[Announcement that I will close Arts in Leicester magazine]
5th September 2016
Arts in Leicestershire to close
After eleven years, Arts in Leicester is to close. The website will cease at the end of this year (2016). The main reason for this is that I want to concentrate my efforts on Music in Leicester magazine. I have enjoyed running the Arts magazine very much but it clashes with other things I want to do – such as writing books. Recruiting writers and people to help run the Arts magazine has not been successful. The music magazine has attracted more interest from volunteers. Now that Leicester has an alternative out let – in the shape of Great Central – the new magazine about culture and the arts – there is less need for what we do.
I will continue to publish Arts in Leicester up to December but I will pull then the plug and our website will be no more. Some of the articles current on the site will be transferred to other outlets and the whole thing will be archived off and stored away.
Leicester has always been a great city for the arts and culture and over the years I have been writing about it, the city has never failed to produce an endless supply of events, shows, festivals and new things of interest.
Good Friday and Christians gathered in Humberstone, in Leicester city centre, for a celebration of Easter, the Christian festival that marks the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It was a bright sunny morning at Humberstone Gate began to fill with people. A large stage had been assembled at the Charles Street end of the wide pedestrian concourse.
On stage was a full live band and enormous puppets took part in the enactment of various parts of the easter story.
In a dramatic scene, an actor, playing the part of Jesus, was raised on the stage to portray the crucifixion.
The crowd was invited to join in with singing led by local musician David Lewis who had written a song especially for this event. David also sings with the local band Once Vagrant Souls.
A lively and inspriational performance was given by local artist Jonezy, the hip-hop singer from Loughborough who is well known in Leicester.
The act of worship was opened with prayers from the acting bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd John Holbrook.
A welcome address was given by the Archdeacon of Leicester, Revd Dr Tim Stratford.
Scenes from the Easter story were enacted by giant puppets, making it easy for people to see what was happened from a long distance away.
A dramatic moment in the event was when an actor, playing Jesus, was hoisted up on stage, on a large wooden cross.
Public performances of the Easter story have been taking place in Leicester since the middle ages.
The whole of Humberstone Gate was filled with people, on this bright Friday morning and the local radio station was there to provide a live report.
Sheets were handed giving the words of the songs enabling people to join in with the singing, led by local musician David Lewis and backed by a substantial live band.
One of the highlights of the event was a performance by local hip-hop artist Jonezy, who performed several of his own songs, with plenty of zeal and energy. This proved to be a hit with the crowd, for people of all ages but especially for the youngsters who were there.
On stage, actors and puppeteers portrayed scenes from the easter story including palm Sunday and the Crucifixion.
The event was organised on an inter-demoninational basis, drawing in members of the Anglican and Methodist faith traditions.
Jonezy performed his song I’m Alive, a positive vibe affirmation of the way he feels and a testimony to his Christian faith.
Leicester is a city of festivals; every weekend, and sometimes during the week, there is always at least one festival in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Music, culture, dance, comedy… there is always an event going on to temp you into the city or out into the county.
Here is our our selection of what to expect in 2016
Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival is underway now; drawing people into Leicester’s venues, from all over the country.
The festival season kicks off at the end of May with the Glastonbudget festival held over the May bank holiday weekend. A host of bands and singers will gathered on the festival’s many stages to bring you all the best of new music from today and the most memorable tunes from yesteryear.
Leicester’s medieval Guildhall featured in the news today on the BBC’s East Midlands Today programme.
The piece described the Guildhall as one of the few surviving Jacobean ‘Theatres’.
The news item was prompted by work undertaken by the team working on The Shakespeare On Tour project who found that the various companies that performed the Bard’s plays visited many parts of the country, including Leicester.
A discovery in some ancient archives suggests that Shakespeare himself might have been present when the company visited Leicester’s Guildhall.
An entry in the city chamberlain’s accounts shows a payment of 40 shillings to a visiting theatre troupe.
If the troupe did in fact come to the Guidlhall in 1606 there is a chance, at least, that Shakespeare might have been with them.
The company, called The King’s Men, came to the city on several occasions after the death of The Bard.
LEICESTER is marking the start of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month by flying rainbow-coloured flags from the Town Hall and City Hall.
Assistant city mayor for community involvement and equalities, Cllr Manjula Sood, was joined by guests including Mark Beasley, chair of the Leicester Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Centre, to raise the flags at the Town Hall on Monday (1 February).
