Behind the scenes with Candoco Dance Company

Making ‘love’ by Saphia Bishop (Candoco Dance Company, Assistant Producer)

DSC_9882

Our new duet You and I Know by Arlene Phillips tells the story of two free-spirited lovers who meet at a summer festival (much like the festivals at which we will be performing this work). The tale of their romantic and, at times, fiery relationship is told through a series of vignettes set to pop music. If you know Candoco Dance Company, you will know that we are always seeking to do something different and challenging. And this duet is no different. With a clear narrative, the use of pop songs and working with a commercial choreographer, You and I Know has been commissioned to engage and excite our dancers and our audiences in new ways.

Given all this, you might be surprised to learn that Arlene, her Creative Associate, Antonia Franceschi, and our two company dancers, Joel Brown and Laura Patay, only had two weeks to make the 16-minute piece. After a grueling month long tour of Switzerland in April, the dancers were straight back into our studio in Stanmore, working day in, day out with Arlene and Antonia to create this emotive love duet.

DSC_9874

For Joel and Laura this was a pretty full on creation process. Arlene had a strong narrative idea for the piece right from the start, and her choreography and direction creates a real sense of character and story telling through dance. This approach required the dancers to really develop their characters to portray the story Arlene wished to tell. This was a key part of the process that pushed Joel and Laura hard both physically and mentally, although I suspect Arlene would have liked to push them even harder with a little more time!

 

DSC_0051

Alongside a tight making period, we performed our first sharing of the work to a large crowd, including various members of the Strictly Come Dancing cast (very exciting!), in a beautiful old building. It was emotional – tears, laughter and lots of applause for the team.

The duet has a real intimacy about it and the concern was that this might get lost in a big outdoor setting. However, reactions at our first performance at Norfolk and Norwich Festival on 28 May, suggest that we had nothing to worry about. Joel and Laura have such an incredible magic between them that the feelings of intimacy, connection and emotion were felt throughout the audience. And, the dancers are embracing the uncertainties and surprises of performing in a public space – a Labrador almost made a cameo in one of the performances in Norwich!

new Candoco show image Photography by Camilla Greenwell 2016

We can’t wait to perform on 1 and 2 July at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival. A new city, a new space, a new crowd – who knows what might happen, we do know, however, that you will love what you see!

DSC_1325

See You and I Know as part of Dancing City at Canary Wharf
Friday 1 July 13:30 & 18:00
Saturday 2 July 14:35 & 16:40
Jubilee Plaza (just by the main entrance to Canary Wharf tube station)
Don’t forget, it’s FREE!

Photography credit: Candoco Dance Company, You and I Know by Arlene Phillips, Photography by Camilla Greenwell 2016

We interrupt this blog to bring you a message from the National Institute of Sonic Geology

Professor Stella Barrows tells us about the National Institute for Sonic Geology and explains what will be erupting from underneath the ground on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 of June.

Hello, I am Doctor Stella Barrows, head of the NISG, the National Institute for Sonic Geology*. You can find more about us here: http://sonicgeology.blogspot.co.uk which is our effort to explain Sonic Geology in layman’s terms for the general reader.

The Institute exits for the purpose of exploring, recording and interpreting geological sonic phenomena in the British Isles and sovereign British territories worldwide.

Ear Trumpet_Gobledeegook Theatre_Hi Res_9

Sound is erupting underneath us all the time, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where and when it will emit so as to be audible for the average person going about their daily business. Using the latest scientific equipment we have however been able to work out the exact time and location of a forceful eruption, which luckily coincides exactly with the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival. We have identified the eruption point to be Greenwich’s St Alfege Park, behind the Hawksmoor Church of the same name.

Ear Trumpet_Gobledeegook Theatre_Hi Res_1

Using a series of beautifully made Ear Trumpets, fashioned from gramophone horns and instruments requisitioned from bad orchestras; the National Institute for Sonic Geology will help the general public to listen in to the sounds underneath the ground – things they would not usually notice. They may hear bells, ancient ships or even the echo of old music halls. It is, in fact, very hard to say until we are on site and listening ourselves as to what we will hear, but early data from the Greenwich sounding space suggests that sonic phenomena on this site are the result of a unique combination of geological and man-made conditions around the River Thames featuring an abundance of proto-historical events.

