We are delighted to announce the return of our Pomegranates festival – sowing the seeds of international traditional dance across Edinburgh this spring. Initiated and curated by the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, the annual festival will once again mark UNESCO’s International Dance Day on 29 April 2023. The second iteration of our festival weekend will spread across not only two but three days – 28-30 April 2023. Again, it will be hosted by both the Scottish Storytelling Centre and St. Leonard’s Dance Studio at the University of Edinburgh.
Once again, Pomegranates will form part of Edinburgh Tradfest – a festival of longer tap roots in the Edinburgh Folk Festival, launched by TRACS in 2013, then curated by Soundhouse in collaboration with Transgressive North since 2019 and with Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland since 2022.
For this year’s Pomegranates, we will also join our efforts for the first time with three more festivals – North Atlantic Song, Northern Streams and Hidden Door.
We will share the spaces of the Scottish Storytelling Centre 28-30 April 2023 with the second North Atlantic Song Convention which was established in 2020 to celebrate and support the rich folksong traditions of all cultures that have borders with or access to the North Atlantic Ocean.
We are pleased to welcome artists Fromseier & Hockings and The Låtmores who will join our Pomegranates Ceilidh on 29 April 2023 as part of our partnership with Northern Streams – an established festival of Nordic and Scottish music, song and dance.
We are also collaborating with Hidden Door – the festival revealing hidden parts of Edinburgh while showcasing new and emerging artists. We are proudly co-commissioning a new choreography by Yuxi Jiang which we will share as part of our Pomegranates Triple Bill on 28 April 2023.
What else is new at Pomegranates 2023?
This year we have curated a wealth of events ahead of the festival weekend, including Duets – the dance and drawing exhibition by our artist-in-residence Gabriel Schmitz, as well as the related live duets with traditional and contemporary dance in Edinburgh and Glasgow, alongside the free exhibition tours.
Another new feature of this year’s festival? Not one but two new publications commissioned and produced by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland will become part of Pomegranates 2023:
- A Sequins of Poems to Dance To by our festival poet-in-residence Ian McMillan – a booklet of 10 poems which will come alive at our festival weekend finale on 30 April 2023
- Trad Dance Cast – the first episode of our new trad dance podcast hosted by Eleanor Sinclair, which zooms on one of our festival weekend highlights on 29 April 2023: the world premiere of our screen dance production To Begin the Dance Once More
We hope to encourage everyone to explore our Pomegranates 2023 festival events at a glance guide below and book their favourite through our dedicated festival website: https://linktr.ee/pomegranatesfest
28 April 2023 9am-5pm BST either in-person or livestream
Just like our inaugural festival, Pomegranates 2023 will kick off with an intensive day packed with professional development world dance workshops led by creative migrants based in Scotland. This year the line up includes not just 10 but 12 workshops led by over 15 trad dance artists and choreographers – all new to the Pomegranates workshops, including Pia Walker (Scotland), Karlis Cautis (Latvia), Oksana Banshikova (India), Lara Russo (Italy), Marianella Desanti (Costa Rica), Oksana Saiapina and Anastasiia Boiko (Ukraine), Sonia Michalewicz (Poland) as well as Chinyanta Kabaso (Zambia), Kev Theaker (England) and Yefing Zhu (China) – three alumni of our festival partner the University of Edinburgh. We welcome back two of our Pomegranates 2022 workshop leaders Kemono L. Riot (The Congo) and Heather Rikic (Japan).
Most importantly, all workshops will be accessible worldwide through our livestream partnership with Moray House School of Education and Sport, the University of Edinburgh, enabling any trad dancers the world over with an Internet connection to benefit from this continuous professional development opportunity.
But how did pomegranates become a metaphor for the process of creative professional development? It was in the process of curating the pilot festival edition of Pomegranates 2022 when we came across the line “Attracts me like a pomegranate”. It was initially the second line of Beatles’ song Something (1969) written by George Harrison. “Pomegranate” was only used as a temporary filler before Harrison settled on the final lyrics, yet for us pomegranates came to stand for the process of workshopping and learning often hidden from the public eye.
