Rural Touring Dance Initiative Returns For Autumn 2019

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This autumn, the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) brings a mixed programme of new and returning dance works to rural locations across the UK. Local promoters are invited to select the show that best fits these unique venues by picking a dance work from a bespoke 'menu'. For autumn 2019, the RTDI menu features a visceral duet exploring love and relationships, virtuoso multi-performer juggling and a moving portrayal of what it's like to be d/Deaf in a world made for those who can hear. The RTDI provides people living in remote areas with the opportunity to see innovative, fresh and fierce contemporary dance on their own doorstep. Along with giving people who might otherwise not see professional dance the opportunity to do so, the scheme gives audiences the chance to see highly skilled dancers perform in intimate and often unorthodox settings. The initiative is a partnership between the National Rural Touring Forum, The Place, China Plate and Take Art.

The programme is made up of four new shows, plus four returning hits from the spring/summer bill. Of the new pieces, Knot by Nikki and JD is a fusion of dance and circus that relies on the two performers' physicality to consider the near-impossible task of attempting to be honest to yourself without hurting the person you love. Created in collaboration with Ben Duke of Lost Dog, whose own work Juliet & Romeo also features on the RTDI programme, Knot is breath-taking display of acrobatics, choreography and co-dependent movement work.

Louder is not always clearer by Mr and Mrs Clark (**** The Stage) is a warm and poignant portrait of life as a deaf person and the experience of isolation. Johnny, a teacher, new dad and devoted footie fan, seems full of social confidence. But this isn't always the case. As the only deaf member of a hearing family and the friend of many hearing people, Johnny has often felt lonely and excluded. Over the course of the show, Johnny explains how he's kept his deafness hidden from colleagues, friends and acquaintances - in fact, some people didn't even known Johnny was deaf until they saw this show.

Alleyne Dance's A Night's Game is a ferocious interrogation of incarceration in the famous Alcatraz prison. Performed by twin sisters Kristina and Sadé Alleyne, the performance makes the most of the women's background in athletics, using their physical strength and control to deliver a show that is raw yet effusive and expressive.

The last of the new shows on the programme is Patfield and Triguero's Gibbon, an entertaining and awe-inspiring combination of dance and super-skilled juggling. Using humour and repeated movement, Gibbon asks whether failure is a necessary point on the route to perfection. This highly relatable work looks at two people as they try, try and try again to get it right.

Returning for the second time is Lost Dog's Juliet and Romeo - A Guide to Long Life and Happy Marriage. The company headed by Ben Duke won the 2017 Rural Touring Award for the most innovative and inspirational show for their previous show, Paradise Lost (lies unopened beside me). This duet, meanwhile, revisits Shakespeare's most famous couple, imagining them as middle-aged and struggling to hold their marriage together. Playful and powerful in equal measure, the show questions our obsession with youth and our inability to accept uncomfortable truths.

Likewise, James Wilton's re-imagining of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, Leviathan, returns for a second time. Created by the multi award-winning choreographer, this striking work employs a mixture of dance, martial arts and capoeira to delve into the murky secrets of the ocean, and the fascination it holds for people. Leviathan is performed to an electro-rock soundtrack from Lunatic Soul.

Finally, Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer by Complicité Associate Shane Shambhu also makes a welcome return to the RTDI programme. This popular show is based on the artist's personal experience growing up in east London and learning Indian dancing in England. A clever, dynamic and funny work profiling how race, language, identity and culture all have a part to play in Shambhu's life.

Speaking about the forthcoming season RTDI Project Manager Claire Smith said "It's extremely exciting to be launching the touring dates of our 4th Menu with companies chosen from over 100 applications. Dance artists have been totally switched on to the visceral experience of performing in our intimate spaces and audiences love seeing this top-quality work close up - it's thrilling to see people returning!"

In 2015 The National Rural Touring Forum joined forces with The Place, China Plate and Take Art to launch a brand-new initiative designed to assist in the making and touring of contemporary accessible dance to rural areas. The project was set up to address the paucity of dance performance happening in rural areas in smaller community venues. The project has been made possible by a grant from Arts Council England's Lottery funded Strategic Touring Programme. Due to RTDI successes in November 2017 the project was given a further £417k to develop the project until July 2021. Over 160 performances have taken place to date along with numerous workshops and training opportunities for artists.

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a partnership project led by The National Rural Touring Forum with The Place, China Plate and Take Art. The project is funded by Arts Council England through its Strategic Touring Fund.

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