Brighton Festival guest director Hofesh Shechter has shared his vision for this year’s programme.
The Israeli choreographer, whose company has been in residence at the Dome since 2008, took to the venue’s stage to address a press conference this morning (Tuesday 25 February).
He was joined by Brighton Dome and Festival chief executive Andrew Comben.
Mr Shechter, who choreographed the opening sequence in the television series Skins, thanked those who had helped him put together the programme.
He spoke of a festival without barriers and said that although he had been part of the festival for years he was delighted.
He said: “I was offered this great opportunity and the first I thought was, great, I can watch the festival.
“In 2008, the year my company was formed, Andrew offered me the chance to be the resident company at the Dome.
“I feel like the Brighton Festival and Andrew have been holding my hand these five years.
“It’s a very close relationship between my company and the Brighton Dome and Festival.
“I feel very privileged and lucky that all this has happened.
“Brighton is a very vibrant place but you can find peace in it. It has a really good combination of feeling like a place where something happens and being a quiet place.
“There’s a good breeze of air from the sea – perfect for creating art.
Mr Shechter said that he was looking forward to living in Brighton throughout May and, confessing to be a tennis addict, added: “You will find me in Preston Park playing tennis.”
And he added that the festival was brave to choose a choreographer “because dance is low in the food chain”.
But while the festival includes a variety of shows and events, he spoke about his love of live performance.
He said: “Live performance can go really wrong or it can be amazing and that happens right in front of you.”
With live performance and with dance, he said: “There’s an immediacy, a physical presence. There’s something quite primal about it.”
His festival programme would touch on a number of issues, he said. “It’s very important to discuss issues but to do it in a way that is fun, that is light and that is entertaining.”
He didn’t want it to be too heavy, he said, adding: “We want the audience to be engaged – with the imagery, the subject.”
Mr Comben also spoke about ideas and issues, saying that there would be debate and discussion about immigration and dementia among other things.
He said: “Audiences will also find art standing by itself, that isn’t didactic or about any one thing.
“The Brighton Festival is for the whole city and anyone who comes here.”
In answer to one question, Mr Shechter said: “What can the festival achieve? The highest way of experiencing … that sense of brotherhood … something that can dissolve our preconceptions and leaves us sharing us a sense of connection and community.”
Two free events are expected to draw big crowds. One of them, Safe House by the arts company Metro-Boulot-Dodo, will have its world premiere in Hove Park on Saturday 17 May.
The other, One Million by the physical theatre ensemble Tangled Feet, promises a mix of music, acrobatics and pyrotechnics in the Black Rock car park in Madeira Drive, Brighton, on Friday 23 May and Saturday 24 May.
And former Brighton journalist Alex Bellos, who worked at the Argus in the early 1990s, will give a talk drawing on his new book Alex Through the Looking Glass.
The writer and broadcaster aims to show why numbers are our friends during his talk at the Pavilion Theatre – now rebranded as the Brighton Dome Studio Theatre – on Saturday 17 May.
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