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Dance Project commissioned for IF

Date Posted:16/01/2014

The Stables has been selected to receive a prestigious ‘Exceptional Award’ of £215,000 from Arts Council England for ‘Under The Vaulted Sky’ - an ambitious dance project commissioned from choreographer Rosemary Lee for IF: Milton Keynes International Festival 2014.

Award-winning choreographer Rosemary Lee has been inspired by Milton Keynes’ magical Cathedral of Trees in Newlands to create ‘Under The Vaulted Sky’. The performances in July 2014 will be the culmination of a year-long residency that will have seen Rosemary work with professional and non-professional dancers from across the region.

Situated on an ancient ley line that runs through Central Milton Keynes, The Cathedral of Trees was planted more than 40 years ago on the exact footprint of Norwich Cathedral by landscape architect Neil Higson. Different species of trees represent the character of the Cathedral's sections - hornbeam and tall-growing lime for the nave, evergreens to represent the central tower and spires, flowering cherry and apple as a focus in the chapels. In springtime, colourful bulbs represent the sun shining through stained glass windows onto the ground.

Rosemary’s vision for ‘Under The Vaulted Sky’ will feature the participation of 100 dancers, live music and a specially-composed soundscape commissioned from award-winning composer and instrument maker Terry Mann. The audience will be invited to ‘promenade’ - to move and follow the performance as it weaves around the atmospheric environment of the Cathedral.

Rosemary is now looking for 100 participants of all ages and experience from the Milton Keynes area to perform in ‘Under The Vaulted Sky’. Participants must be able to take part in a series of workshops and rehearsals from April to July, following taster workshops in March. for more information and an application form.

The Extraordinary Award is one of a handful of strategic investments to be made this year by Arts Council England to help deliver its strategic vision of Great Art for Everyone. IF: Milton Keynes International Festival was founded in 2010 and is produced every two years by The Stables as part of its commitment to help raise the artistic adventure of one of the UK’s fastest growing cities.

Monica Ferguson, Chief Executive and Artistic Director said “We are delighted and honoured to receive this Exceptional Award from Arts Council England to enable us to bring the beautiful Cathedral of Trees to life with dance and, with the support of all the partners involved, deliver a truly inspiring event.”

Councillor Andrew Geary, Leader of Milton Keynes Council said “Arts Council England’s Exceptional Award to our International Festival is testament to the huge success of the Festival both locally and nationally, and in turn recognises the city’s support of this innovative showcase for the arts. Milton Keynes is a rapidly-growing, progressive and forward-thinking city, and the transformation of its landscape every two years for extraordinary Festival events is now part of the city’s DNA.”

Rosemary Lee said: “The Cathedral of Trees is a source of great inspiration and a beautiful place to work in - a magical, tranquil, little-known green space amidst the busy city. I’m very much looking forward to working with local people who will take part in the production alongside professional dancers, designers, musicians and film-makers, and also then welcoming people to experience the production.”

‘Under The Vaulted Sky’ is also supported by Milton Keynes Council, The Parks Trust and South East Dance, and sponsored by the University of Bedfordshire. It will premiere over the first weekend of the 10-day International Festival that will also feature music, comedy, contemporary circus and cabaret in a beautiful Belgian Spiegeltent; a spectacular fire and water event on Willen Lake; and a festival for children.

IF: Milton Keynes International Festival runs across various locations and venues in Central Milton Keynes from 18 to 27 July 2014.