What do you get if you cross a 1,000-year-old Bavarian shoe-slapping dance with an all-male Italian folk routine that was on the brink of extinction? A sweaty, joyous double-bill!

When Alessandro Sciarroni discovered an Italian folk dance called polka chinata, it was at that point a near-forgotten art practised by only five men in the world. By contrast, when he first watched the 1,000-year-old, thigh-slapping Bavarian/Tyrolean Schuhplattler, it was still being taught and performed, known for its lederhosen, beer steins and a dark period in its history as a favourite of the Nazis. Both of these dances, though, are ones the artist and choreographer has turned into something new, which he’ll be bringing to the inaugural Dance Reflections festival, accelerating the return of international dance to London, post-Covid.

Folk dance is not Sciarroni’s only influence – his background is in experimental theatre – but it’s fertile ground for contemporary artists (another upcoming show, by Jamal Gerald at Leeds’s Transform festival, reinvents the Jumbie dance from Montserrat as a dance of black queer joy). Sciarroni has an anthropological eye. As a young boy growing up on Italy’s east coast, he was fascinated by animal behaviour, the flocking of birds, the way insects worked in unison.

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