Councillor Sood said: “We recognise the important contribution that our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities make to life in the city and beyond. We’re committed to supporting these communities.
“LGBT history month is about promoting equality and diversity for the benefit of everyone, and Leicester has a long history of championing diversity.
“Raising the rainbow flag is a way for us to show our support, in the hope that we can all work together to create a fairer society.”
Councillor Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for equalities, said: “The county and city are united in their respect for all communities. I’m delighted that we will once again be raising the rainbow flag, as it demonstrates our unity of purpose in supporting LGBT communities.”
Mark Beasley said: “The Pride flag allows us to show our respect and pride to those who have been instrumental in bringing equality to the forefront of everyone’s agenda. It demonstrates how as a society, the UK has taken big steps towards full inclusion of LGBT people.
“It also portrays our commitment as we strive to make Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland a place where everyone can feel proud and safe to be themselves.”
Representatives from Leicestershire Police, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, Leicestershire County Council, local charity Trade and Leicester’s LGBT Centre joined the flag-raising ceremony at the Town Hall.
29th January 2016
Attenborough opens gallery
The naturalist and long-running television personality Sir David Attenborough returned to the place of his Leicester childhood today (Friday 29 January) to open a new fully-inclusive gallery championed by his brother Lord Attenborough.
Sir David officially opened the new £1.5million gallery extension at Attenborough Arts Centre, the University of Leicester’s inclusive, multi-use arts venue on Lancaster Road.
Source: University of Leicester
19th January 2016
Black Women and Dance
Jessica Walker of Serendipity-UK told us ; Black Women In Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers conference is happening May 10th 2016 at Leicester City Hall. The founder of the legendary American performance ensemble Urban Bush Women, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, will be keynote speaker and discuss the achievements of black women in the dance industry.
This is a fantastic opportunity for dancers and enthusiasts to network with industry professionals. Booking has opened for a much needed one-day conference, celebrating the impact Black Women have had on the international dance ecology from the early trailblazers to the contemporary ground breakers. Taking place on Tuesday 10 May 2016, as part of Lets Dance International Frontiers 2016, Black Women in Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers, will reflect upon the challenges that have faced Black Women in the world of dance, but also celebrate the tenacity, strength and creativity of these women.
The conference, will explore the aesthetics that have shaped Black dance internationally. Examining the struggle for a sustainable Black voice in the UK dance scene, giving appreciation to companies such as Phoenix Dance and Ballet Black, and dance agencies such as ADAD and State of Emergency, who have long strived to ensure that the cultural landscape of British Dance reflects the Black British presence. To examining dance practice in America; from the classical repertories of Alvin Ailey and Dance Theatre of Harlem, through to Urban Bush Women.
The key-note speaker is award-winning founder and visionary partner of Urban Bush Women; Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. The company will also be in Leicester for LDIF16, presenting a UK debut at Curve, nearly 30 years after their last performance in Leicester.
Speakers include Adesola Akinleye, DancingStrong; Deborah Baddoo, State of Emergency; Hilary S. Carty, Co-Creatives Consulting; Catherine Dénécy; Pam Johnson, Arts Council England; Mercy Nabirye, ADAD; Maureen Salmon, Freshwaters Consultancy; Louise Sutton, Arts Council England; Jessica Walker, De Montfort University; Sharon Watson, Phoenix Dance Theatre. The event will be hosted by Pawlet Brookes, Serendipity. The conference will focus on the creativity of Black Women in dance and also examine the role of infrastructure to support artists, and agencies as proponents of Black dance.
Pawlet Brookes, artistic director, Serendipity said “A central aim of LDIF and our annual conference is to give a voice to untold and under-told stories in dance; the personal histories that have shaped the dance ecology but may go unheard or under acknowledged. Black Women in Dance will place those stories centre stage. I also hope the conference will lead to discussion and debate from across the sector to pave the way for future generations”.
Jessica Walker, young emerging artist, said “Even now, Black women are undergoing a continuous contention with their representations in the media and are in need of empowerment across all platforms. This concern is not only prevalent in the UK but exists on both sides of the Atlantic. The conference Black Women in Dance: Stepping Out of the Barriers will see a community come together to discuss and celebrate Black women in the dance sector.”
Imperatively, the conference will give a voice to women in dance, to tell their own stories, share their own perspectives, highlight key issues and work towards making a bright future for Black Women in Dance.
