I love live performances and I also love a surprise. So Derby Festé was an absolute treat for me. Stepping out of the shopping centre, Derbion, on Saturday afternoon, I found myself swept up in the audience for Vanhulle Dance Theatre’s production of Dovetail. There was a sizable audience absolutely transfixed by the two contemporary dance performers. They created an emotional performance that seemed to be almost organic and improvised, reacting to each other’s bodies and movements.
The whole city was alive with street performance, I saw Strictly Cycling in their distinctive yellow capes, performing with bicycles, I walked past acrobatics and dancers circling a willow tree in the Market Square as part of Rogue Play’s Forests and was dazzled by vertical ballet on the Silk Mill, performed by Delrevés.
Friday and Saturday night were also transformed by Festé. The city was alive with colour and music. Friday night highlights included Deep Down Brass, performing pop and rock hits in the Cathedral and the glorious light display on the Guildhall. This celebrated 25 years of the twinning between Derbyshire and Toyota City. I finished Saturday night on the Cathedral Green absolutely transfixed by Compagnie Des Quidams TOTEMS. The 20ft glowing sculptures danced in front of the river, at one point appearing to breathe and to chase each other. They were other-worldly and ghostly with their blank faces and floating white coats but they were also beautiful and transfixing.
The festival ended with a drumming performance from members of the Derby community, accompanied by a stunning fireworks display. What makes the festival so special was not just the amazing performances. It was the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the county, being dazzled and amazed. Derby Festé celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, having provided free arts performances to the people of Derby for the last 15 years. Let’s hope Festé continues for many more years to come.