Sylvie Guillem and Nicolas Le Riche
Sylvie Guillem and Nicolas Le Riche
© Bill Cooper

The countdown is now underway for one of Europe's largest dance festivals – International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014. On 24 April this celebration of dance, now in its fourth year, returns to the city from for over four weeks of world premieres, unique collaborations, community events, outdoor spectacles and world-class performances.

The festival in 2012 is estimated to have played to over 60,000 audience members. This year the festival features more theatre shows than in previous years, which include some of the biggest names in dance and some of the most hotly tipped rising choreographic stars.

The festival kicks off with the city's very own Birmingham Royal Ballet, who will present two mixed bills at the Crescent Theatre (24 – 26 April) celebrating both the old and the new. Heritage pieces by Sir Frederick Ashton's Le Rendezvous and Façade, will be performed alongside World Premieres. BRB dancer Kit Holder returns to the festival following his 2012 choreographic debut, with the first performances of his Quatrain; and former BRB dancer and Affiliate Choreographer of The Royal Ballet and New Wave Associate Artist of Sadler's Wells Theatre, Alexander Whitley presents his brand new piece Kin.

In keeping with the festival's spirit of forging new partnerships, IDFB 2014 welcomes a brand new collaboration with Birmingham's Symphony Hall with Concert Dansé which will be at the concert hall on 2 May. This ambitious reimagining of Duruflé's Requiem brings together the prominent Birmingham-based choir Ex Cathedra alongside Québécois dance company Cas Public and a talented cast of over 50 UK musicians and dancers.

IDFB 2014 highlights from Festival co-producer Birmingham Hippodrome include Swiss company Alias' Sideways Rain and Vancouver's Kidd Pivot led by Crystal Pite, whose company perform her Shakespeare-inspired Tempest Replica. Celebrated names also include the much revered superstar Sylvie Guillem, Sadler's Wells' hip hop spectacle Breakin' Convention, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, whose new work m¡longa takes a modern approach to Argentine tango. Finally, Matthew Bourne's internationally-acclaimed New Adventures and RE:Bourne bring a new production of Lord of the Flies to Birmingham Hippodrome featuring talented local young performers.

DanceXchange Associate Artist Luca Silvestrini comes to town for five nights as part of his UK tour with his company Protein's new show, Border Tales; and Greek company, Aerites bring their high-octane street culture-inspired Planites to IDFB for the first time. IDFB is delighted that one of the city's leading theatres, Birmingham Repertory Theatre is hosting the Canadian circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main's new show Séquence 8, the theatre's inaugural dance event since it re-opened in 2013.

Concluding this year's IDFB over four nights is B-Town – a major, free outdoor spectacle where pioneering performers from the world of street dance will transform Victoria Square. This electric new production features explosive dance from World B-Boy Champions Morning of Owl and an all star line-up from Funkstylerz UK collective brought to you by ProDance.

Artistic Director of DanceXchange and Co-Artistic Director of IDFB 2014, David Massingham said: "We are thrilled to premiere so much new work in IDFB 2014 and to feature the work of both hugely established names in addition to giving a platform to exciting new choreographic talent.

"It is a real testimony to Birmingham and the success of previous festivals, that so many of our city and region-wide venues and organisations want to be a part of IDFB 2014, as hosts and as collaborators. Together we can really show how much culture, passion and talent the Midlands has to offer."

International Dance Festival Birmingham will run from 24 April – 25 May 2014.

For more information on International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014 visit www.idfb.co.uk.