Serendipity is a diversity-led organisation with the specific aim of working in partnership with mainstream organisations to showcase high quality, culturally diverse work that reflects the demographic profile of the UK.
that hundreds of people took to the streets today to celebrate Leicester’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And what a marvellous event it was.
The parade started at Orton Square and made its way to Victoria Park.
As with all Pride parades there was the huge rainbow flag, the international symbol of gay pride, carried by a team of people, happy to show the world what being out and proud is all about.
The crowd gathered at Victoria Park to enjoy a day of live music from the main stage and from the DJ tent for a show that lasted from 12 noon to 8pm.
On the main stage Councillor Rory Palmer, the deputy Mayor of Leicester, welcomed everyone on behalf of the city’s authorities.
The stage brought a host of singers and dancers and entertainers.
Artists from Leicester and around the UK came on stage to entertain the crowd.
Two artists in particular were of international standing. Sam Bailey, from Leicestershire and a winner of the TV series X Factor, was one of the star attractions of the day.
Sam sang many of the songs for which she is known and remembered.
Another artist who is famous throughout the world is Lisa Lashes.
During her appearance pyrotecnic artists put on some dazzling displays.
The stage provided a whole day of entertainment free of charge for everybody who wanted to be there.
The weather was kind giving festival-goers sunny periods and dry conditions throughout the day.
Artists on the programme included:
Lisa Lashes (DJ) , Robbie Lewis, (DJ), Gareth Hazard (DJ), Alex Dewinter (DJ), Bimbo Jones (DJ), Andy Smith (DJ), Rob Lambeth (DJ), Sparki Trowell (DJ). Stephen Bailey, Miss Marty, Miss Penny, Diva Fever, Brenda Edwards, Chris Shaulders, Lee Bennett, Lea Martin.
In an article about A History of Pride and Why We Need It, in the programme, is said
Influenced by the Stonewall Rebellion in the USA that started on 28th June 1969, The first UK Pride rally was hel in London in 1972 with 1,000 people marching from Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park, only five years after relations between two males had been decriminalised. The people who marched in this rally would have been subject to barrage of abuse and misconceptions somewhat similar to that seen only last year at a Gay Pride festival in Russia.
Nothing like this happened in Leicester in 2015. It was a day that many will remember with happiness and joy.
In this page we present some of the news archives from the old Arts in Leicester website, included here where they have relevance to current articles published in this magazine.
8th January 2013
Nilima Devi is Awarded MBE
Nilima Devi Menski, the founder and Artistic Director of the Centre for Indian Classical Dance (CICD), in Leicester, has been announced as a recipient of an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2013 for her services to dance.
The award has been granted in recognition of Nilima Devi’s sustained commitment to promoting Indian dance for British arts, multicultural education and community cohesion for over 30 years.
Leicester’s councillor and former Mayor, Manjula Sood said “I am very thrilled to hear that Nilima’s work within the cultural community has been noticed and rewarded.”
Chris Maughan, Associate Research Fellow Lecturer, Arts and Festival Management, De Montfort University commented, “it is richly deserved. Let’s hope it provides a foundation for invigorating ideas and energy in arts development more broadly.”
Under Nilima Devi’s leadership, CICD has made significant educational and artistic contributions through numerous workshops, conferences, classes and public performances on local, regional and national scales. In addition to nurturing more than 20,000 students in Indian dance through teaching in schools, Nilima Devi has pioneered projects such as Sinjini (2009), a DVD on Indian music and dance produced using UK-based artists, and Karman, (2012), a book documenting the living history of arts in the South Asian diaspora, which have become invaluable resources for educational establishments.
Nilima Devi has also produced many major performance works such as the Ugly Duckling (1989), Triangle (1991), Rainbow (1993) (choreographed by Kumudini Lakhia), Melory (1995), Dances of the Spheres (1999) (choreographed by Roshan Date), Flaming Feet (2000), Kathak Tells a Story (2001), Images (2004) and Urjah (2007), which have contributed to transcending cultural and artistic boundaries whilst retaining the spirit of Indian dance.
In addition, Nilima Devi has trained several accomplished British-born dance artists, such as Aakash Odedra, who has been touring Rising with the British Council in India and internationally, a solo production choreographed by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan.
The MBE is to be presented by the Queen at a special ceremony to be held at Buckingham Palace in London in 2013.
