Storytelling Cafe is one of the most successful and best loved storytelling clubs in the country. Founded in 2003 it has a loyal local audience and an increasing number of fans from further afield. The resident tellers, Mike Payton, Rachel Murray and Helen Appleton all have years of experience, and their contrasting styles and tastes in tales make their monthly nights thrilling occasions. At Night of Festivals you'll find these guys in the Storytelling Yurt!
United Vibrations are: Ahmad Dayes (Trombone & Vocals), Wayne Francis (Saxophone & Vocals), Yussef Dayes (Drums & Vocals), Kareem Dayes (Bass & Vocals) and YOU (Participant, Listener, Observer and Creator). Any linear perceptions of ‘genre’ or ‘style’ do the band’s sound no justice, so they call it 12Tone. Inspired by Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and other great musicians, United Vibrations has sought ways to make the music it makes a part of a greater movement.
Conjunto Sabroso is one of the UK’s most established and popular Latin bands. Renowned for its authentic swing and lively presence on stage, the band is fronted by charismatic Colombian singer Luz Elena Caicedo, under the musical direction of renowned multi-percussionist Wilmer Sifontes from Venezuela. The band has brought together some of the most outstanding and experienced musicians in the Latin circuit, to produce its own distinctive and original sound.
Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo
Hailing from Bridgetown, Western Australia, Emily Barker is a compelling songwriter with a gift for weaving melody and words. Her talent is perfectly complemented by the magnificent arrangements of her band The Red Clay Halo, whose rootsy, ensemble playing underpins Barker’s agile vocal blend of strength and fragility. The group played on the main stage at Night of Festivals 2012.
Rara Lakay is a traditional Haitian Rara band, with some of the members now based in Miami. The band plays at carnival and festival events using its mixture of bamboo trumpets (vaksen), cornets metal bells and drums. In 2012 the troupe were in residence in Nottingham delivering workshops in schools and with community groups. It then led a Rara procession as part of the Night of Festivals 2012 carnival.
Voice is a unique, London based a cappella trio that explores a wide repertoire, performing works by Hildegard of Bingen and other early masters; traditional songs and arrangements from around the world; as well as contemporary compositions. For Night of Festivals the group shared a programme entitled Megaphones for the Unheard, which explores the voice for women through music and poetry.
In 2012 the festival hosted Fofoulah. The group features members of Outhouse Ruhabi, from the acclaimed Outhouse project, with Wolof drummers from The Gambia. The Melting pot of Fofoulah’s ever changing ideas has culminated in a joyful blend of African praise song and polyrhythm, cool grooves and jumpy melodies. Whilst continuing to explore the influence of West African rhythms, Fofoulah’s creative vision embraces each individual member’s musical personalities,