Contemporary dance has come a hell of a long way in the 30 years that Dance Umbrella has been running and that's reflected in this year's programme with the once pioneering and avant garde, now established, respectable big hitters opening the season: Merce Cunningham dance company presents new work alongside classic at the Barbican and Richard Alston celebrates his 60th birthday at Sadlers Wells.
As usual, "brief encounters" with emerging choreographers precede the big performances, exposing their work to unprecedented new audiences and the festival is peppered with talks and film screenings. Cunningly, this year, there's also an "Out There" selection highlighted precisely to challenge your assumptions about dance. Think you know what it's all about? Think again.
We're particularly looking forward to an excuse to visit Riverside Studios in Hammersmith to see Israel's premier dance company, Batsheva performing Ohad Naharin's "Mahmootot" in the round (well, rectangle... see clips below), Tiago Guedes getting his scissors and sellotape out, Toilet Tango, performed in the window of the Bathstore on Baker Street (pictured) and the return of the dancing digger; this time on tour.
Dance Umbrella opened last night and runs till 8 November at various venues. Check out the full Dance Umbrella programme and book tickets online.