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DaDafest Part 2

Emma Emma | 13:21 UK time, Monday, 8 September 2008

When last we spoke, I was heading off to DaDa in the Yard. There, on a cold and drizzly afternoon, a decent amount of people turned out to see some great disability performances. Opera star Denise Leigh and her accordion virtuoso husband treated us to songs from some of the most well known operas. I recorded a sneaky audio clip (MP3).

Denise Leigh performing

There was some fun sign singing from Deaf group the Alexandras and Open Arts Community Choir from Northern Ireland, as seen on Last Choir Standing, regaled us with some fabulous choral singing. My favourite was the coffee and tea song. Here's a clip I recorded later at the night time show. Open Arts Choir (MP3)

After a wander around all the art on display, including Ju Gosling's Abnormal, and Kevin Connolly's Rolling exhibition, I took some friends to see A (Gay, Disabled, Transsexual) Love Story, As Told To A Ticket Collector at Alton Towers. The title is a bit of a mouthful, but the play itself is accessible, fun, sexy and warm-hearted. Robert Softly and company have already performed this work at the Edinburgh Fringe, but hopefully it will tour the country some day. It's just so entertaining!

The main show that night featured two premiers, Claire Cunningham's Mobile, which is a modern dance piece exploring her feelings around using crutches to get about, and Beauty and the Beast, featuring Mat Fraser. This was certainly an alternative version of the fairytale, and with much high drama and plenty of nudity, it certainly made a statement. The piece had folk talking well into the early ours.

Claire Cunningham

Sunday began with a discussion, featuring a live video link with Philip Padston from New Zealand. He was supposed to be talking about the hugely anticipated Momentum, a Disability arts festival taking place in New Zealand next year. Unfortunately, technology being what it is, we lost Philip before he got to mention it. Ah well.

I left to get my train, just as a variety of acts were warming up for an afternoon in the yard. The sun was coming out, so with Laurence Clark and Heavy Load performing, I'm sure everyone had a great time.

Last night saw the closing of the exhibition with DaDaLesque, a burlesque show featuring Liz and Mat amongst others. I have my spies, so hopefully there will be photos from that event available on Flickr tomorrow.

All in all DaDaFest was a success. There genuinely were some excellent performances and it was a great thing to see disabled artists mingling and sharing ideas. There was a huge mechanical spider in Liverpool's city centre the same weekend, the Paralympics began, and Big Brother ended, which I think all lead to a smaller turn out than expected at some performances. The venue's location, slightly outside the main thoroughfare, also must have made it difficult for some. Hats off to the Garry Robson, Ruth Gould and all the other organisers, for making DaDaFest 08 the biggest Disability and Deaf arts festival, ever to be staged in the UK.

Update!See more photos on Flickr

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