VISITORS to Bournemouth are set to see free performances taking place outdoors this weekend as hundreds of people from the world of dance descend on the town.

The UK Dance Showcase is a new way for dance companies to meet arts programmers and venue managers.

The event is set to draw 130 artists and performers, along with 200 delegates, for more than 60 events including performances, talks, pitching sessions and networking opportunities.

Several performances will be open to the public, including free displays in the Lower Gardens, Square and seafront.

The showcase, which runs from Thursday, May 16, until Sunday, is part of a project called Surf the Wave, led by Bournemouth’s Pavilion Dance South West.

Marketing manager Lucy White said: “Surf the Wave is a project made by Pavilion Dance South West which is aiming to bring about a step change in the way dance is showcased and toured in the UK. We want to bolster the industry in the UK.

“What we want to do is help dance artists build relationships with venues, programmers and theatres. We want to make connections with artists and programmers and to give programmers the opportunity to see lots of different types of dance in lots of different spaces.”

Beach huts, Bournemouth Pier and the town’s big wheel will all be used for meetings and networking.

Showcase producer Emily Tombs said there would be a host of dance styles. “It’s giving the public access to something they normally wouldn’t see,” she said.

The free outdoor events, all on Saturday are: Fast-paced male-female duet Amaranthine by Company Chameleon, in the Square at 10am, 12.50pm and 3.20pm; MESH by Vanessa Grasse, a procession starting at Goldsmiths in Old Christchurch Road at 10.45am and finishing in the Square; the world premiere of Pulse! By Joss Arnot Dance at 12noon and 2pm on the terraces of Pavilion Dance South West; and T-break by Mickael Marso Riviere, 12.40pm and 3pm at Pier Approach.

Ticketed events are open to the public at Poole’s Lighthouse. They are: Candoco Dance Company, with Scottish dance theatre, on Friday, 7.40pm; an evening of short works in kathak, hip hop and contemporary dance on Saturday, 4.30pm; and The Little Prince, a dance show for children and adults by Luca Silvestrini’s Protein on Sunday, 1.30pm.

Organisers have worked with Dorset companies on the event, with delegates enjoying catering from Beales Gourmet and Lunch’d, ale from Piddle Brewery and coffee from Badhand and Little Red Roaster. There will be a delegate dinner at the Hilton in Bournemouth and shuttle buses provided for delegates by Yellow Buses.

Details are at and