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Successful Year for Pomegranates International Traditional Dance Festival

2024 was another successful year for our Pomegranates Festival which ended on 30 April. The packed five-day programme of traditional dance, poetry, art and fashion, saw ticket sales up by 50% on 2023, fully-booked free family events and a packed house for fashion designer Alison Harm’s show featuring her latest collection made from sustainable tartan which was at the heart of this year’s festival exhibition exploring the links between the tartan cloth and the Scottish and Irish dance traditions.

Supported by Creative Scotland’s Traditional Dance Target Fund and other partners, the Pomegranates Festival celebrates Scottish traditional dance and diverse traditional dance practised by cultural migrant communities across Scotland. Now in its third year, the festival has grown from a two-day showcase of work performed by local Edinburgh-based dancers, into a five day festival showcasing new work choreographed by guest artists. 

This year’s choreographer in residence was the highly acclaimed, MC, dancer, and spoken word artist Jonzi D who is the founder of Breakin’ Convention and widely recognised for his influence on the development of the UK British hip hop dance and theatre scene. Jonzi D’s new work United Nations? created in just two days and performed by 20 international dancers resident in Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow, was premiered at this year’s festival on International Dance Day (Monday 29 April). This powerful piece was a fantastic achievement and complemented new work by festival artists-in-residence, including new poetry written and read by Perthshire bard Jim Mackintosh and a new film created by Scottish Estonian artist Mare Tralla.

 

United Nations? new dance theatre show choreographed by guest artist Jonzi D at the Netherbow Theatre, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Photo by Basya Volodarskaya. Courtesy Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland 

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Jim Mackintosh, who was the poet-in-residence at this year’s Pomegranates Festival, penned a series of newly-commissioned reflections in verse, including the United Nations of Dance, which gave rise to the title of the new hip hop theatre piece as part of the festival finale triple bill We are Migrant. Entitled United Nations? this new dance theatre show choreographed by guest artist Jonzi D for 19 Scottish artists and musicians at the Netherbow Theatre, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh.

step into the chamber of music and dance

your nation’s playbook of politics

now a charter of choreography

embracing each other’s culture

expectations and ambitions through

centuries of rhythm, no abstentions

allowed, no council member’s veto

defining futures in the theatre of war

in the trenches of oppression but here

now in the Palace of Peace here now

in our United Nations of Dance – always

Extract from United Nations of Dance by Jim Mackintosh

 

 

The book cover of We are Migrant (Seahorse Publications, 2024) by Jim Mackintosh which was launched as part of the the festival finale triple bill

 

“We are delighted that this year’s festival was packed with so many events representing the diversity and wealth of traditional dance at our shores, as well as the intrinsic connection of Scottish and world trad dance with live music, poetry, film, heritage crafts, fashion and storytelling. We are very proud that for the third year now Pomegranates has served a cocktail of fascinating movement to over 4,000 estimated audiences and participants from Scotland, as well as worldwide via our festival livestreams.

We couldn’t be more proud sharing this long weekend with over 100 trad dance artists, musicians, young people and creatives as they took over our stages, screens and spaces. We believe that Pomegranates has now taken roots in Scotland’s cultural calendar celebrating traditional dance from all corners of the world and from around the corner – all practised in Scotland by first and second generation of cultural migrants – from the Scottish Gaelic singing and step dancing to Highland and Ceilidh, from Ukrainian folk and Palestinian Dabkeh to Lindy Hop and Hip Hop.” 

Wendy Timmons and Iliyana Nedkova, Co-curators and producers of the Pomegranates Festival 

 

Why Pomegranates Festival matter? We bring you the latest facts and figures, stats and sequins of the third Pomegranates Festival 2024 below. Download the six-page booklet here

 

 

 

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In 2025 we have plans to tour our dance theatre piece Elegies which weaves together dance theatre, spoken word and live music. The piece, which was performed for the second time only, during this year’s Pomegranates Festival, is the first and only dance adaptation of the poetry book Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (1948) by Hamish Henderson (1919-2002). Henderson was a soldier-poet, singer-songwriter and scholar-folk revivalist of Scotland, and Elegies is set in a dancehall and a desert during the Second World War. The production is centred around new ensemble choreography by George Adams which embodies ceilidh, jive, swing and lindy hop, accompanied by Henderson’s poems read by spoken word artists Morag Anderson and Stephen Watt, and live music and vocals from multi-instrumentalist Cera Impala.

 

Elegies performed during this year’s festival. Photos credit Neil Hanna. Courtesy Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland

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2025 will also see the festival continue to work with the City of Perth to bring Europeade to Scotland in 2026. The Europeade is the largest festival of European traditional dance, costume and music and its President Rudiger Hess was a guest at this year’s Festival. Endorsed by Kaukab Stewart,  the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, the Europeade festival will see over 5000 traditional dancers from across Europe spend five days in Perth in July 2026 which will be the first time the UK has ever hosted this event in six decades of the festival’s history.  

 

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The Pomegranates Festival plans to return to Edinburgh in spring 2025 with a new five day programme of Scottish and world  traditional dance from 25-30 April 2025: https://linktr.ee/pomegranatesfest



The Festival is initiated and curated by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and presented and produced in partnership with Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland, Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Libraries, Dance Base and the Scottish Storytelling Centre.  The Pomegranates Festival is funded by TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland), Creative Scotland Traditional Dance Target Fund, The William Syson Foundation and Scottish Community Alliance through Pockets and Prospects Fund. 

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Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland 

Established in 2014,Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland is the only national organisation of its kind dedicated to the advancement of all forms of traditional and social dance. Our mission is to advocate for and support the diverse trad dance forms practised in Scotland ranging from Ceilidh to Old Time, Swing to Hip Hop as an integral part of our global intangible cultural heritage. We are a registered charity (SCIO SC045085) and a founding member of Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland (TRACS), alongside our friends at Traditional Music Forum and Scottish Storytelling Forum. https://linktr.ee/traddanceforumscotland

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TRACS (Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland) (SCIO, SC043009) is a co-operative network which champions our shared traditions of music, song, storytelling, dance, crafts, customs and local languages. TRACS celebrates the local distinctiveness of Scotland’s places: our intangible cultural heritage. TRACS brings together the Traditional Music Forum (SCIO SC042867), the Scottish Storytelling Forum (SCIO SC052330) and the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland (SCIO SC045085). Supported by Creative Scotland and The City of Edinburgh Council. www.tracscotland.org

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Moray House School of Education and Sport has been making a major contribution to the fields of education and sport for 175 years. Our staff, students and alumni have influenced, improved and transformed learning, teaching and policy worldwide. Our innovative and unique master’s in Dance Science and Education gives dancers the scientific theory and specialist skills to push the frontiers of dance and dance education. Moray House School of Education and Sport  MSc Dance Science and Education

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Creative Scotland is the public body that supports culture and creativity across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at creativescotland.com. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at www.ourcreativevoice.scot    

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