Oona Doherty - Hard to be Soft

DU19 Oona Doherty Hard to Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer, Southbank Centre | Photo Teresa Elwes

Dance Umbrella is London’s international dance festival, celebrating 21st century choreography across the capital and beyond. Our mission is to entice audiences, nurture artists, innovate practice, and stimulate interest in the power of the body in motion.

Since 1978, our annual festival has brought outstanding contemporary dance to London, presenting more than 785 artists from 40 countries to over one million people. The first to present Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Akram Khan, Michael Clark and many more in the UK; we have commissioned over 85 new works and presented at 136 different venues ranging from Smithfield Market to the British Library; from canal long boats to Alexandra Palace Ice Rink; from inner city car park rooftops to outer London parks.

We seek out the most creative ideas, partners and locations to create art with exceptional artists that is accessible, local and engaging to audiences.

Alongside our festival, we create year-round creative learning initiatives for all ages, develop new choreographic talent, host thought-provoking debates and discussions, and offer skill sharing opportunities for creative industry professionals.

From groundbreaking world premieres at iconic London venues, to transforming our cityscape with gravity defying outdoor shows; from capturing the adrenaline rush of the ice-rink to creating a safe-space for the ballroom community, Dance Umbrella is a creative force that develops artists, audiences and the art form itself.

From 2013 – 2021, under the ambitious artistic vision of Emma Gladstone OBE, DU expanded the definition of contemporary dance to include a wide range of movement forms, inviting artists to reflect on the modern world in whatever style they choose. DU reached out to new audiences through the commissioning of work, developed partnerships with non-dance venues (e.g. Young Vic, Unicorn, Battersea Power Station), and formed an orbital touring network with arts centres in outer London boroughs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 we held Dance Umbrella Digital – our first free virtual festival bringing together over 40 international artists. Most of the festival content is still available to watch online now.

In March 2021, Freddie Opoku-Addaie was appointed Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Dance Umbrella. Freddie was Guest Programmer for the festival during a three-year initiative from 2016-2019. His Out of the System programme presented exhilarating work by dance practitioners from the UK and abroad. Under Freddie’s leadership we will continue to celebrate the truly global nature of dance and London’s unique local dance communities. We are committed to widening the centre for dance by welcoming emerging artists in and supporting mid-career and established artists to reach out to new audiences.

We are currently working behind the scenes on our 2021 festival and look forward to sharing details in the coming months.

Support us

In these uncertain times we would love your support in any of the following ways: