Pomegranates 2023

Book your Pomegranates 2023 festival tickets on Pay What You Can basis through the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office in person or online by clicking the links here: Please note that the suggested donation of £15 per day will be reinvested in next year’s festival!

We are delighted to announce the return of our Pomegranates festival – sowing the seeds of international traditional dance across Edinburgh this spring. Initiated and curated by the Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland, the annual festival will once again mark UNESCO’s International Dance Day on 29 April 2023. The second iteration of our festival will spread across not only two but three days – 28-30 April 2023. Again, it will be hosted by both the Scottish Storytelling Centre and St. Leonard’s Dance Studio at the University of Edinburgh.

Once again, Pomegranates will form part of Edinburgh Tradfest – a festival of longer tap roots in the Edinburgh Folk Festival, launched by TRACS in 2013, then curated by Soundhouse in collaboration with Transgressive North since 2019 and with Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland since 2022.

For this year’s Pomegranates, we will also join our efforts and share the spaces of Scottish Storytelling Centre with the second North Atlantic Song Convention which was established in 2020 to celebrate and support the rich folksong traditions of all cultures that have borders with or access to the North Atlantic Ocean.

Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 1: Workshops

Just like our inaugural festival, Pomegranates 2023 will kick off with an intensive day packed with 12 professional development world dance workshops led by creative migrants based in Scotland. This year the line up includes the trad dance artists and choreographers Pia Walker (Scotland), Karlis Cantis (Latvia), Oksana Banshikova (India), Arwed and Anja Bettner (Germany), Lara Russo (Italy) and Marianella Desanti (Costa Rica), as well as Chinyanta Kabaso (Zambia) and Yefing Zhu (China) – both alumni of our festival partner the University of Edinburgh.

Most importantly, all workshops will be accessible worldwide through our livestream partnership with Moray House School of Education and Sport, the University of Edinburgh, enabling any trad dancers the world over with an Internet connection to benefit from this continuous professional development opportunity.

But how did pomegranates become a metaphor for the process of creative professional development? It was in the process of curating the pilot festival edition of Pomegranates 2022 when we came across the line “Attracts me like a pomegranate”.  It was initially the second line of Beatles’ song Something (1969) written by George Harrison. “Pomegranate” was only used as a temporary filler before Harrison settled on the final lyrics, yet for us pomegranates came to stand for the process of workshopping and learning often hidden from the public eye.


Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 1: Triple Bill 


Our first festival day will culminate into a triple bill of trad dance duets, including the return to stage of Thistles and Sunflowers Dance Fusion – one of the commissioned highlights of the Thistles and Sunflowers festival which premiered as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022. Choreographed and performed by the trad dance duo Ariana Stoyanova and Alexis Street – both alumni of our festival partner the University of Edinburgh, too – it draws on the parallels between Scottish and Bulgarian folk dance traditions, regional variations and friendships.

This evening of duets features also a duo of folk dancers Arwed and Anja Bettner from Germany, part of our new Cultural Bridge project of global intangible heritage exchange with our partners from Folk Dance Society of Germany. Finally, Hidden Door Duet is a new choreography in the making based on Chinese Folk dance by Yuxi Jiang for two Scottish dancers co-commissioned by Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland and Hidden Door Festival.

We are pleased to confirm the newly-commissioned festival contribution of our 2023 resident artists – the performance poet and broadcaster of Scottish descent Ian McMillan, Edinburgh’s own traditional musician and composer Jon Bews, as well as the German visual artist and Edinburgh College of Art alumnus Gabriel Schmitz.

Visit Duets

Opening ahead of Pomegranates 2023, Duets is Gabriel’s first solo exhibition in Scotland which we curated specifically for the Scottish Storytelling Court. This solo show will run 26 March–30 April 2023 and feature a selection of the artist’s dance drawings, dance cutouts, dance paintings and dance videos, including from his participation in the accompanying programme at 59th Venice Biennale 2022.

