BILLINGHAM International Folklore Festival of World Dance 2018 is set to attract thousands of spectators throughout the week after it spectacular launch at the weekend.

The 2018 programme opened with the Parade of Nations at the weekend. Hundreds of people lined the streets to watch the spectacle of dancers dressed in traditional folk costumes.

Performers from Mexico, France, Argentina, Egypt, Ukraine, Canada and Chile, are among groups set to take to the stage.

The 54th annual festival aims to transform Billingham into a meeting place for spectacular displays of dance, music, songs, costumes and colour.

Olga Maloney, artistic director of the festival, said: “This year it promises to be even more astounding, with a real explosion of dance, music and colour.

“There really is something for everyone and all ages.

“Performances will take place every day in Billingham over the nine-day festival, as well as a range of workshops and the Uncle BIFF’s Kids Club.”

It also included an opening performance and world premiere last weekend of Ikebana, the Journey in Quest of Harmony, funded by Arts Council England.

The performance was inspired by the Japanese art of flower making, ‘Ikebana’ and starred ITV’s Dancing on Ice star, Mark Hanretty.

Taiko drummers will also perform as part of the programme, they use an ancient Japanese form of percussion which is loud, hard, and fast, and involves a lot of choreographed movement which many identify with Japanese martial arts.

Head of arts and culture at Stockton Borough Council, Reuben Kench said: “Traditional folk dance and music forms reveal authentic common passions and fears that link people across the globe.

“It’s always a joy to see performers from different countries interacting with one another and with the enthusiastic audiences at the Billingham festival”

Workshops are also taking place, learning both advanced and beginner young performers artistic styles of dance based on traditional cultures from different nations. The styles will be taught by experts and run from Seven Entertainment hall (above ASDA) in Billingham town centre.

Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance runs until Sunday August 19 in venues across the town.

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