Pomegranates Festival Next Week – The NEN – North Edinburgh News

25th – 30th APRIL


There’s just one week to go before the Pomegranates Festival of International Traditional Dance (25-30 April) kicks off at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and various venues across Edinburgh. 

Tickets for all events are going fast and are available on a Pay What You Can basis.

The Pomegranates Festival, supported by Creative Scotland’s Traditional Dance Target Fund, celebrates Scottish traditional dance and diverse traditional dance practised by cultural migrant communities across Scotland.

The idea for the name of the festival comes from the second line of the Beatles song ‘Something’ (1969) written by George Harrison. The word pomegranate was only used as a temporary filler by Harrison before he settled on the final lyrics.

For the festival this idea of pomegranates being a filler before settling on the final creation, came to stand for their process of workshopping, trying and teaching – all elements that remain hidden from the public eye, but culminate in unmissable creations.

This year, these unmissable creations include: 

A newly-devised showing of Elegies, (27 Apr, 7pm) which premiered during the Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2023.

This performance, which weaves together dance theatre, spoken word and live music, is a dance adaptation of the poetry book Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (1948) by Hamish Henderson(1919-2002), a soldier-poet, singer-songwriter and scholar-folk revivalist of Scotland.

Set in a dancehall and a desert during the Second World War, the new production is centred around new ensemble choreography by George Adams which  embodies ceilidh, jive, swing and lindy hop, accompanied by Henderson’s poems read by spoken word artists Morag Anderson and Stephen Watt, and live music and vocals from multi-instrumentalist Cera Impala.

The Festival Finale on International Dance Day (29 April 7.30pm) which will include a new dance piece created by festival choreographer-in-residence Jonzi D and performed by 20 Edinburgh-based traditional dancers.

Jonzi D is a MC, dancer, spoken word artist and widely recognised for his influence on the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene.

The piece will be accompanied by newly-commissioned poetry by Perth-based poet Jim Mackintoshwho will also be launching his new book of poetry We are Migrant at the event, and poems by BBC broadcaster Ian McMillan read by Jonzi D. There will also be a screening of a new film by contemporary visual artist and human rights activist Mare Tralla who has been artist-in-residence at this year’s festival.

Plus, there are tours of Edinburgh’s Old and New Town’s dance history (27 April 11am & 2pm), looking at the city’s dance tales and the under-recognised female dance teachers of the past, with writer and storyteller Donald Smith and dance historian Alena Shmakova; a special Lindy Hop ceilidh session led by the festival musicians-in-residence Castle Rock Jazz Band (27 April 8.30pm); a talk by Ruediger Hess, President of Europeade who will give an overview of the history of Europeade (25 April, 11am) which is the largest festival of folk dance and music held in a different European country each year, whilst on an initial visit to Scotland to explore the possibility of various cities hosting the 61st edition in 2026; and a Family Day on Sunday 28 April 10am to 2pm featuring shows for and by wee ones and a family ceilidh called by Caroline Brockbank of CeilidhKids.

Jim Mackintosh, poet-in-residence at this year’s Pomegranates Festival said:

to share the creative space

of the Pomegranate

to be one with such an array of talent,

to learn and empower, to embrace the rhythm

of words and dance woven with laughter

and the energy of youth

to pin my imagination

to the floor which

holds us to the union of our purpose

is a precious gift:

the gift that is the Pomegranate Festival

Pomegranate Festival co-producers Wendy Timmons and Iliyana Nedkova said: “We are delighted that this year’s festival is packed with over 25 events representing the diversity and wealth of traditional dance at our shores, as well as the intrinsic connection of Scottish and world trad dance with live music, poetry, film, heritage crafts, fashion and storytelling.

“We are very proud that for the third year now Pomegranates is serving a cocktail of fascinating movement to audiences and participants from Scotland, as well as worldwide via our festival livestreams.

“So looking forward to sharing this long weekend featuring over 100 trad dance artists, musicians and creatives as they take over our stages, screens and spaces.

“Spring has sprung and so have the seedlings of the ruby seeds and sequins of traditional dance from all corners of the world – all practised in Scotland by first and second generation of cultural migrants – from the Scottish Gaelic singing and step dancing to Ukrainian folk dancing, from Lindy Hop to Hip Hop.”  

Vanessa BoydInterim Head of Dance at Creative Scotland commented: “The upcoming Pomegranates Festival in the capital promises a vibrant gathering of artists uniting to celebrate and present a diverse tapestry of Scottish traditional dance alongside traditional dance from migrant communities and various cultures.

“What makes this festival truly exceptional is the breadth of the programming provided by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland which will enable many more people the opportunity to experience and engage with a strong mix of traditional dance from Scotland and around the world.”

The Pomegranates Festival will run from Thursday 25 April to Tuesday 30 April 2024 and is Scotland’s annual festival of international traditional dance.

Initiated and curated by Traditional DanceForum of Scotland it is presented and produced in partnership with Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Libraries, Dance Base and the Scottish Storytelling Centre. 

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