Duets will also offer free opportunities for anyone to experience Gabriel’s life drawing duets with dance artists during the exhibition previews at the Storytelling Court on 25 March and our festival partner’s space at Goethe Institut-Glasgow on 28 March, as well during the first day of Pomegranates 2023 festival.

Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 2

Pomegranates 2023 Day 2 will also bring the world premiere of our new short film To Begin the Dance Once More. Mother Earth Stories from Egypt and Scotland on the big theatre screen of the Scottish Storytelling Centre. It is accompanied by a special video postcard from Cairo from our Egyptian partners, including choreographer Prof Hassan Khalil. For the post-show Q&A cast and crew will be reunited in-person for the first time with the film director Marlene Millar – an award-winning Canadian filmmaker, dancer and choreographer.

What is more, inspired by our short dance film, we will stage Dances with Ouds and Fiddles – a brand-new live show for three dancers, a storyteller, an oud and a fiddle with new music composed, arranged and performed live by Jon Bews another new addition to this year’s festival.

And if that isn’t colourful enough, festival guests will have a go at dancing themselves as part of our Pomegranates 2023 Ceilidh with Terrific Trouble Ceilidh Band and dance caller extraordinaire Pia Walker as they grab their chance to experience our exhibition Duets.

Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 3

The festival finale on Day 3 will see newly-commissioned poems and drawings by our resident artists Ian McMillan and Gabriel Schmitz come alive as part of our Pomegranates Promenade show. The Promenade will feature at least 12 dancers fusing fun folk dance with funky hip hop rhythms and rhymes. The Promenade’s choreographer Kemono L Riot, an esteemed hip hop artist and dancer, will MC the show under the live accompaniment of Nemo Ganguli, ‘Young Drummer of The Year’ Finalist 2022, before DJing the afterparty with a special playlist bound to get everybody on the dance floor.

Our festival finale will also feature a special launch of The Oxford Book of Hip Hop Dance Studies  – the most comprehensive research on hip hop dance to date co-edited by the University of Edinburgh alumna Dr Mary Fogarty.

In the meantime, enjoy the highlights of Pomegranates 2022, including a short documentary, and check the draft schedule of Pomegranates 2023 below:

Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 1: Workshops

Friday, 28 April 2023 at St. Leonard’s Dance Studio at the University of Edinburgh

0800-0900          Welcome and Registration
0900-0930          World Dance Workshop 1
0930-1000          World Dance Workshop 2
1000-1030          World Dance Workshop 3
1030-1100           Break/Networking
1100-1130           World Dance Workshop 4
1130-1200           World Dance Workshop 5
1200-1230            World Dance Workshop 6
1230-1330            Lunch/Networking
1330-1400            World Dance Workshop 7
1400-1430            World Dance Workshop 8
1430-1500            World Dance Workshop 9
1500-1530            Break/Networking
1530-1600            World Dance Workshop 10
1600-1630            World Dance Workshop 11
1630-1700            World Dance Workshop 12
Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 1: Triple Bill at the Scottish Storytelling Centre

1900-2000 Triple Bill: trad dance duets from China, Bulgaria, Germany and Scotland + a guided tour of Duets Gabriel Schmitz solo exhibition


Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 2

Saturday, 29 April 2023 at the Scottish Storytelling Centre
1900-2030 Two world premieres: Dances with Ouds and Fiddles + To Begin the Dance Once More + post-show Q&A with creative team + a tour of Duets Gabriel Schmitz solo exhibition
2030-2200 Ceilidh dancing open to all with Terrific Trouble Ceilidh Band


Book Pomegranates 2023 Day 3

Sunday, 30 April 2023 at the Scottish Storytelling Centre
1800-1930 Promenade live show featuring 12 dancers, a drummer and an MC with new poetry by Ian McMillan + a tour of Duets – Gabriel Schmitz solo exhibition
1930-2100 Afterparty with DJ Kemono L Riot + launch of Oxford Book of Hip Hop Dance Studies co-edited by Dr Mary Fogarty



Pomegranates 2022 festival poster image courtesy of Zeynep Aciktepe at unsplash