We are very excited to meet new, intrepid members of the general public who are happy to take part in the ‘citizen science’ of listening to the world around them a little more carefully. We believe that Greenwich will be a rich location in terms of sonic emission: the Royal Borough is the site of Historic Palaces, Viking invasions and public houses frequented by ancient mariners. The NISG looks forward to meeting you.

Ear Trumpet_Gobledegook Theatre 5

Ear Trumpet will take place in St Alfege Park at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Find out more about Greenwich Fair.

The NISG has some friends who reside at this address:

www.gobbledegooktheatre.com
@thegobbledegook

*‘sonic geology’ is defined as the emerging, experimental science derived from the empirical analysis of subterranean sonic phenomena, and the tapping of historical sonic substrata for the release of revelatory data

Ear Trumpet_Gobledegook Theatre 7

GDIF2016 – The Bicycle Ballet Company

The Bicycle Ballet Company’s Creative Producer, Karen Poley, introduces the company and what you can expect to see on the car-free streets of Greenwich during Greenwich Fair

9-Strictly-Cycling-bicycle ballet 4

© Raysto Images

We create exhilarating outdoor performances with bikes, exploring the joyful highs and gritty lows of cycling.

Incredible as it might seem, 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of The Bicycle Ballet Company. We launched into the world on Brighton seafront with an epic participatory performance of The Mass Show by 100 local people and their bikes.  The show was inspired by Busby Berkeley’s film choreography and performed in the most glorious sunshine.

I mention the weather because working outdoors, it is a bit of a theme.  That show’s rehearsals saw fog, hail, sunburn and just a couple of hours before the show, everyone was soaked to the skin running final rehearsals in a torrential storm.

This kind of weather seems to have marked the beginning of pretty much every show we’ve subsequently made.  So much so, that I’ve come to think of it as part of the ‘birthing’ process. It also directly inspired Strictly Cycling, which we’ll be presenting at GDIF 2016 on 25 & 26 June.

Strictly-Cycling-takes-the-road-©-Raysto-Images

© Raysto Images

Strictly Cycling is an almost waterproof show in glorious yellow, so bright you can spot it for miles on even the greyest day.  It’s a visual performance and ‘cycle-about.’  Part choreographed around everyday cycling experiences, and part improvised to interact with audiences and anything around the performers.

It’s colourful, anarchic and very very silly.

9-Strictly-Cycling-bicycle ballet 3

© Raysto Images

Come and see epic human/bike sculptures, slo-motion races and celebrate cycling, life and yellowness.

www.bicycleballet.co.uk
Watch a Bicycle Ballet video
@bicycleballet

The Bicycle Ballet Company will perform Strictly Cycling at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Location & time tbc

GDIF2016 – Second Hand Dance at Moat Island

Second Hand Dance perform at GDIF’s after-school programme ‘Moat Island’ at Well Hall Pleasaunce in Eltham. Find out how Rosie Heafford, founder of Second Hand Dance, came up with the ideas for the show.

Look down, what are you standing on?

When I was a child I had a fascination with grass and everything that lived in it. I used to collect snails to look after as pets feeding them greens from the garden; or watch woodlice and ants for ages scurrying around underneath rocks, going about their business.

Grass_Bath2015014

The show ‘Grass’ came from an image I had of movement on turf – how the enjoyable sensation of soft green blades against your skin might encourage you to move. It was inspired by my memories and collected memories of others about their favourite things in, on and around grass.

It quickly developed into a show about my fascination with bugs as well – so many insects dance! Bees ‘waggle’ to tell each other where pollen can be found and ants use dance to tell if they are from the same colony. We found that mini beasts could move in ways that we couldn’t even start to.

Grass_Bath2015010

I wanted to celebrate these bugs, show them off and encourage children, adults, parents and grandparents to get outside and pay attention to what is beneath our feet.

We’ve performed Grass outdoors, in theatres, in parks, gardens, town squares and even cattle markets and we can’t wait to bring it to Greenwich as part of the festival. As well as the show, there’s a chance afterwards to explore some of our set that turn into sand and soil play-crates.

Grass_Bath2015013

So, do you know how many hearts a worm has? If not, come along and find out!

