Socially distanced theatre world premiere to be staged at The Bowes Museum

The Two Fridas – (L-R) Performers from Balbir Singh Dance Company, Erica Mulkern (as Frida Kahlo) and Madhura Godbole (as Amrita Sher-Gil) posing during the launch of ‘The Two Fridas’ at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.

“It’s theatre, but not as we know it!”

On Saturday 19th September, The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, North East England will provide a beautiful glimpse into how global audiences will potentially experience dance theatre productions during these times of uncertainty in the arts, by showcasing a socially distanced outdoor ‘world premiere’ of The Two Fridas.

Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance and Balbir Singh Dance Company present a bold tribute to the creative heroine behind the brushstrokes of The Two Fridas – Mexican artist Frida Kahlo – one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. A twist in the tale will also see Kahlo share The Two Fridas spotlight with a celebration of the life, times and work of pioneering Hungarian-Indian avant-garde painter, Amrita Sher-Gil.  The production aims to immortalise two of the art world’s true inspirational figures.

One of the world’s most famous self-portraits [The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo] will be brought to life from the canvas to the stage through an intriguing mixture of storytelling, dance, music and live performance.

The creative palette of The Two Fridas will be an explosion of cultural and heritage references, pulling together emotional and imaginative elements from the eventful lives of both Kahlo and Sher-Gil in a production which fuses together Classical Indian Dance, Western Contemporary Dance and Mexican Dance.

The Two Fridas is being supported by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants Programme.

Billingham International Festival of World Dance is one of the UK’s oldest and most respected dance festivals, with over five decades of events under its belt. Olga Maloney, Artistic Director of the Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance, said: “We are so excited to be providing a pioneering looking glass into how dance theatre productions may appear in the future.  Like other festivals and theatre companies around the world we have been searching for ways to stage our work whilst simultaneously keeping audiences, performers and venue staff safe during these unprecedented times.

“The Two Fridas will hopefully set the benchmark for other projects to explore the use of outdoor space and interaction with buildings, where social distancing is made possible whilst also adding to the intrigue of the performance.  This is definitely what we are showcasing at The Bowes Museum in September.”

(L-R) Performers from Balbir Singh Dance Company, Madhura Godbole (as Amrita Sher-Gil) and Erica Mulkern (as Frida Kahlo) perfectly showing the art of social distancing during the launch of ‘The Two Fridas’ at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.

Jane Tarr, Director, North, Arts Council England, said: “During these unprecedented times we are seeing so many cultural organisations having to adapt and evolve the work they are doing to continue to create quality arts and culture. Billingham International Festival of World Dance and Balbir Singh Dance Company are doing just this as they begin to focus on their project The Two Fridas. I look forward to them bringing their unique approach to this extraordinary idea.”


Balbir Singh of Balbir Singh Dance Company, said: “This show represents how two women’s struggle to tackle adversity can be used as an inspiration for us all to deal with what life throws at us. The chemistry between dancer and artist; and the vibrant, explosive cultural connections extracted from India, Mexico and Hungary promises to be both emotional and playful.”

Rosie Bradford, Public Events Coordinator for The Bowes Museum, said: “We’re really delighted to host the World premiere of this exciting dance performance and can’t wait to see the production.  The Museum team is working closely with artists and organisers to find new ways to host events, so we can continue to bring world-class culture to our visitors safely.”

Tickets for the world premiere of The Two Fridas are priced at £12 and can be purchased from the Bowes museum. (£11 for Friends of Bowes Museum).

The performance will abide by socially distanced regulations providing a safe and comfortable environment for everyone involved.  Advanced booking is essential due to limited ticket numbers.

The performance commences at 6pm.

(L-R) Performers from Balbir Singh Dance Company, Erica Mulkern (as Frida Kahlo) and Madhura Godbole (as Amrita Sher-Gil) at the launch of ‘The Two Fridas’ at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle.

It is hoped that over the next 12 to 18-months the Billingham International Festival of World Dance and Balbir Singh Dance Company will take The Two Fridas on a tour of the United Kingdom, France, Mexico and Hungary – returning back to Billingham, North East England in 2021 for the 56th Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance in August.  

They will also create further layers to the show and develop an educational programme to accompany the production.

You can find further information about The Two Fridas here

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