Dance Umbrella recently announced the appointment of its new Artistic Director and Chief Executive
Dance Umbrella is London’s international dance festival, celebrating 21st century choreography across the capital and beyond. Freddie Opoku-Addaie who has been a guest programmer at the festival from 2016-19, takes over from Emma Gladstone in March. He will be the fourth person to hold this position in 43 years.
Opoku-Addaie is a critically acclaimed choreographer, dancer/performer, curator and teacher and is also the recipient of several choreographic awards and commissions. The East London-born, Ghanaian’s heritage informs his art practice through which he references disparate movement styles, folkloric themes, and structured choreography to make witty, conversational, and affecting work.
He was Guest Programmer for Dance Umbrella during a three-year initiative from 2016-2019. His Out Of The System programme presented exhilarating work by dance practitioners from the UK and abroad.
Freddie Opoku-Addaie said of his appointment: “I am thrilled to be working with the fantastic Dance Umbrella team again as the next Artistic Director and Chief Executive, following on from the visionary Emma Gladstone. I’m seeing and listening to a generation of artists, creatives and communities who are fuelling a shared movement beyond the established mainstream platforms. This is an opportunity of a lifetime to tangibly expand the global festival stage for contemporary dance and performance. The artist and audience experience has shifted beyond 3Ts (Tick Box/Tokenism/Tolerated) of diversity. In challenging times it’s more essential than ever that we collaborate to deliver some exciting moves.“
Chair of Dance Umbrella Board, Jake Ulrich said: “We couldn’t be happier or more excited about Freddie leading the festival into the future. Our long-standing relationship with him, coupled with his vision and expertise made him a stand-out candidate in a very strong field. This is a game-changing appointment for us. I cannot wait to see how his plans and ideas develop.“
As well as performing with Internationally renowned artists and companies, Opoku-Addaie has choreographed and performed in a catalogue of high profile productions including his breakthrough work Silence Speaks Volumes, and Fidelity Project (conceived/co-created/performed with Frauke Requardt) both of which reached the Bloomberg Place Prize finals in 2006 and 2010-2011 respectively. His compelling duet with Jorge Crecis Bf was selected by Aerowaves/Dance Across Europe Aerowaves Twenty, and other commissions include Mis-thread presented at Dance Umbrella 2010, Remaining Energy commissioned by the Barbican – thrillingly performed in response to and with Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich’s installation Dalston House, and the witty solo work Show Of Hands commissioned by Dance Umbrella in 2013. Freddie’s work has been performed in the UK, Romania, Spain, Italy, Canada, Brazil, and India.
He is also founder, director, and curator of SystemsLAB, a platform that offers slack-time for multi-faceted, mid-career artists, invaluable in raising important questions about contemporary dance history and the framework and voices within the industry. And a highly experienced teacher, leading courses including an Adult Choreography Course at Siobhan Davies Studios in London. He is also a part-time lecturer in Performing Arts at the University of East London; previously guest composition lecturer at London Contemporary Dance School; a Studio Wayne McGregor Dance Artist, and Visiting Fellow Artist at the Queen Mary University, London.
Opoku-Addaie has regularly featured on select panels including at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Siobhan Davies Dance, Pavilion Dance South West in Bournemouth, the British Council IETM, and the Edinburgh Fringe showcase, plus attending international festivals including Dance Gathering in Nigeria, Aerowaves – Dance across Europe, Dance Massive Platform in Melbourne, Australia.
A former recipient of the Robin Howard Commission (Mis-thread), One Dance UK (Dance of the African Diaspora), Trailblazer Fellow/Champion at The Place for (co-curating their annual showcase events (2016) he was an Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House/ROH2 (2009-12).
Opoku-Addaie starts his new role full time from May.