Thursday, 12 January 2017

ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble's UK Tour

ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble
(c) 2017 ŻfinMalta Dance EnsembleL all rights reserved
Reproduced wth kind permission of CAST on behalf of the company

We are likely to hear quite a lot from Malta over the next 6 months as it holds the rotating presidency of the European Union. It will be to the Maltese government that our ministers will deliver notice of this country's intention to leave the EU under art 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union. Malta is one of our best and oldest friends having resisted gallantly ferocious attacks by Axis forces during the second world war for which the whole population was awarded the George Cross. An emblem that continues to appear on its national flag. That small island republic is an important partner in the Commonwealth as well as the EU - at least for the time being.

Even though it has a population of only 450,000 Malta has a rich culture. Its national language is Semitic though English is another official language and Italian is widely spoken. It is 50 miles south of Sicily and about 200 miles north of Libya and Tunisia. It has been influenced by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British, all of whom have occupied the country at one time or another.

That rich heritage which is both Mediterranean and European is alluded to by ŻfinMalta Dance Ensemble, Mata's national contemporary dance company, on the "Company" page of its website:
"ŻMDE is the repertory national company of Malta that aims to thrive in the sharing and employment of a wide range of repertoire ranging from new works created in Malta by both local and international choreographers (upcoming and established) as well as the re-staging of renowned works from all over the world, thus creating a company of versatility, whilst maintaining a clear identity with its Euro-Mediterranean roots,"
The company is directed by Mavin Khoo who studied Bharata Natyam, the Cunningham technique in New York and classical ballet with various distinguished teachers around the world and has worked with Wayne McGregor, Akram Khan and Shobana Jeyasingh among others.  Its dancers come from Malta and many other countries.

ŻMDE is about to tour the UK with "five works designed to take the audience on a journey of discovery, passion and intricate choreography."  The tour starts in Swansea on 26 Jan 2017 and will move on to Birmingham on the 27, Doncaster on the 1 Feb, Derby on 2, Liverpool on the 3 and Sadler's Wells on the 9 and 10.

The performance in Doncaster will take place at CAST which I visited on 21 May 2015 to see Northern Ballet's Madame Butterfly (see Nixon's Masterpiece 22 May 2015) and Ballet Black last year (see Ballet Black in Doncaster 3 Nov 2016). The company will perform Home by Mavin Khoo and Kick the Bucket by the Spanish choreographer, Iván Pérez. Home is inspired by Spanish cinema and the films of Pedro Almodóvar. The dancers weave a cinematic narrative as the life of one man unravels on stage. Kick the Bucket is an emotional dance duet about life and death. Tickets for the performance in Doncaster will cost £16.50 (£14.50 concessions) each and may be ordered from the box office on 01302 303 959 or online at

Rodolfo Barradas, Marketing and Communications Officer of CAST, has kindly brought this tour to my attention and supplied me with the photo that appears above. He has also sent me the text of an interview with Mavin Khoo which I plan to publish shortly before ŻMDE visits Doncaster. I also hope to find out more about dance in Malta generally. I have already discovered that there is a Russian ballet school in the republic and a dance department at the national university. I have also seen some impressive videos of some of the country's ballet students. For a place with a population not much bigger than the metropolitan borough of Doncaster occupying a very much smaller land area there appears to be a lot going on.

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