International Dance Festival Birmingham

Next week, and for the next month, Birmingham will be taken over by International Dance Festival Birmingham. Some of the dancers will be keeping themselves to the proper venues around town but many of them won't, with performances happening in some unexpected places.The programme is massive and includes some big name crowd-pleasers (Strictly Come Dancing, Ballet Nacional de Cuba), some impressive UK talent (Akram Khan Company, Rosie Kay Dance Company) and something just a little bit different (Running Sushi, Sutra, CIRCA).I've picked out a few things from the beginning, middle and end of the festival. They all look good and, what's more, they're all freebies.The launchOn Monday 19 April a barge will set off on a three week journey leaving from the back of the ICC by Strada (opposite The Water’s Edge, Brindleyplace). Dancing The Waterways will feature a new dance piece called 'Canal Work Dances' that has been specially created for this event. Over the next three weeks the barge will stop off for performances in Wolverhampton and Brewood before returning.The big eventFrom what I can tell, UTOPIA will have to be seen to be believed. The official blurb describes it like this:

Horned figures in gleaming gold make their presence felt while rituals, fire and a relentless stampede of exotic dances and frenzied songs bring together this riotous 40-strong cast in a 30 minute outdoor extravaganza unlike any other!

It's a free event happening in Victoria Square five times between 1-3 May, so shouldn't be too hard to miss.The finaleSt Martin's Square in the Bullring is hosting an afternoon of free performances and dance demos, rounding off the festival with a mass synchronised hip hop/street dance routine lead by acclaimed French hip-hop artist Salah. That's on Saturday 15 May from 12pm to 6.30pm and they're calling it Put Your Foot Down.