[From Arts in Leicestershire, news section, 2013]
Karman: groundbreaking heritage project tells the story of Indian Classical Dance
By Asian Arts Editor [the late] Harjinder Ohbi
It was 30 years ago when Nilima Devi, an Indian classical Kathak dancer threw open her doors to a handful of young girls wanting to learn this intricate but colourful dance form.
This gave birth to CICD (Centre for Indian Classical Dance.) Parents eager to revisit their own Indian roots encouraged their children to join the classes. Later, as years passed by, these students went onto become mothers and teachers, having made the gruelling grades, passing on their knowledge to third and fourth generations.
CICD led the way for visiting professional dancers from Bharatnatyam and Odissa holding masterclasses whilst Nilima also introduced folk, street and bollywood dances, as demanded by youngsters.
Numerous groundbreaking shows at various local and National venues gave way to young male dancers who went onto become International artists. Akram Khan and Akaash Odedra brought forth a new dimension to Kathak with their innovative styles and fluidity within their choreography, earning rave reviews where ever they performed.
It is no surprise then that the year long 30th anniversary celebrations of CICD last year was to lead to Karman the book. Karman literally means a collection of past work .You will find interviews with young performers and how they have managed to incorporate their traditional dance forms during their daily lives and what it means to them.It is an historic account documenting not only achievements based on over 70 hours of oral history interviews by a host of voluntary historians aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The books theme also explores the social changes related to these developments thus presenting a unique piece of history that has never been exhibited in Leicester before. Karman is a project very special for me as it explores the living history of Indian classical dance in the UK. It exhibits the roots of Indian classical dance and music through contributions by early pioneers, professional dancers, musicians, members of the community and art lovers.
There were several aspects to the formation of CICD from spirituality, keeping fit and bringing one’s culture, mind, body and soul together. The opening of the Centre, in 1981, came as a blessing for the young women eager to learn Indian classical dance.
They later introduced Indian Folk styles. It was not always easy to make CICD sustainable at times but they made it happen through performances and sheer passion shown by the youngsters. Whilst the support of Local Authorities and the Arts Council England made it possible to work within local schools and communities, that helped them to create a greater interest, reaching a wider public.
Many of the students have gone onto become teachers whilst the likes of Akram Khan and Aakash Odedra have won International acclaim. I feel theirs is an extension of the form of Kathakand, a modern way of interpreting it. “Traditional art is not static, it moves with the times”, concluded Nilima Devi, Artistic Director of CICD.
The official book launch and exhibition [was] staged at the LCB Depot on 14 June 2012
The touring exhibition opened at the Embrace Centre (11th-27th May 2012) and [was] staged at the following venues:
Peepul Centre, 28th May – 8th June
LCB Depot, 11th – 22nd June
Hamilton Library, 03 July – 17th July
St.Barnabas Library, 17th – 30th July
South Fields Library, 31 July – 15 August
BBC Radio Leicester 01 – 17 October
CurveTheatre, 8 – 19 November
Highfiields Library, 19 – 30 November
Black History Month (BHM) returns to Leicester, celebrating the heritage, history and achievements of African and African Caribbean communities with a full programme of events, from arts to education.
BHM runs throughout October, and this year’s theme acknowledges jazz icon Billie Holiday in what is the centenary year of her birth. In fitting homage, the festival launches on Friday 25 September with Strange Fruit: A Tribute to Billie Holiday, showcasing a selection of talented locally based singers and musicians.
Included in the line-up is Carol Leeming, renowned as a hugely versatile artist with a very powerful and distinct vocal style; innately skilled, innovative performer of song, spoken word, jazz vocalese and scat, Mellow Baku; established jazz vocalist Dee Joseph; and emerging talents Lydia Unsudimi and Ili Sanchea, alongside musical accompaniment from saxophonist Marcus Joseph, double bass player Mark Trounson and drummer Paul Whistler, under the musical direction of Neil Hunter. Those attending the event are encouraged to embrace the 40s and 50s jazz club scene by dressing up in their best cocktail dresses and dinner suits, in what will be a unique event at Leicester’s City Hall.
Black History Month is organised by local diversity-led arts charity, Serendipity, on behalf of Leicester City Council, which provides funding.