See you there,
Rosie

Moat Island is presented in association with Greenwich Dance
Monday 27 June – Friday 1 July, Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham 16:00 – 19:00

Explore the full Moat Island programme here

GDIF2016 – Deaf Men Dancing

We’re highlighting some of the companies and performances scheduled for this summer’s festival. First up is an introduction to Deaf Men Dancing and their show TEN, written by Deaf Men Dancing’s Choreographer and Director Mark Smith

Deaf Men Dancing is an all-male deaf dance company with a fusion of different styles of dance incorporating British Sign-Language into movement. The essence of my work is to use sign language as an inherent part of the creative process and integrate it into the movement vocabulary, rather than use it as a commentary to the performance.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 6

The ideas I developed for TEN, were inspired by double acts like Laurel & Hardy, Flanagan & Allen, Morecambe & Wise, Abbott & Costello and Gilbert & George. I was also inspired by vaudeville & music hall acts.

When I was a kid, Charlie Chaplin was my idol. I grew up watching Chaplin’s films. The silent film format was accessible for me to watch because it was very visual and even had “subtitles” or just “titles” for me to read. That’s where I got the idea of getting the dancers to hold printed cards with text to the audience during the performance. While I was researching for TEN, I discovered that Chaplin was good friends with a deaf actor Granville “Red” Redmond, who appeared in Chaplin’s films. Chaplin admired the natural expressiveness of a deaf person using American Sign Language. Chaplin’s interest in Deaf Culture gave me the idea to incorporate a deaf awareness course into TEN but in the form of Ten Commandments.

mol-liberty-2014-1168-3499125553-O

In the 60s, Gilbert & George famously created a live-art performance called Singing Sculpture where they stood on a table for eight hours. Gilbert held leather gloves & George held a walking stick. Their faces were painted in silver. They mimed to an old music hall song called Underneath The Arches – a song in which two tramps describe the pleasures of sleeping rough. It was a telling choice, harking back to prewar England and traditions of vaudeville, while also identifying with the fringes of society. Singing Sculpture gave me the idea for TEN. I’ve collaborated with designer Ryan Dawson Laight, who designed DMD’s previous outside performance, Alive!, and he’s designed a table for two dancers to perform on and deliver “speeches” to the audience in a form of Speaker’s Corner or Soapbox such as those that used to to be located on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate. The table is also a kind of Pandora’s Box, containing surprise props for the dancers to use for the performance.

I collaborated with deaf musician and composer Sean Chandler to develop ten different tracks and I was lucky to have sound designer Syd Funnell onboard to provide the soundscape for TEN.

Deaf Men Dancing will perform TEN at Greenwich Fair on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 June. Times & location tbc.

Deaf Men Dancing - TEN 8

Follow Mark Smith on Twitter @DeafMenDancing1
Deaf Men Dancing on YouTube
Deaf Men Dancing website

GDIF2016 programme announced

In celebration of our 21st birthday we’re presenting an extra special programme that includes 6 World Premieres, 5 UK Premieres and 12 London Premieres.

Highlights include:

THE HOUSE
Presented in association with Royal Museums Greenwich
Fri 24 June 10pm
Tickets £15 (£12 concessions) Buy now
Substantial FREE promenade (standing) places available on the day.
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, SE10
GDIF’s opening event is a specially commissioned spectacular marking the 400th anniversary of The Queen’s House and its forthcoming re-opening this year. A mythic contemplation of the rise and fall of civilisations, inspired by Britain’s first classical building and its architect Inigo Jones, the production is directed by GDIF’s Bradley Hemmings and brings together video projections by BAFTA Award-winning Tal Rosner, ground-breaking contemporary hip hop from Avant Garde Dance, music by Novello Award winning composer Dan Jones, performance and pyrotechnics from the German outdoor theatre company Pan.Optikum, with narration featuring Olivier award-winning Sharon D Clarke.
Presented as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016

GREENWICH FAIR
Sat 25 June 1 – 9.30pm
Sun 26 June 12 – 7pm
Greenwich Town Centre, Cutty Sark Gardens, Old Royal Naval College, SE10
GDIF’s annual ‘festival within a festival’ spills out on to the streets of a car-free Greenwich making it bigger than ever. The largest and most intensive programme of street arts in the capital, with over 21 productions include circus, theatre, dance, street games, cabaret, live art and mass participation.
Shows include Campervan of Love from award-winning New Art Club. This funny, musical, dancing adventure for all the family takes place in and around a bright pink vintage VW campervan. Other highlights include Block, a new collaboration from NoFit State Circus and Motionhouse Dance; Ye Gods, in which an apocalypse is unleashed across the houses and streets of a model village, courtesy of Whalley Range All Stars; an ingenious mechanical dance between a robotic machine and a percussionist from Germany’s Ulik; and a revealing 21st century morality play entitled Peregrinus from the Polish theatre company KTO. The streets of Greenwich will also provide the stage for some moments of mass participation with the opportunity to join in a step by step recreation of the audition scene from A Chorus Line in Audition Project, led by Miss High Leg Kick (leg warmers optional), and Ida Barr will be creating her very own block party with live mixing, cockney singalong and a mass participation Hokey Cokey.

