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Barbican - May 2019 highlights

May highlights

AS WELL as Avalanche: A Love Story, starring Maxine Peake, theatre and dance highlights at the Barbican in May 2019 include:

Pam Tanowitz/Kaija Saariaho/Brice Marden – Four Quartets – in the Barbican Theatre from Wednesday, May 22 to Saturday, May 25.

First published in the UK 75 years ago, Four Quartets is considered the crowning achievement of TS Eliot’s career as a poet. Now three visionaries, Pam Tanowitz, Kaija Saariaho and Brice Marden respond to the four-part poem in a ravishing union of dance, music and visual art, as the entire work is narrated by American actor Kathleen Chalfant.

Four Quartets is a mysterious meditation on past and present, time and space, movement and stillness, replete with images of dance. Celebrated New York-based choreographer Pam Tanowitz moves her ensemble of dancers lavishly through glorious solos and duets.

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s beguiling new score is played live by violinist Colin Jacobsen (The Knights) and soloists from Barbican Associate Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia. The exquisite stage design by Clifton Taylor centres on paintings by major American artist Brice Marden.

A Barbican co-commission and European premiere, this collaborative performance of the work is the first to be authorised by the TS Eliot Estate.

To mark the 75th anniversary of its UK publication by Faber & Faber in 1944, and to coincide with the production’s premiere at the Barbican, a special edition of Four Quartets is published on May 16, 2019, based on the design made by Giovanni Mardersteig for his letterpress edition of 1960.

Faso Danse Théâtre and Halles de Schaerbeek/Serge Aimé Coulibaly – Kalakuta Republik – in the Barbican Theatre from Thursday, May 30 to Saturday, June 1.

The spirit of Fela Kuti is ever-present in this intoxicating dance piece by Burkina Faso-born choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly, which speaks of modern-day Africa and the musical artist as freedom-loving figurehead.

In the first half all is monochrome. Dancers pulsate, whirl, plunge and vibrate, their relentless movement exploding with virtuoso energy. Projections depicting scenes of conflict serve as a backdrop for the performers, their perpetual march an urgent metaphor for the desire to keep living.

Bursts of colour propel the second half, a place reminiscent of Kuti’s Shrine nightclub, where discord was confronted just as hope blossomed from solidarity and social consciousness. While provocative messages illuminate the stage, to a score echoing jazz-infused Afrobeat, decadent dance depicts the struggles of an individual.

For more information or to book tickets, call the box office on 020 7638 8891 or visit