A still from the Contagion dance performance

New dance piece announced for Manchester Science Festival 2018

We are delighted to announce Contagion, a brand-new dance piece by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, is one of the first events to be added to the Manchester Science Festival 2018 programme. Performed in the spectacular setting of IWM North, this major new work will explore viral infection, reflecting on the First World War and the devastating effect of pandemics.

This parallel warfare (man vs man and virus vs man) will influence the choreography and design of the piece. Jeyasingh will also draw on themes from the influenza virus itself, notorious for its ability to rapidly mutate, taking inspiration from the dynamics by which the virus enters the host cell.

The works of Egon Schiele, a figurative painter of the early 20th century, will provide further inspiration for the piece. Schiele tragically succumbed to Spanish Flu at the age of 28, three days after his pregnant wife. Through twisted anatomical body shapes, his works reflect early understanding of neuroscience and psychology and thematically suggest both war and the rapid spread of disease.

Contagion will form part of IWM’s Making a New World season, a programme of innovative exhibitions, installations and events taking place across IWM North and IWM London between 27 July 2018 – 31 March 2019. The season will explore themes of remembrance and how the First World War has shaped the society we live in today.

Contagion joins the headline exhibition Electricity: The spark of life as one of the first events to be announced for this year’s Manchester Science Festival. The largest science festival of its type in the country, MSF puts science at the heart of culture, finding creative ways to communicate science to audiences of all ages.

Antonio Benitez, Director of the Manchester Science Festival, said: “I am delighted to be able to announce this fantastic new piece by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance at IWM North as part of this year’s Manchester Science Festival. This new work, which dramatically expresses the effects of a global pandemic through dance, is a great example of why MSF is the boldest and most creative science festival in the UK.”

Susie Thornberry, Assistant Director Public Engagement and Learning at Imperial War Museums, said: “We are delighted to be working with Manchester Science Festival and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance to explore this lesser known story of the First World War and the notion that its impact was felt long after the guns fell silent. This is part of IWM’s commitment to giving everyone the chance to understand and debate the human impact of conflict through our programme of innovative events and exhibitions.”

The festival is produced by the Museum of Science and Industry.

Contagion is a free event and will take place on Sunday 21st October at IWM North. More information about the performance will be available closer to the time.