THE PEOPLE BUILD
Sat 25 June 12 noon onwards
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, E20
As the foundations of a new cultural district, “Olympicopolis”, start to be laid, you are invited to take part in a spectacular architectural event devised by the French artist Olivier Grossetête. Over several days, hundreds of cardboard boxes will be crafted into the building blocks of a democratically assembled building, built solely through human power and collective endeavour. On the final day, you can watch in amazement – and lend a hand – as extraordinary new buildings rise from the ground.
Part of the Foundation for FutureLondon’s Olympicopolis Season
Presented as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016

SILENCE
Thur 30 June & Fri 1 July 10pm
Tickets £7 Buy now
Substantial FREE promenade (standing) and some bench seating available on the day.
Bethnal Green Gardens, Tower Hamlets E2 9PA
Polish company Teatr Biuro Podrózy present the world premiere of Silence. Physical theatre, stilts, fire, unusual staging, puppetry and music tell a story of refugees and migrants caught up in a spiral of war, fences and the dream of escape. This production has been co-commisioned by GDIF, Freedom Festival and Hull UK City of Culture 2017 as a sequel to Teatr Biuro Podrózy‘s legendary production Carmen Funebre.

MOAT ISLAND
Mon 27 June – Fri 1 July 4 – 7pm
Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham, SE9
Presented in association with Greenwich Dance
Moat Island provides the setting for a daily outdoor arts adventure for intrepid under 12s, a site which was once the former home of E Nesbit, author of The Railway Children. Featuring an after-school programme of dance, theatre, puppetry, workshops and games, highlights include a series of interactive automata from the Catalan company Tombs Creatius, dance on an inflatable bouncy castle from Darren Ellis Dance and workshops and performances from Plunge Boom created by Ben Faulks, aka CBeebies’ Mr Bloom.

DANCING CITY
Fri 1 July 1pm & 5.30pm, Sat 2 July 1 – 5pm
Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets, E14
A journey across the parks and piazzas of Canary Wharf with GDIF’s now legendary annual outdoor dance extravaganza. This year’s programme features the London premiere of You and I Know, a new duet from Candoco Dance Company, choreographed by award winning choreographer and theatre director Arlene Phillips. Other highlights include In My Head from Beeldend Danstheater Telder (Netherlands), a multidisciplinary visual dance performance combined with art and music that takes place in a 5 metre high three dimensional sculpture of a head, through and around which performers climb and dance; SLICE, a new production from the acclaimed Wired Aerial Theatre choreographed by Sharon Watson (Phoenix Dance); H.O.H from Far From The Norm, who combine hip hop and contemporary dance in a thrilling exploration of football in multi-cultural Britain; and Phone Box by Corey Baker Dance, an energetic and vibrant outdoor production featuring an iconic vintage red telephone box.

IGNITE!
Sat 2 July 3 – 9pm
Royal Arsenal and Woolwich Town Centre SE18
This street arts programme takes inspiration from Woolwich’s manufacturing and industrial past, whilst looking towards new cultural ambitions with an array of ingenious events, including a herd of mechanical animals occupying a park, rotating musicians taking to the streets and an astonishing performance on a 13 tonne digger. A major highlight will be the London premiere of acclaimed physical theatre company Tangled Feet’s new installation performance piece Emerge/ncy.

THE CLASH OF DRUMS
BY LES COMMANDOS PERCU & DEABRU BELTZAK
Sat 2 July 10pm
Royal Artillery Barracks,Woolwich, SE18
GDIF’s afternoon Ignite! programme is followed by this year’s spectacular finale – a fusion of percussion and awesome fireworks from the French company Les Commandos Percu and the Spanish street theatre group Deabru Beltzak. Out of nowhere drummers march towards each other in a wild parade which culminates in a theatrically staged fusion of percussion and pyrotechnics. This production will tour to Luton, Leicester, Hull, Doncaster and Liverpool as part of GDIF’s pioneering Global Streets national touring initiative supported by Arts Council England.

