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Bell Square starts the season with Akademi performing Sufi:Zen

Well wasn't May 19 just the perfect weather for a Royal Wedding and perhaps even an FA Cup Final? And of course, it was even more perfect for our first event of the year at Bell Square, featuring Akademi and the very popular Sufi:Zen.

You can check out the daytime performance in this Facebook Live video below - unusually the dancers were wearing shoes and the reason was because the black material on the staged area was very hot due to the sun beating down on it all day. The evening event proved to be a bit cooler and we were delighted to host large crowds for both events.

We have had some brilliant feedback on social media as well which we are really pleased with such as this tweet from @Kamalpreet

And this lovely post from @ambikajois on @instagram - please share your great experiences too as we read all the messages sent and love to hear your stories.

 

Next month we have C-12 Dance Theatre performing Trolleys on Saturday 2 June, 1pm & 3pm

We look forward to seeing you there.

To keep up with upcoming events, visit our What’s On pages here - news of 2018 upcoming events will be announced shortly.

And if you are attending Bell Square events – don’t forget to share your experiences on social media using the #BellSquareLDN hash tag.

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From our Artistic Director: A Preview of the Spring & Summer Season

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Come to an amazing array of outdoor performance from the UK & abroad. Bell Square returns for 2018 with a packed programme of amazing outdoor performance.  

From May to August, you can see 8 world-class shows at our permanent outdoor arts space in Hounslow.

These extraordinary shows come from some of the best artists in the UK and from across Europe – in the first few months, we have shows from France and Italy, Belgium and Catalonia, as well as from the UK.  The programme also brings many other influences from around the world, including international choreographers and different cultural styles.

They also bring a wonderful mix of dance, theatre, music and circus.   2018 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of circus in London – and we will join in the national celebrations throughout the year with our own programme of contemporary circus at Bell Square.

Most importantly, this new programme of events will bring together our local communities to laugh, play, watch in awe - and contemplate the stories of life that affect us all.

And to do this together in our public space, where everyone is welcome to come along and watch for free.

The season opens on 19 May with the return of Hounslow favourites, Akademi, with their renowned show, Sufi Zen.  This beautiful dance performance explores the stillness of Zen monks and the passion of Sufi mystics. Evoking a cultural landscape that extends from Persia to Japan, Sufi Zen exists in a world of contrasts, of calmness and energy, and ice and fire.

June is then all about fun!  London-based C-12 Dance Theatre bring their show, Trolleys.  A collaboration with famed Australian choreographer, Shaun Parker, Trolleys is part dance, part ballet, and part outdoor spectacle – it is a ballet for five shopping trolleys!  This is high octane contemporary dance, acrobatics and street dance, merged with the extraordinary world of trolleys!

Then the circus comes to town.  Sur Mesure from Belgium bring their show, Fillage, combining circus and live music in a show set on a sunny afternoon at the beach.  Sax, trumpet, trombone, guitar, singing, and even an enormous sousaphone, accompany the fun and frolics, juggling and acrobatics - and all on a giant trampoline!

At the end of June, urban dance hits Bell Square from St Etienne in France.  Cie Dyptik perform D-Construction, a show that questions the profound nature of social links in public space.  What unites us? What separates us? What federates us? And to what extent are we able to question territories, borders and institutions?  The show is performed on a giant cage, with the audience up close, in the midst of the action.

In July, we welcome back Insectotropics, the outstanding Catalan company that brought their dark retelling of Red Riding Hood to Bell Square in 2015.  Using their trademark mix of digital projections, live painting and performance, The Legend of the Burning Man tells the story of Mohammed Bouazizi who sparked the Arab Spring when he set himself on fire in protest at the authorities in Tunisia.  The show examines the spread of news across the internet, how social media offers partial and self-interested perspectives, and how public opinion and feelings are manipulated. Who controls what we believe?

