Disabled and non-disabled dance company offers anniversary celebration in Brighton

Stine Nilsen    Pic by Pedro Machado
Stine Nilsen Pic by Pedro Machado

CounterActs, the new double bill from Candoco Dance Company, the world’s leading contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled performers, helps them celebrate their 25th birthday.

The show – which plays Brighton Dome Concert Hall on Friday, February 17 at 7.30pm – comes as part of their anniversary season which runs from last May to this.

For everyone involved, it’s a chance to reflect on all that the company has achieved in its first quarter of a century.

Candoco’s artistic co-director Stine Nilsen says: “The company has gone from 1991 being something that was extremely different and out there to working with mainstream names. When the company started, it was very unusual to have disabled and non-disabled dancers together, but now it has become much more usual, and I think the company has been instrumental in that, in making those changes happen in the UK but also around the world to the extent that now we are a flagship for the UK showcasing the best of the work that the UK has produced in terms of work with disabled and non-disabled dancers.

“Around the world there are many people looking to the UK for work created by disabled artists.”

The success of Britain’s Paralympic team is part of the wider context, Stine believes: “Maybe there is something about the UK culture. London has attracted quite a variety of styles in terms of artists, and there is always a lot of interest.

“We travel a lot with the British Council, countries like Mexico and the Philippines and India, and there are a lot of places where general disabled access is quite limited. To show what disabled artists can achieve really helps make people think, and it brings out different aspects to what we can do.”

But there is also work within Europe: “Places like Scandinavia and Germany are places that are very far ahead with disabled access, but in terms of disabled arts they are quite far behind. We are now doing quite a lot of work in Sweden.”

As for the show coming to Brighton, CounterActs presents commissions from two of the most exciting artistic talents working in the UK.

Following a critically-acclaimed UK tour in autumn 2014, Hetain Patel’s Let’s Talk About Dis returns to the stage with a mischievous piece that interrogates questions of what identity is and how it is formed.

“With seductive charm, Hetain challenges audiences to think beyond surface appearances, exposing hidden prejudices and absurd political correctness.”

Completing the double bill, Alexander Whitley offers his new commission Beheld.

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