Issue 358
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It was Mark Twain that said “dance like nobody's watching". But he also said: "If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you can't learn any other way" so, frankly, I don't know what to believe. Dancing like nobody's watching is easy this year with Birmingham International Dance Festival going online only from today to June 13. Here Lucie Mirkova, Head of Artistic Programmes at DanceXchange and Curator of the whole fest, has picked out 7 of the (count them) 70 events. Almost everything is completely free.   
"This is the world premiere of eight new screendance commissions made to support creatives working here in Birmingham and the surrounding area. I watched the two longer shows [Don’t Play with L(Kn)ives and Anywhere’s A Dance Floor] yesterday and I massively over-indulged on them because they are utterly amazing. Anywhere’s A Dance Floor is a huge celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and how any public space can be used in which to dance. To express yourself. It's such a joyful piece and I simply can't wait to share it. Brummies will love spotting famous areas and landmarks in it." (June 3. More)
"This is a family-friendly double bill of films that kids and young people will love. It's so important to us to make sure elements of the festival attract children to dance and this is a fantastic way to do it. It's very activity orientated and you don't need to be by a screen to do them. You can watch the films then go away and explore. It's very nature focussed. You'll be asked to look down and see what you're standing on.  Explore the ground and all its beasts and bugs, crunchy leaves and tickling grass. very sensory. These are short films — about 5 minutes each — designed to keep a little one's attention." (June 4 to 6. More)
"Made in the autumn of 2020 this is a tribute to Alvin Ailey's seminal piece Revelations, using African-American spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues. It's a masterful mix of stage work and film blended together. This is one of the biggest dance companies in American so it's great to have them represented here in Birmingham. In the US Alvin Ailey is almost like a national treasure. It's only 22 minutes long and it was planned throughout, where possible, to keep screenings short so they live naturally in the online space. A space where attention spans are maybe less than in a theatre." (June 4. More)
"This is a selection of UK and International dance films on the themes of identity, celebrating differences, exchange and unity. We worked closely with Flatpack Festival [Birmingham's annual film fest] and they were instrumental in our learning when it came to making films. These series of films will appeal to those who like film and moving image. Maybe dance isn't a huge passion but you might appreciate how dance is explored here through film. Video art at its finest." (June 4 to 9. More & More)
"Extended Play will take over the Festival for the full day with four live activities — three dance shows and a Q&A. Behind this is Jamaal Burkmar, midlands-based and our artist in residence at DanceXchange. We were going to take this on tour in 2020 but had to postpone, so it's great to be able to show it. This live stream events include Jukebox on which Jamaal has worked with singer-songwriter Mahalia. This one will be watched across the world, but shot from our studio right in the heart of Birmingham. Mahalia is bringing her band too, so it'll be fantastic for anyone who's missing live music. And anyone who likes Fleetwood Mac." (June 10. More)
"By the amazing Akram Khan Dance Company, we are thrilled to present it online after the pandemic prevented us from showing the live version. It's a great piece, not just for Birmingham but for a global audience. It looks back at the First World War and passes comment on its impact on our present and our future. This is purposely made for camera, not a recording of the show — so it's not static but very dynamic. A brilliantly made film — a visual spectacle. These guys are fantastic at what they do. I can't wait to see how they'll portray the reality of war through art and movement." (June 11-12. More)
"A show that Birmingham Royal Ballet have been planning for a long time, but we're not showing the entirety, just a 30 minute version. It's premiering in the Rep, but to a limited audience for obvious reasons, so it's nice to be able to give this more coverage further afield online. Carlos Acosta [Director of BRB] worked with a lot of collaborators to make this happen including Havana-born choreographer Miguel Altunaga. The show is, obviously, named after the nickname for Birmingham, and it's inspired by the city’s past as the birthplace of Heavy Metal. It's a very collaborative project with Brum at its heart." (June 13, £4.50 More)
The June Festival is all online with a live edition running September 21 to October 3.