Next up is Gandini Juggling, a London-based company led by Sean Gandini who make extraordinary shows, challenging everybody’s assumptions about what juggling can be.  The Gandinis often collaborate with other artists and in Sigma, they worked with Seeta Patel, one of the UK’s leading Bharatnatyam dancers, to combine contemporary circus with Indian dance.  The rhythms of the dance are reflected in the patterns of the juggling – completely entrancing! We are really delighted to have this show at Bell Square as it was made here in Hounslow, at Watermans, last summer before going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and scoring a string of 4 and 5 star reviews.  Welcome home to this one!

In August, Stalker Teatro come from Turin in Italy for their visit to Bell Square.  Stalker work with people to make social theatre. In Steli, the artists and audience work together to build a giant construction of colourful wooden sticks.  The project is inspired by how we live in cities today and allows us to build something beautiful together.

On the August bank holiday weekend, we welcome back Cirque Rouages from France with their stunning, night-time circus show.  A nostalgic story of love and loss, longing, memories and survival is told by two musicians playing and singing on a huge circus structure of wheels and tightropes.  My greatest disappointment last year was when torrential rain stopped this show going ahead at Bell Square – and there were many people who had come to see it who were very disappointed, too.  It is a beautiful and completely enchanting performance as dusk fades into darkness - so we decided to try again. This year, the weather is going to be perfect!

Check out the full details at www.bellsquarelondon.com.  And let us know what you think of the 2018 programme on twitter @BellSquareLDN or Facebook – BellSquareLDN.

Special thanks to Arts Council England and LB Hounslow for their support of the programme.

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From our Artistic Director: Never Work with Animals!

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From our Artistic Director: Never Work with Animals!

In the depths of winter, the Bell Square events take a break.  On these cold, dark February days, my mind often wanders back to the balmy days of summer when we were out on the Square, remembering some of the shows, having chats with the audience, and working with some truly lovely artists. And it also wanders back sometimes to the little things that, just occasionally, didn’t go quite to plan….

Never work with animals… ‘Never work with animals’ is good, sage advice for anyone working in the arts.  It is a lesson which should be absorbed as soon as possible by anyone starting out in the arts.  Whenever I have digressed from this advice, it has always ended badly.  A donkey falling off the stage into the orchestra pit.  A bat flying loose above the audience.  Diana Rigg, playing Cleopatra, wrestling with a hot and feisty snake as she prepared to thrust the ‘asp to her bosom’.  I could write a book on this topic, never mind a blog post.

This sage advice, though, never mentioned animals in the audience.  When we’re not at Bell Square, we all work at Watermans, the arts centre in Brentford.  In a venue, only highly trained and perfectly behaved guide dogs or assistance dogs generally come to events.  (There are odd exceptions, of course.)

But out at Bell Square, things are different.   Alongside the audience gathered for the event, passers-by often stop to watch what’s going on.  And sometimes furry passers-by stop to watch, too…

Dogs There have been many dogs at Bell Square events over the years – large, small, young and a bit giddy, some old and just glad of a lie-down at the side of the Square whilst their owner watches a show.  Some join in with a few barks when the audience cheers a circus artist for an impressive performance.  But none has put a foot wrong - or a paw.

Cats Cats.  I know cats.  And I know they have their own minds.  Four years of regular events have proven to me that cats do not like outdoor arts – there is never a cat in the audience.  Alternatively, there are no cats in Hounslow town centre.  Only once did a confident black cat turn the corner onto the Square, hesitate barely a second, then stroll nonchalantly across the performance space – whilst the actors just had to wait.

And others…. But it’s not just cats and dogs.  Hounslow is way more interesting than that.  The blue and yellow macaw, often seen on the shoulder of its owner walking around the town centre, has been to events sometimes, watching intently.  And thankfully silently.

