From a Strictly heartthrob on the stage to impressive works of art, there's lots going on...
Giovanni Pernice, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, July 2
Strictly Come Dancing favourite Giovanni Pernice is heading to Dunstable as part of his UK tour, Il Ballo è Vita. The phrase translates as Dance is Life in Italian and opened in April to rave reviews. Directed and choreographed by BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing creative director Jason Gilkison, it also features Strictly troupe dancer Luba Mushtuk along with a cast of dancing professionals. Packed with fun, humour and the dance moves which made him a star, it tells a love story set in a Sicilian café bar. Giovanni thinks he has found love, but not everything is as easy as it first appears.
Audiences can look forward to a host of classic dances including the quickstep, samba, rumba, paso doble, Argentine tango and Giovanni’s signature move, the jive. Sicily-born Giovanni rose to fame when he joined the hit BBC show in 2015 as dance partner to Coronation Street actress Georgia May Foote. The pair went all the way to the grand final, and he returned for last year’s series with Laura Whitmore, getting as far as week seven. Expect anecdotes and tales aplenty along with the classic dance moves.
Works by Abi Spendlove and Jeffrey Dennis, Cultural Quarter, Luton, June 29
Luton’s contemporary public arts programme As You Change, So Do I is presenting its new commissions for summer – and all are invited to be part of the celebrations when Luton-based artist Abi Spendlove and contemporary urban painter Jeffrey Dennis showcase new work. Abi Spendlove’s project Tributary celebrates the River Lea, which rises in and passes through Luton. Responding to the river’s original Anglo Saxon meaning – which translates as ‘Bright River’ – Spendlove will record people’s impressions of the Lea, tracking its place in local mythology as it meanders towards the Thames. She will invite visitors to participate in walks tracking the river’s progress through the town centre, make a new film and create a participatory painted poem about Luton’s hidden river.
Artist Jeffrey Dennis has selected an inconspicuous wall in Luton town centre as the location for a summer-long painting. Dennis hopes the wall – opposite The Hat Factory on Bute Street – will become a natural backdrop for shopping and commuting.
3 THEATRE SCREENING
Otello – encore screening, July 5
World-famous tenor Jonas Kaufmann makes his role debut as Otello in Verdi’s passionate retelling of Shakespeare’s great tragedy of jealousy, deception and murder. The production was recorded at the Royal Opera House.
Cali-R Summer Festival, Dunstablians Rugby Club, Bedford Road, Houghton Regis, Dunstable, July 1
Live bands, the best of local DJs and a barbecue are coming together for a day-long summer festival as part of the Cali-R 20th anniversary celebrations. Cali-R, originated and promoted by former California Ballroom DJ Sid Hudson, celebrates the music of the final 10 years of the “Cali”, Dunstable. Sid held his first event in Houghton Regis in 1997 and has seen subsequent shows grow in popularity. The event promises to be a mammoth affair running from 4pm until 1am, featuring three bands and three DJ rooms, including the marquee.
Soul Kinda Wonderful, voted the No 1 Drifters and Motown tribute band, will top the bill, with support from The Pete Honegan Band, a funky outfit from London, and Luton band 360, playing contemporary British soul mixed with 70s disco. Sid Hudson will be on duty in the main marquee, while the Dunstable Soul Family – Colin Watts, Louie Martin, Mick McGrath and a guest DJ – will play jazz-funk and rare grooves in the clubhouse, with All Things Soulful (Duncan Bedford and Philly Dave Grimes) in the lounge.
Arieb Azhar, Hat Factory Arts Centre, Luton, July 2
Pakistani sufi and folk singer Arieb Azhar brings his distinctive music to Luton. The poet, singer and activist’s repertoire stretches from Punjabi and Urdu, folk, Irish to Balkans music, and featured on the popular Coke Studios series. He will be joined by a Bengali singer and kathak dancer for the show.