David Lloyd Gym's state-of-the-art fitness studio, Blaze, is offering all I Choose Birmingham readers two 'no commitment necessary' free fitness classes at their luxury Brum City Centre venue, on Cornwall Street. I'm a fully paid-up member — have been for about a year and a half — and can vouch for it. It's absolutely ace. You get to punch and kick your goddamned frustrations out on a stupid goddamned punch bag. Okay, there's a lot more to it than that. In their words it's a dynamic and fast-paced HIIT (high intensity interval training) full-body workout, combining combat and mixed martial arts with cardio and strength training – in a nightclub-esque gym. If that sounds like your hell, it's really not as intense as it sounds, but it does gee you up and get you moving like no 'on your own' gym session could. To claim your two credits to book your free classes just download the Blaze app and email, mentioning I Choose Birmingham. They'll do the rest. 
Venue: Estado Da India, 42-44 High St, Harborne, B17 9NE; website
Choice: Goan Pao Bun (£7.95) Chooser: Front of house

I accidentally spent £6.50 on a can of beer at The Plough before this meal, because ordering by app is something I seem to struggle with. So I positively skipped across Harborne High Street to Estado Da India knowing I was about to take full advantage of their 50% off food launch offer. I had losses to make back, folks. Estado has taken the spot left behind by taste vacuum Cafe Rouge and the food is the exact opposite. Bold, burly, spicy hits of Indian and Portuguese tapas-size dishes, from the people behind Lasan, Fiesta Del Asado and my personal favourite, Raja Monkey. Operationally these guys know what they're doing so it must be put down to teething problems that there were looooong waits between the two separate orders. Tapas works because dishes come out when they're ready and you can keep ordering when you realise the food is ace or, you know, pop off if it's not. Doing as instructed I ordered a first tranche of dishes and waited. I should have taken that as my cue to order more when the dishes arrived, all in one go. Never mind, the food was mouth gold, particularly the Goan Pao Bun — Goan spiced lamb mince, stuffed in a Portuguese roll. Meltingly gorgeous, if I had my way a second would have been ordered and I would have filled up on bread. It's what I'm best at. A lot of people have pointed out the the Samaar Cod is somewhat punchy when paying full whack of £10.95. They are absolutely right, but this is a standout of a dish if you're feeling flush. With Opus gone great seafood has become that little harder to find in Brum, but this Icelandic cod loin, baked in Goan samaar spiced aioli with roasted garlic and cumin set the tone for dishes from the ocean, the skewered wild Atlantic prawns in citrus, garlic, green chilli and coriander being worth every penny of £6.25. The octopus and potatoes was also a hit and the beef vindaloo was a welcome whack of heat — dried Kashmiri chilies pitch perfect, hot but not over-powering the ginger and garlicky gravy. Smoked morcela sausage trumped the less impressive spicy chorizo in what was very much hits over misses — the biggest miss definitely being the long wait for both the first and second round of food. They'll get this sorted, no doubt, and I did indeed mention it to the team who were completely lovely about it and agreed we'd drawn a short straw that night. I didn't quite catch what the waiter said due to facemask mufflage but I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of "we'd knock a load of money off if you weren't already getting a 50% discount." Completely fair enough too. 
The departure of Tierra Tacos and Tiger Bites Pig from Stirchley left me somewhat emotional. I'm bouncing back, though, (thanks for asking) with news that Bonehead will be serving in Cork & Cage on June 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26. Bookings go live midday tomorrow (June 4) here.

Crushing hard on this Birmingham Royal Ballet competition. To enter, take a photo of your fave place in Brum and submit it on Facey-B, Twitter or Instagram. The winner gets a pair of tickets to Curated by Carlos at the Rep, a Punks and Chancers YES BAB tee, Birmingham Brewing Company vouchers and vouchers for Wine Freedom. More 
On Sunday (June 6), brilliant sandwich and beer bar Kilder are showing John Favreau's feel good street food movie 'Chef', complete with cubanos sarnies. Tickets £7.50

MAC's outdoor Sundown Cinema screenings are now on sale, and as their Cinema Programmer brilliantly put it, not one of them is The Greatest Showman. Details
New vegan kitchen 'The Vegan Kitchen' (malkovich, malkovich, malkovich) is opening this month in the Great Western Arcade. Their whole schtick is junk vegan burgery goodness, beers and cocktails.

The Colmore Tap is a great pub, flawed by not having outdoor space. Birmingham is a great city, flawed by not having a big pub garden in town. Waaait a minute... What if the Colmore Tap let you take beer and pizza to the huge seating area on Victoria Square? More
No 'I Choose Birmingham' next week as I'm working on 'Special Projects'. This might be a good time to point out that it's not called 'iChoose Birmingham'. It's three separate words. Come on guys, it's been 8 years now...

"Let the enthusiasm and energy of the group be your fuel"

Fitness saying

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WORDS: Tom Cullen

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