Not all our furry and feathered friends are quite so welcome, however.  At the opposite end of the avian spectrum, pigeons make a nuisance of themselves in most urban arts venues.  Pigeons alone would fill a chapter in that book I could write.  Pigeons just walking straight through the front doors of the venue and up to the bar – regularly.  That was in Manchester.  Pigeons moving into the roof space and setting up an instant colony.  And creating the most shocking and appalling sight of my entire life when I went up to see what was making ‘that strange noise’ above the ceiling.  That was also in Manchester.  They are particularly bad pigeons up there.

At Bell Square, the local pigeons have generally not been much trouble. There was just one occasion, when a performer, as part of the show, threw handfuls of rice all over the Square.  And within seconds, every pigeon in Hounslow descended, en masse, Hitchcock-style, over the audience and the Square.  I suppose you could say we brought that (s$*t) on ourselves.

When I write that book, though, I’m sure it will only be Bell Square that has produced a ferret.  It was on a lead.  It came up to the edge of the performance space calmly, quietly, creating no fuss at all.  The show was about to start and a hush had fallen over the audience.  The music had started and the quietly enigmatic dancers of Akademi had walked onto the performance space to begin their show, Sufi Zen.  Yes, a show about Zen.  As the small, creamy coloured weasel paused to watch, a palpable wave of anxiety spread through the audience.  All focus on the dancers was lost, and the first person to scream unleashed an unimaginable cacophony of horror and fear from the assembled crowd.  The ferret, and its owner, sensing their presence was unwelcome, shuffled off up the High Street.  After some time, a suitable calm prevailed and the show could begin…again.

What next? So, Hounslow, who else are you going to bring to the shows this year?  There must be some rabbits out there who might like circus?

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Happy New Year from Bell Square - a poem from us

Welcome to 2018 and we would like to take the opportunity to share with you another great piece of writing from one of our attendees.

Bell Square Ambassador Catherine watched FlameOz, our last event of 2017, and wrote this joyous, beautiful poem, read it in full below

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Flame OZ

Tonight was a performance by Flame OZ

It left the crowd in awes

The three fire musketeers

Receive all our cheers

For they filled us with delight

With their amazing fire light

 

There were pendulums of light

That were a fiery sight

Although their actions seemed random

They moved in tandem

 

Next was the light sabre

That created many a chamber

Of hearts and butterflies

Mimicking a thousand fireflies

 

The finale had fountains of light

The sizzling flares

Made everyone forget their cares

Not minding the scorches from torches

 

Faces in the blaze aglow

As ‘Merry Xmas’ flashed

Their steps matched

Everyone was soon mellow

Voices began to soon bellow

Praises and claps from every fellow

---- ends ----

Thank you again Catherine for your great contribution, we love poetry!

 

To keep up with upcoming events, visit our What’s On pages here - news of 2018 upcoming events will be announced shortly.

And if you are attending Bell Square events – don’t forget to share your experiences on social media using the #BellSquareLDN hash tag.

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A BEAUTIFUL POEM FROM BELL SQUARE AMBASSADOR CATHERINE

Our ever popular Winter Lights event was held at Bell Square recently - and as you can see from the photo gallery it's a dazzling and beautiful for everyone that comes along.  As always, it's a free event and everyone is welcome.

One of our Bell Square Ambassadors Catherine came along and was inspired to write this beautiful poem, read it in full below

WINTER LIGHTS
The ceremony of winter lights
A harbinger of many cold nights
Lit up with many-hued beacons of hope
Held by the future of tomorrow
& yesterday’s shadow
Making memories new
And brushing old ones anew
 
At the church, a sea of illuminated creatures
Heard the mayor praise Hounslow’s features
She sparked the fire
Of Hounslow’s desire
Up went the gargantuan bell held by a rope
As did the lady on the tight rope
 
There resounded in the air
An echo, as a hundred rockets did flare
And the speakers did blare
Hounslow was the place to be
For all those who did dare!
- Catherine Habbie

Thank you Catherine - we love your writing and poetry!

 

To keep up with upcoming events, visit our What’s On pages here

And if you are attending Bell Square events – don’t forget to share your experiences on social media using the #BellSquareLDN hash tag.

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