Sunday, October 2

Transform Festival is back with a series of UK and World Premieres in Leeds

Transform has established itself as one of the UK’s most innovative platforms for emerging talent and the delayed final wave of their 21-22 programme in April offers a series of world and UK premieres.

Once again, the team offer productions taking place in iconic venues in Leeds with many in unusual and disused spaces that offer trailblazing co-curators a chance to create special events and experiences.

The festival invites audiences from across Leeds and beyond to rediscover and explore the city and to connect with bold, brave, vivid and socially conscious performance by artists from across the globe.

Leeds based artist Jamal Gerald made his name with Idol in Transform 19 and this year he presents the world Premiere of Jumbie he describes as a ritual for our sickened times. It’s rooted in the history and culture of Montserrat where the Jumbie dance calls on the spirits of the dead to cure illness, solve personal problems, and redress social injustice.

©The Other Richard

Jumbie revives the traditional dance from a contemporary queer perspective and the performance is led by Gerald alongside a Black queer ensemble in a night that promises to be one of sensual revelry – part ritual, part sex club, part dance party at Clay: Centre for Live Art Yorkshire from 17-19 March.

Between 10th – 11th March, Belgian arts centre Campo to present the UK premiere of The History of Korean Western Theatre at Leeds Playhouse billed as a documentary theatre performance, interweaving the personal and the political from South Korean theatre maker and composer Jaha Koo.

Koo celebrates the centenary of Korean theatre in 2008 when he realised that what is regarded as Korean theatre is largely determined by the Western canon and asks questions about tradition, self-censorship and authenticity. 

Between 18th – 19th March Transform presents the UK premiere of Ivorian choreographer Nadia Beugré’s Quartiers Libresat The Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre. Roughly translated as ‘free reign’, Beugré’s deeply emotive solo performance takes over the stage with breathless, raw energy, startling in its immediacy and unnerving imagery.

Overlooking the city on top of the Victoria Leeds Multi-Story carpark between 8th – 9th April, Mexican-Chilean choreographer Amanda Piña will presents the UK premiere of Frontera I Border – a Living Monument.

Frontera I Border has roots in a dance that emerged from the neighbourhood of El Ejido Veinte of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border between Mexico and the United States. Performed by young people at risk from the extremely violent environment this dance has continually evolved as a form of resistance to colonial forces.

At the end of March, multi-award-winning writer and performer Rachel Mars comes to Leeds to present Forge from 31st March to 2nd April. In 2014, the 100kg ‘welcome’ gate was stolen from Dachau concentration camp and a local blacksmith made a replica, exactly like the original. This Spring, Rachel will make an exact replica of the replica gate across three days, out of 60kg of mild steel examining how objects become contaminated by history and who memorials are for.

Brazilian based collective Mexa will blur the lines between the scripted and the unpredictable, between the demands of the past and the urgencies of the present in their online performance the more you rehearse, the worse it gets in a watch party on 10th March at 7pm or engage with the experience ‘on demand’ online until 12th March.

Running through until 19th March, artist Ellie Harrison from Leeds based company The Grief Series collaborates with Mexico’s Zion Studio to create The Ofrenda described as a vast ever-evolving public artwork that underpins Transform’s extended festival and forms a reflective and commemorative gift to the city.

On Friday 8th April, Transform invites audiences to join them for the last gathering of the Festival at the iconic Leeds venue The Holbeck for a night of live performance, music and celebration to end the festival on a high.

“The final wave of our extended festival Transform 21-22 looks to the future, inviting audiences across the North of England and beyond to join us for a programme that is as reflective and cathartic as it is epic and celebratory,” says Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform.

“We invite artists, audiences and citizens to join us in acts of hope and bravery. To travel with us to see panoramic views of the city, to experience collisions of artforms and perspectives; to remember with us, to revel with us, to dance with us.”

The festival opened on 23rd October and continues until Friday 8th April as they trial a ‘Pay What You Can’ ticket model that invites audiences to select the pricing level that best applies to them. Ticket options will range from £2-£25 with the aim of allowing more people to access festival events whatever their circumstances.