Greenwich + Docklands International Festival announces ‘Resurgam’, a spectacular dance on the façade of St Paul’s Cathedral
A spectacular fusion of dance and architecture RESURGAM will take place on the façade of St Paul’s Cathedral, London’s best known landmark. BANDALOOP, the Californian based company known for its innovation in vertical performance, have been granted rare access to St Paul’s to create a site-responsive piece, fusing intricate mid-air choreography with rock climbing techniques and original music. This eventual so celebrates the 300-year anniversary of the cathedral’s architect Sir Christopher Wren who also has a strong connection to Greenwich, where he designed both the Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Observatory.
The world premiere has been co-produced and co-commissioned by Greenwich + Docklands International Festival and the City of London Corporation as part of its2023 Bartholomew Fair event. It is part of the City Corporation’s Destination City programme, which sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.
Thomas Cavanagh, BANDALOOP Executive Director says: “It is an honor to be premiering RESURGAM on the south-side exterior of St Paul’s Cathedral for London audiences who we invite to look up; at hope, at what is possible and at the grand harmony between vertical dance, living history and extraordinary architecture. BANDALOOP has toured the world performing on skyscrapers and UNESCO heritage sites, but this London premiere is a one-of-a-kind celebration of place, an aerial dream in realtime.”
Bradley Hemmings MBE, GDIF Artistic Director says “We’re thrilled to be able to offer audiences this stunning and timely exploration of the word RESURGAM(I Will Rise) which is inscribed beneath the phoenix carved onto the south transept of St Paul’s. Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece has always stood as an icon of hope for Londoners and the festival is humbled to be delivering this extraordinary site specific event, as a contemporary reflection on the way in which hope can sustain us through difficult times”
Greenwich + Docklands International Festival’s full 2023 programme, showcases world-class theatre, art installations, spectacle and dance in locations across London. More than35 events, including two world premieres and14UK premieres, are inspired by the theme Acts of Hope, inviting Londoners to come together for uplifting moments of shared wonder and connection.
French high-wire walker Tatiana-Mosio Bongonga opens GDIF 2023 on Friday 25 August with OPEN LINES, a heart-stopping tight-rope walk above Woolwich. She will be supported by 12 local people who will hold and help suspend the ropes on which this performance takes place in a breath taking act of participation at the launch of this year’s festival, enshrining this year’s theme of Acts of Hope. This spectacular opening production from the French company Basinga, is part of Woolwich Lates which is supported by Berkley Group, the Mayor of London’s Night Time Enterprise Zone and Night Czar Amy Lamé.
Through live music, movement and protest-theatre WOMAN, LIFE, FREEDOM! reveals the colour, warmth and vitality of Iranian culture, for which a courageous young generation are currently fighting. Unearthing the extraordinary music and voices of women, who, in Iran, cannot be heard freely, this newly commissioned production shines a light on the rich and celebratory culture and the right to express it,that women in Iran are fighting, since the death of Mahsa Amini almost a year ago. Presented by Ameena Hamid and directed by an Iranian artist who wishes to remain anonymous, this stirring and joyful event invites audiences to express solidarity with the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, in Stratford Park.
In a weekend of events from international companies that respond to the climate crisis on either side of the Thames, CYGNUS, a water ballet performed by life-sized, multi-coloured animatronic swans on the Royal Victoria Dock, is joined by fellow Dutch dance theatre company Vloeistof’s SLIDING SLOPE, an urgent response to climate change and rising water levels which takes place on the roof of a full-sized, submerged house. Both events are presented as part of At the Docksa brand new season of arts, culture and events. Overat Greenwich Peninsula, acclaimed French specialists in spectacle, Gratte Cielpresent ROZÉO, a poetic performance-installation on top often-metre-high sway poles evoking the wonder of the natural world.
Performance dates have been revealed for THE ARCHITECT, a previously announced, life-affirming theatrical journey on a double-decker bus, conceived by Actors Touring Company Artistic Director Matthew Xia, with writers Roy Williams and Mojisola Adebayo. This immersive experience, in which audiences travel across South-East London on a double decker bus, is infused with the experiences of Black Londoners across the three decades since the murder of Stephen Lawrence and is created with the support of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation.
Festival favorites GREENWICH FAIR, a family-friendly day of street theatre and circus transforming Greenwich Town Centre, and DANCING CITY, a weekend of outdoor contemporary dance across the public spaces of the Canary Wharf estate, return for 2023 with bigger programmes than ever before. At Canary Wharf, the UK premiere of PAN CATWALK from Dutch company Zwermers, fuses fashion and choreography with a never-ending sequence of synchronized costume changes in a mind-opening celebration of fluidity and self-expression.
At Greenwich Park, as an extended addition of GDIF’s GREENWICH FAIR, leading disabled theatre maker Julie McNamara presents a specially commissioned immersive production A WOVEN WAKE FOR MIDSUMMER, framed by installation artist, Oliver McDonald’s artwork/arena, THIS WOVEN O, created entirely from willow. Stopgap and Chris Pavia’s promenade dance theatre piece connecting to the natural world ECHOES WITHIN THE EARTH and Caroline Cardus’ provocative road sign installation THEWAY AHEAD are among many events created by disabled, Deaf and neurodivergent artists for this year’s programme, and underly GDIF’s on going commitment to access and its recent recognition as the only UK festival to be awarded a Platinum Accessibility Standard by Attitude is Everything.