Explore the full programme here

Without Walls 2016 Programme Announcment

Following on from a successful open call, Without Walls has just announced the 13 shows that they will be commissioning and supporting in 2016!

Without Walls is a consortium of leading arts organisations and festivals dedicated to the development of the UK’s outdoor arts sector. The Associate Touring Network supports the onward touring of work commissioned and presented by Without Walls.

Greenwich+Docklands International Festival is a proud member of Without Walls, which is also composed of Brighton Festival, Hat Fair, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Salisbury International Festival, Out There International Festival of Circus & Street Arts and Stockton International Riverside Festival. It is also comprised of affiliated members Just So Festival, Chesire and Showzam! Blackpool with Creation Centre Partner 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Centre.

We’re thrilled to be having many of these companies with us this coming festival (GDIF2016). More details to come soon!

"Urban Astronaut" by HIGHLY SPRUNG Commissioned by Without Walls

“Urban Astronaut” by HIGHLY SPRUNG
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Bed" by ENTELECHY ARTS Commissioned by Without Walls

“Bed” by ENTELECHY ARTS
Commissioned by Without Walls

"BLOCK" by MOTIONHOUSE & NOFIT STATE CIRCUS Commissioned by Without Walls

“BLOCK” by MOTIONHOUSE & NOFIT STATE CIRCUS
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Camper Van Of Love" by NEW ART CLUB Commissioned by Without Walls

“Camper Van Of Love” by NEW ART CLUB
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Le Cheval Solitaire" by ABOUTNOWISH Commissioned by Without Walls

“Le Cheval Solitaire” by ABOUTNOWISH
Commissioned by Without Walls

"A New Duet (working title)" by CANDOCO DANCE COMPANY Commissioned by Without Walls

“A New Duet (working title)” by CANDOCO DANCE COMPANY
Commissioned by Without Walls

"The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory" by LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES Commissioned by Without Walls

“The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory” by LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES
Commissioned by Without Walls

"H.O.H." by FAR FROM THE NORM Commissioned by Without Walls

“H.O.H.” by FAR FROM THE NORM
Commissioned by Without Walls

 Commissioned by Without Walls LANCE MOI DANS L’AIR LANCE MOI DANS L’AIRZoom inRead more "Lance Moi Dans L'Air" by JOLI VYANN Commissioned by Without Walls


Commissioned by Without Walls
LANCE MOI DANS L’AIR
LANCE MOI DANS L’AIRZoom inRead more
“Lance Moi Dans L’Air” by JOLI VYANN
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Miss High Leg Kick's Audition Project" by FRANCESCA BAGLIONE/MISS HIGH LEG KICK Supported by Without Walls

“Miss High Leg Kick’s Audition Project” by FRANCESCA BAGLIONE/MISS HIGH LEG KICK
Supported by Without Walls

"Masquerade" by YELLO BRICK Commissioned by Without Walls

“Masquerade” by YELLO BRICK
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Project_Vee" by CIRCUS GEEKS X PANGOTTIC Commissioned by Without Walls

“Project_Vee” by CIRCUS GEEKS X PANGOTTIC
Commissioned by Without Walls

"Phone Box" by COREY BAKER DANCE Commissioned by Without Walls

“Phone Box” by COREY BAKER DANCE
Commissioned by Without Walls

Global Streets: Arts Council England 3 year funding

Building on our Global Streets pilot in 2015, we’re delighted to have been successful in our bid to the Arts Council’s Strategic Touring programme to run a three year touring programme of audience development work through international outdoor arts.Thanks to this fantastic support, high quality productions from leading international companies will tour to 10 venues across the country, connecting the performances to the diverse demography in each location.

'The Colour of Time' by Artonik in association with East London Dance. Photo by Doug Southall. Part of Global Streets 2015

‘The Colour of Time’ by Artonik in association with East London Dance. Photo by Doug Southall. Part of Global Streets 2015

The Strategic Touring programme aims to give people better access to high quality arts experiences across the country, targeting places with low levels of art engagement, so this new funding is fantastic news and ensures that GDIF’s work can now reach out to towns and cities such as Birmingham, Doncaster and Hull.

Tangle by Polyglot. Photo by Stu Mayhew. Part of Global Streets 2015.

