Despite the very short time between government's lockdown-lifting announcement and the start of the festival, the Lyon Dance Biennale was held in 22 performance venues and hosted 679 artists from 21 countries.
The 19th edition of the Dance Biennale, reduced in length and in venue capacity (35% in the first week, then 65% from 9 June onwards), attracted 37,500 festival-goers from 1-16 June, equating to 92% venue occupancy.
This edition, produced in unprecedented conditions and an unusual timescale due to the public-health crisis, was the scene for an enthusiastic reunion between artists and audiences.
The Fagor Experience, new in 2021, was a highlight of this Biennale. Staged in the Fagor Factory, this week-long cross-disciplinary strand devoted to young people attracted a range of first-time visitors. Interactivity and inclusion were the watchwords of this new attraction, which served up performances in unusual formats as well as installations, masterclasses and debates. A total of 222 dancers, including 109 amateurs and art-school students aged 15-25, performed artistic propositions that were free of charge and open to all. The Fagor Experience delighted more than 7,200 spectators, who were hosted in line with current health measures and the reduced venue capacity.
Revelations and audience-pleasers
A feature of the Africa2020 Season by the Institut Français, the Biennale gave pride of place to new dance pieces from Africa, and notably Re:INCARNATION – Qudus Onikeku's eye-catching creation, which earned thunderous audience ovations – and Wakatt by Serge Aimé Coulibaly. Other highlights of this edition included the French premiere of Marlene Monteiro Freitas's new piece, Dimitris Papaioannou's world premiere, and Room With A View by Rone and (LA)HORDE, staged in association with the Nuits de Fourvière festival as part of an exceptional partnership.
A strong presence of performance-arts professionals, amplified by a digital Focus Danse
Some 500 professionals attended the Dance Biennale, of which 400 during Focus Danse, the key gathering for dance-sector programmers and other professionals, supported by the Institut Français and Onda. The digital version of Focus Danse introduced this year drew 1,100 accredited participants from 44 countries. This online event will continue until 27 June, so that people can watch or rewatch the shows and the professional events.
After a blank year for the world of culture, Focus Danse and the European Platform (in conjunction with the CCNR / Yuval Pick) greatly fostered the dissemination of dance works. Artists such as Flora Détraz, Agathe Djokam Tamo and Lara Barsacq benefited greatly from this visibility.
A reinvited Défilé at the Roman Theatre of Fourvière The Défilé in African colours – a highlight of the Africa2020 Season held by the Institut Français and backed from its patrons' committee – had to adapt to the public-health restrictions. In a totally novel, resilient, show-based format, the Défilé was staged in three performances for audiences made up of the participants and their families. This Défilé edition, watched by its two iconic honorary patrons, Germaine Acogny and Fatoumata Diawara, brought together 1,200 amateurs on stage and 2,997 spectators in the open-air terraces of the Roman Theatre of Fourvière. These sharing, festive moments were widely conveyed on social media and safeguarded the generous-hearted solidarity that defines the Biennale Défilé. In addition, a 70-minute programme was produced France 3 Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and broadcast to a large audience on the regional channel and on national channel Culturebox.
19th Dance Biennale to keep “rebounding” until 19 November 2021
The pandemic has forced the Biennale to expand its programming schedule in greater Lyon and across the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region: 26 dates will extend the festival into autumn – and thus attract many more spectators over the coming months!
The 20th Lyon Dance Biennale will take place in September 2023.