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Live dance returns to Chichester in first open-air performance since March

LIVE dance is returning to Chichester for the first outdoor public performance since lockdown.

The University of Chichester will present an international group of performers from the mapdance contemporary touring company on Monday 21 September. It has been specifically created with social-distancing and Covid-restrictions in mind in a bid to bring back live art for the community.

Performers from mapdance, whom are all students on the University’s MA Dance Performance degree, have been recruited worldwide and operate as a professional touring company. They will perform outdoors on the University’s Cloisters lawn at 7pm and is free to watch, although tickets must be reserved in advance from www.mapdance.org or its Eventbrite page.

“This is not only a show for dance lovers but for anyone who wants to safely watch live dance with a company of eleven dancers for the first time since lockdown,” said Cathy Childs, who leads the University’s department of dance. “It’s a culmination of a year of choreographic exploration in a completely unique programme reworked to enable the dancers to performing together.

“Although companies are getting back on their feet, nowhere else in the UK is currently able to provide this kind of experience beyond duet work and the company have been existing in a secure ‘bubble’ in order to be able to work and perform.

“The safety of our audience is our top priority so this performance is fully compliant with social-distancing, within the University’s Covid-secure location, and, as it is hosted outdoors, face covering may be worn but will not be compulsory. The dancers are operating like a high-profile sports team and have been living in a bubble, with constant tests and screenings to keep them healthy.”

The performance is the first of its kind since lockdown began and will uniquely feature performers on stage together

Next week’s performance at the University of Chichester is hosted in its Cloister’s lawn, on its Bishop Otter campus, and includes a mixture of gritty dance-theatre and wry humour, and original choreography which will appeal to new and seasoned audiences.

It will feature new works by renowned artists Gary Clarke, Noa Shadur, Ceyda Tanc, and Jose Agudo who created the artistry especially for the mapdance performers, and who themselves brought their own approaches from their home nations in Asia, Europe and America.

Performers Gwen Ballard, Madison Burgess, and Yuan-Chen Cheng had travelled from Newcastle, Toronto, and Taipei respectively in the summer of 2019 to start the MA degree. Under the direction of artistic directors Yael Flexer and Detta Howe, they had planned to tour the UK and Europe before the Covid pandemic restricted their movements.

"I went to the UK to see how other people dance and what I found was very different," said Cheng, who brings with her classically-orientated dance culture. Madison and Gwen added: "I love being part of a company with so much energy."

Specialist marshals will be present at the mapdance performance to support attendees and ensure the event remains Covid-compliant. Audience members are encouraged to bring picnics, and the University’s students’ union will be providing a full bar which will be available via a safe app.

Tickets for the performance are free with donations welcome, with any money raised going towards the dancers’ future development. More information is available at www.mapdance.org or www.chi.ac.uk/dance.

Performance details

  • 7pm on Monday 21 September
  • Cloisters Lawn, University of Chichester, Bishop Otter campus, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6PE
  • Tickets are free but must be reserved at either www.mapdance.org or directly from www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mapdance-performance-cloisters-lawn-tickets-119918159443
  • Vehicle parking on-campus is free after 5pm
  • Catch the company further afield on 22 September at Motus in Milton Keynes.