RESURGAM Look up in wonder, as one of the world’s most extraordinary vertical dance companies present this breath-taking performance on the iconic façade of Wren’s masterpiece, St Paul’s Cathedral.
An enduring symbol of hope for Londoners for more than 300 years, director Melecio Estrella has taken inspiration from the inscription Resurgam (I shall rise), carved onto the south portico of the cathedral, to create this awe-inspiring performance, which explores what it takes to be optimistic in challenging times.(31 August – 3 September)
OPEN LINES This heart-stopping spectacle presented by French company Basinga is performed by internationally renowned tight-rope walker Tatiana Mosio Bongonga. With the help of twelve extraordinary people drawn from the local community, she will make an astonishing crossing, high above General Gordon Square, opening GDIF 2023 with an act of fearless optimism.
Weaving precise balance with live music and epic outdoor aerial acrobatics, this unmissable one-night-only event celebrates the importance of collective endeavour in creating togetherness and hope. (25 August)
WOMAN, LIFE, FREEDOM! has become the rallying roar of Iran’s protest movement following the death of Mahsa Amini almost a year ago. This stirring production at Stratford Park, reveals the warmth and vitality of Iranian culture, for which a courageous young generation are currently fighting. Unearthing the extraordinary music and voices of women, which, in Iran cannot be heard freely, this is street theatre at its most powerful. (26 August)
SLIDING SLOPE is inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953. Four people cling on for survival on the rooftop of a submerged house, which provides the stage for a thrilling performance of contemporary dance and sound design at Royal Victoria Dock. Following sell-out shows across Europe, this compelling production carries the lesson from history of a devastating disaster in the face of today’s rising sea water levels and the destructive effects of global warming. (2 & 3 September).
ROZEO three performers perched on 10mhigh poles create a poetic ritual against the backdrop of the Thames. This living installation at the Greenwich Peninsula is inspired by nature and invites audiences to immerse themselves in the landscape and wonder of the outdoors. Take a deep breath, settle down and look up as Gratte Ciel’s virtuosic and entrancing performers sway in the sky. (2 & 3 September).
PAN CATWALK One catwalk, two performers, a violin, and a never-ending row of outfits. Through a bold fusion of fashion, choreography, live music and theatre, this London premiere at Canary Wharf from Dutch company Zwermers, challenges the urge to label or judge others based on how they appear, revealing instead a mind-opening celebration of fluidity and self-expression. (6, 7, 9 & 10 September).
DANCING CITY,the annual two-day dance takeover of the public spaces and waterfronts of Canary Wharf features a total of 12 performances. Highlights include Zwermer’s PAN CATWALK, SLEEPWALKER, an inclusive emotionally charged duet challenging perceptions of movement, presented by The Royal Ballet’s Kristen McNally, Alexander Campbell and performed by disabled dancer Joe Powell-Main alongside Isabel Lubach; and the previously announced BOUNCING NARRATIVES, which takes place on a trampoline on top of a shipping container where the audience can watch from underneath. A London premiere. (9 & 10 September).
GREENWICH FAIR is GDIF’s annual one day family-friendly festival of street theatre, dance, installation, circus and games in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark Gardens and Greenwich Park. This year 12 events have been programmed including EXIT from Flemish company Circumstances, a must-see UK premiere, in which four performers navigate revolving walls and floating doors, in an awe-inspiring circus production, exploring the frenetic challenges of everyday life.
THE ARCHITECTis GDIF 2023’s theatrical flagship piece in support of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation. Audiences will board a double-decker bus for a life-affirming celebration of Black lives. Conceived by Mojisola Adebayo, Roy Williamsand Matthew Xia, and created with a collective of leading Black artists including Bola Agbaje, Dexter Flanders,Vanessa Macauley and XANA. This new production asks how we create a blueprint for the future, three decades after the senseless murder of Stephen Lawrence. Co-commissioned and produced by GDIF and Actors Touring Company. (6 – 10 September).
ANCIENT FUTURES touches down in The Moorings, Thamesmead. Afrinauts, a crew of curious visitors from another world, invite audiences to join a spectacular dance party combining music, circus and sound system culture. Featuring new music by Woolwich’s own grime artist Afrikan Boyand created in collaboration with Quantum poet Oneness Sankara, this ritual celebration combines West African folklore, fantasy and science fiction, to imagine inspiring and inclusive futures. Conceived and directed by Vicki Dela Amedume MBEand J Spoonerand supported by Peabody (27 and 28 August).
CYGNUS is a magical ensemble of twelve life-sized swans that come together for a mysterious nightly roundelay in a poetic live installation at Royal Victoria Dock, presented by German company Loomaland’s Denis Bivouacand Florian Giefer, artists and specialists in motion control and animation. The artificial birds, illuminated from the inside, each guided by GPS, glide over the surface, changing colours to the rhythm of ethereal music. (31 August, 1, 2 and 3September).
BOUNCING NARRATIVES at Canary Wharf is part of GDIF’s Dancing City programme, and is a thrilling collaboration between choreographer Roza Moshtaghi and artist Shahrzad Malekian. This performance installation has been created in and around a shipping container with a trampoline as a roof, to provide unconventional perspectives on dance. The public are invited to experience the show from underneath the trampoline reclining on cushions inside the container – or from the outside. (9 and 10 September).
THE AIR BETWEEN US by multi-award-winning disabled artist Rodney Bell and dancer/choreographer Chloe Loftus. Spiralling into the air, this counter weighted duet is a celebration of equality and connection. This UK premiere, will take place against the stunning background of Greenwich Park. (26 August).