28 April 2023 7pm BST in-person
We are delighted that first of the three Pomegranates festival weekend shows is a triple bill weaving in trad and contemporary dance, the new and the rarely seen.
The night opens with Wish Upon a Falling Star performed by Yuxi Cheng – the first sharing in Scotland of this award winning solo with accolades from the 15th Beijing Dance Competition. This dance forms part of the research towards The Last Leaf on Earth – a new choreography in the making based on Chinese folk dance by Yuxi Jiang for three Scottish dancers co-commissioned by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and Hidden Door Festival.
Another solo follows suit. Steal Away and Pray is choreographed exclusively for Vincent Hantam – our choreographer-in-residence at this year’s Pomegranates. His diffident yet powerful performance embodies the classic American Spiritual Steal Away and Pray (1860s) and the iconic natural, barefoot movement of Margaret Morris, the dance pioneer who established Celtic Ballet in 1947, a forerunner of Scotland’s national dance company.
Finally, we welcome the return to the stage of Thistles and Sunflowers Dance Fusion – one of the newly commissioned highlights of the Thistles and Sunflowers festival which premiered as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. Choreographed and performed by the trad dance duo Ariana Stoyanova and Alexis Street – both alumni of our festival partner the University of Edinburgh, too – it draws on the parallels between Scottish and Bulgarian folk dance traditions, regional variations and friendships.
29 April 2023 7pm BST in-person
Pomegranates 2023 will provide the world premiere platform of our new short film To Begin the Dance Once More. Mother Earth Stories from Egypt and Scotland on the big theatre screen of the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It will be accompanied by post-show Q&A with the Edinburgh-based creative team and will complimented by special video postcards from our Cairo-based Egyptian choreographer Prof Hassan Khalil and our film director Marlene Millar – an award-winning Canadian filmmaker, dancer and choreographer.
For those who can’t make it to our festival premiere in-person, we are pleased to offer our the first podcast episode of our Trad Dance Cast, available to listen from anywhere in the world. The podcast delves into the creative process of toing and froing between Cairo and Edinburgh which revived the ancient mother daughter story from the flood plains of the Nile to the lochs and hills of Scotland on the screen.
What is more, inspired by our short dance film, we will stage Dances with Ouds and Fiddles – a brand-new live show for three dancers, an oud and a fiddle with new music composed, arranged and performed live by Jon Bews and Chris Lyons.
And if that isn’t colourful enough, festival guests will have a go at dancing themselves as part of our Pomegranates 2023 Ceilidh with Terrific Trouble Ceilidh Band and dance caller extraordinaire Pia Walker, guest drummer Nemo Ganguli and cameo appearance by our guest dance artists and musicians from Denmark and Finland Fromseier & Hockings and The Låtmores courtesy of our partnership with Northern Streams Festival.
30 April 2023 7pm BST in-person
Our special festival commission A Sequins of Poems to Dance To by our poet-in-residence Ian McMillan will not only illuminate the pages of this free downloadable Pomegranates booklet for generations of festivals to come but also brighten the movement of dozens of Scottish migrant dance atists from Zambia to Costa Rica determined to fuse fun folk dance with funky hip hop rhythms and rhymes at our festival finale as part of our Pomegranates Promenade – a production which will see Ian’s poems come alive in the MC set of Kemono L. Riot – our hip hop choreographer-in-residence and the dance graffiti of Gabriel Schmitz – our resident visual artist, alongside all dancers under the live accompaniment of Nemo Ganguli, Young Drummer of The Year Finalist 2022. The festival afterparty will feature Kemono’s special DJ playlist bound to get everybody on the dance floor.
Our hip hop poetry and charcoal graffiti-filled festival finale will also see the special launch of The Oxford Book of Hip Hop Dance Studies – the most comprehensive research on hip hop dance to date co-edited by the University of Edinburgh alumna Mary Fogarty.