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Circus show at Le Prato

The Opera and the theatres around Lille

The Lille Opera continues to combine classical repertoires such as Verdi's Il Trobatore with more untypical works such those associated with the Finoreille project.  It is to be emphasised that the family programme has a suitable selection and appropriate pricing. A fundamental shift in approach by the Grand Bleu, which this year is to put on more than 145 performances for the family to enjoy together.  The new season at the Théâtre du Nord opens with an interesting mix of plays, concerts and performances of the classics and original works such as Monkey Monney by Carole Thibaut. The other theatre in Lille, the Sebastopol has refined its multidisciplinary bill: theatre-goers can choose between musicals and classical dance - including Swan Lake, and the great comedians who are its trademark.

The façade of the Lille Opera House
  • The Lille Opera House
  • © Rémi Vimont

Grand style musical venues

As for contemporary musical venues, the Zenith Arena is the essential location for all of today's big stage events.  With a clashing mix of genres like the Red Army Choir rubbing shoulders this season with Motörhead. Switching from one venue to another, L'Aeronef, has been able roll out its unique brand of rock and pop for more than 25 years. Special mention is to be made of its free concerts policy and a stage open to regional talent. Not to be forgotten are the taster concerts for 5-12 year olds and their parents, which have now been running for four years.

A dance show at L'Aeronef
  • A dance show at L'Aeronef
  • © LightMotivJean-Pierre.DUPLAN

On track with the Circus

The circus world is definitely present in the Lille conurbation with the programme on at Le Prato. Since 2012, the national circus arts centre has been putting the accent on original productions and improvised performances.  In partnership with the cultural centre in Tournai, it is specifically developing "LE PLÔT", a cross-border hub for hitherto unseen circus acts in France. The "Tournages Imaginaires" or indeed the 3rd year of "Les Toiles dans la Ville" will be the highlights of this season.

Circus show at Le Prato
  • Circus show at Le Prato
  • © Mii Mie

Contemporary dance

Contemporary dance enthusiasts will view the coming 2015-16 season with interest.  First of all, there is the Gymnase de Roubaix. Over the years this choreography centre has become a major venue for contemporary dance.  On the agenda:  several festivals with growing success such as the "Grand Bain", "Les Petits Pas" for the younger ones, and "Les Danses à l'endroit". Finally, let's close this round-up at the Rose des Vents.  A major international player, it offers an artistic triple - theatre, dance, and debates - unique of its kind. This season, some fifty shows are on the bill with such highlights as Les Ballets C De La B and Le Sorelle Macaluso by Emma Dante. The Rose de Vents is also one of the venues for the NEXT festival at Valenciennes.

A poster celebrating 40 years of the ‘Rose des Vents’
  • A poster celebrating 40 years of the ‘Rose des Vents’
  • © La Rose des vents

And live performances in the region?

Nord-Pas-de-Calais is a region of many forms of expression where architecture and the arts combine. Memorial to the former mining basin, the Fabrique Théâtrale de Culture Commune in Loos-en-Gohelle comes to life in a miners' changing room. Le Channel in Calais was set up in what was previously an industrial site, a powerful symbol for a contemporary, multidisciplinary venue.  A role also shared with the Bateau Feu national theatre in Dunkirk via a schedule of theatre, dance, circus and innovative dramatic art. The Vivat theatre in Armentières is the perfect occupant for the former covered market, now converted into a venue for dance, theatre, and music events. Finally, the Boulon in Vieux-Condé, a lively location for theatre and circus arts, was set up on a renovated brownfield site.

Le Channel, a theatre in Calais
  • Le Channel, a theatre in Calais
  • © Le Channel

And to add a few notes to the scene, try visiting the symbolic Abattoir in Lillers, one of the oldest "Café-Musiques" in the region; or even the JAZZ CLUB in Dunkirk, a legendary international venue for jazz enthusiasts. Due a special mention is the Manège in Mauberge. This cross-border cultural centre has now been running the successful Via festival for some thirty years. When centres of creative activity work closely together, a new "Tandem" emerges - the Hippodrome in Douai has joined forces with the Theatre in Arras to initiate a new cultural dynamic. Finally, let's end with the grand ship-like international venue at Valenciennes - Le Phènix.  An essential rendezvous for dance, music, circus and theatre for all.

Le Phénix at Valenciennes, shaped like a giant, vivid red ship
  • Le Phénix in Valenciennes - an international stage
  • © Pascal Morès

A few words about the festival season…

To finish this quick tour of regional theatres in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a word about the major festivals.  As is the case every year, the 2015-2016 season will enliven the cultural season in many towns. Let us mention specifically Cambrai and its classical music festival, Juventus; Arras and the electrifying Main Square Festival; the Pianos Folies at Le Touquet or the Musica Nigella music festival which is celebrating its10th anniversary. Finally, fans of today's music should not miss the strange Nuits Secrètes d'Aulnoye-Aymeries.

The Secret Nights festival in Aulnoye-Aymeries
  • The Secret Nights festival in full swing. It attracts thousands of spectators each year
  • © Rémi Vimont
Live performances lie at the heart of these venues which open new windows on the arts