Numerous events will be taking place across the city during October, including workshops, lectures and book talks, music events, comedy and theatre. Upstairs at the Western pub, in Western Road, host Michelle Inniss will present her thought-provoking new play She Called Me Mother, which stars esteemed actor Cathy Tyson, and the witty Doc Brown makes an appearance at The Y with The Weird Way Round. Doc has gained fame on Russell Howard’s Good News and YouTube.
In partnership with Serendipity, the Phoenix will be screening a series of films from biopics and documentaries to ground-breaking Hollywood classics Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Stormy Weather.
Visitors to Leicester Libraries will be able to hear some Somali Lullabies, while the city’s museums service will be presenting a talk highlighting the contribution of The West Indian Regiment in the Great War.
This year also sees the introduction of a new initiative by 2Funky Arts. BHM Radio 2Funky will empower local young people to present and produce radio shows, providing further information about the BHM programme alongside music, news and documentary features.
Pawlet Brookes, artistic director at Serendipity said: “This year’s Black History Month programme is a fantastic opportunity for people in Leicester to come together, with a range of events celebrating the cultural contributions of the African and African Caribbean community historically, and also providing platforms for emerging talent to showcase their work.
“It is a privilege to oversee Black History Month in Leicester. There is something for everyone, and we hope that people across the city will make the most of the opportunity to attend some of the exciting events BHM 2015 has to offer.”
Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, leisure, heritage and sport, said: “Black History Month is once again offering a fantastic range of events that showcase the talent, history and rich culture of the black community.
“Black History Month is a chance for everyone in Leicester to celebrate the important contribution the black community has made to our city and beyond. I hope that lots of people will take this opportunity to get involved.”
was set up because there was such a hunger for a drama group in Leicester designed specifically for ‘Real kids with natural ability’.
URBAN is a drama workshop for young people between the ages of 8 and 21. Our session plans change weekly and consist of improvisation, script work, drama games, theatre work, filming projects, play writing, showcasing, confidence building but most importantly FUN! We are a specialist drama school and that is our main focus.
Are you ready for Project LE1? On the 12th & 13th September our Over 16s will be performing an original, innovative and interactive promenade project. Your help is needed to solve a young girl’s murder.
Arts in Leicester attended the Sunday night performance of LE1, held at Quad Studios in Friday Street, Leicester.
It was a very enjoyable evening; we enjoyed the performance. It was a promenade theatre, in which the audience (and some of the actors) walked round and saw various scenes from the drama, enacted in various parts of the building and in different rooms.
This new approach to theatre was very original and refreshing. All of the young actors were good and put on impressive performances.
The story told of the murder of Maya Johnson (played by Alisha Mehta). The audience played the role of judge and jury and was asked to decide who had committed the murder.
The audience were shown four suspects and had to vote for which one they thought committed the murder.
In a surprise ending, the ghost of Maya appeared and confessed she had poisoned herself. So, a suicide rather than a murder.
The cast had been rehearsing the drama since June; the words they spoke was improvised within a framework for the plot as a whole. We saw some impressively good performances, particularly by the presenter, Jonathan Crawley (played by Lois Gale) and by Kirk Langstrom (played by Charlie Riggall). Alisha Mehta’s closing soliloquy as the ghost of Maya Johnson, explaining how she met her death, was both moving and dramatically superb.
For a group of young actors this was a very engaging and impressive piece of drama.
Technical production was executed by Jamie Borland.
The drama was devised by Melissa Smith and the cast.
About Urban Young Actors
We want to inspire young people to be the best that they can be. So often it has been the case that because children may have been unable to attend a local drama group due to expensive class fees or locations they have never realised their talents and full creative potential. We often hear also that children have not felt comfortable/confident in other groups- this does not happen at Urban- we really are like one big family! The positive effects a good drama group can have on a young person are immeasurable. We at Urban Young Actors believe that setting up a safe, secure and creative environment helps children to grow in a positive manner, which can enhance all areas of life. It is a wonderful thing to attend a workshop with like-minded individuals and to feel a sense of personal achievement after every session. We aim to have a diverse mix of children in our group who will be keen to work together and learn from each other.
The group is entry on audition only. The main reason for this is to ensure personal attention and encouragement to each child therefore our numbers are limited. We also want to maintain a high quality of actors to continue our excellent relationships with casting directors. We are looking for ‘Real’ kids with a natural ability, willingness to learn, and a strong dedication to the group. It is very important children attend their 2 hour session every week to show their commitment to the group.