Tangle by Polyglot. Photo by Stu Mayhew. Part of Global Streets 2015.

In the announcement earlier this week, Joyce Wilson, London Area Director at Arts Council England, said: “GDIF aspires to address gaps in the provision of quality outdoor arts in places of low engagement. Its extraordinary ambition is matched by the highly reputable international companies involved, whose diverse offerings promise innovation and engagement for audiences across England.”

Click here to download a report on our Global Streets 2015 Pilot Project

We’ll be launching a new website for Global Streets shortly, so watch this space for more news!

Global Streets 2015 Pilot Project from GDIF on Vimeo.

See more photos from Global Street performances Tangle and The Colour of Time.

Print

GDIF’s Artistic Director honoured with MBE

GDIF’s Artistic Director Bradley Hemmings has been awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to Culture and Disability Arts, particularly in London.

Bradley has led Greenwich+Docklands International Festival since it first took place in 1996. Under Bradley’s direction GDIF has broken new ground in outdoor arts, commissioning, producing and presenting work by a wide range of UK and international artists. Described in The Guardian as “an event whose annual contribution to the happiness of the people of London is unrivalled” GDIF is now widely recognised as one of the leading outdoor arts festivals in the country, attracting over 100,000 people each year. Bradley has also played a key role in developing new outdoor work with Deaf and disabled artists and in addition to the annual Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, has produced the Mayor of London’s Liberty festival since its inception in 2003, which has included the last three years, in which this major disability arts festival has joined forces with National Paralympic Day.

In 2012 Bradley was Co-Artistic Director for the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 Paralympic Games, watched by 11.5 million viewers in the UK (Channel 4’s largest ever audience) and widely credited with helping to challenge and change perception of disability. He has gone on to direct the inaugural Paralympic Heritage Flame Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and the Opening Ceremony to the Great North Run’s One Millionth Finish in NewcastleGateshead. He is a founder member of the Without Walls consortium of outdoor arts festivals and is a member of the London Area Council of the Arts Council.

Bradley said “I’m so delighted by this wonderful recognition. It’s also a fantastic boost for the Festival as we go into our 21st birthday year and I’m enormously grateful to all the artists, audiences, staff, funders and my incredible Board, who have helped, in the words of Lyn Gardner, make GDIF the “annual miracle” that it has become.”

GDIF Celebrates 21 Years

GDIF - without year on blackeditThis year Greenwich+Docklands International Festival celebrates its 21st birthday!

We’ve seen massive transformations over the years, particularly in the way in which the appreciation of outdoor arts and the European style enjoyment of outdoor spaces has become part of the fabric of our lives. The Festival has been very much part of this story.

9697

GDIF Festival Programmes 1996 & 1997

The opening night of the very first GDIF back in 1996 blazed a trail for the soon to be completed DLR extension under the Thames, by presenting a cross river event in Cutty Sark Gardens and Island Gardens. In the following year, the last Commander of the Royal Naval College, the late and much missed, Jonathan Maughan, gave permission for us to open the gates at the RNC to an outdoor dance programme from Barcelona, which saw audiences amazed as they wandered into the stunning Queen Mary and King William courtyards which had been shut off to the public for three hundred years.

GDIF Festival Programme 1999

GDIF Festival Programme 1999

In our early days, an annual youth arts apprenticeship scheme called Gallery 37, took over Dial Arch Square in the Royal Arsenal offering 100 young people paid Summer jobs in the arts. Then there was “Take me to the River”, which took audiences by boat from the Painted Hall in Greenwich via Canary Wharf to the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, (a destination site now forever associated with outdoor conviviality and festivity).

 Les Girafes by La Compagnie Off, GDIF2003

Les Girafes by La Compagnie Off, GDIF2003

And of course, who could forget the very first sighting of Compagnie Off’s crimson giraffes, crossing the Green Bridge at Mile End Park or more recently, the experience of encountering Rara Woulib’s cast of Haitian ghosts and musicians dancing across the Halfpenny Hatch across Deptford Creek?

Deblozay by Rara Woulib, GDIF2014, Photo by Steve Eggleton

Deblozay by Rara Woulib, GDIF2014, Photo by Steve Eggleton

As we prepare for this year’s Festival, we’ll be celebrating the last 21 years, and so if you would like to send a birthday message or have a particularly vivid memory or picture of a past GDIF event that you’d like to share please do so at #GDIF