10 of the brightest stars of Manchester international festival 2017

Arcade Fire, Thomas Ostermeier, Yael Bartana and more make the trip to Manchester

Cutting-edge artists and performers from all over the world converge on Manchester for 18 days at this unique biennial festival. Now ten years old, Manchester international festival specialises in bold, original commissions, unique collaborations and participatory happenings. Meet the international innovators making the trip to Manchester for 2017’s edition of the festival – from Brooklyn streetdancers to Sufi singers via a maverick German director (not to mention an antique statue from Ukraine).

Flavia Coelho (Brazil)
Vibrant singer Coelho fuses Brazilian bossa with Caribbean grooves to delicious effect. She makes her Manchester debut in support of a sparkling new album, Sonho Real.

FlexN (USA)
Dance pioneer Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray introduced Manchester to the Brooklyn streetdance style flexing at MIF in 2015. He returns for a residency with local spoken word collective Young Identity.

FlexN’s Reggie Gray.
FlexN’s Reggie Gray. Photograph: Sodium

Arcade Fire (Canada)
Thirteen years since the release of their fiery, fist-pumping debut Funeral, trailblazing art-pop septet Arcade Fire toast their upcoming new album with a one-off outdoor show at Castlefield Bowl.

Susan Hefuna (Egypt)
Cairo-born Susan Hefuna’s new exhibition ToGather spotlights the journeys made by new arrivals to Manchester, and features a free outdoor performance with dancers from Company Wayne McGregor.

Jóhann Jóhannsson (Iceland)
For the world premiere of his film Last and First Men, Jóhannsson’s haunting score is performed by the BBC Philharmonic orchestra and features narration by Tilda Swinton.

Thomas Ostermeier (Germany)
Radical and inventive, German theatre director Ostermeier adapts the French philosopher Didier Eribon’s seminal memoir Returning to Reims for the stage. Get set for an affecting look at the rise of the far right in Europe.

Thomas Ostermeier.
Thomas Ostermeier. Photograph: Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photo/Mag/PR image

Friedrich Engels (Ukraine)
Communist Manifesto co-author Friedrich Engels lived in Manchester for 20 years in the 1800s. Now artist Phil Collins is bringing a statue of the great thinker here from Ukraine for a live spectacle.

Yael Bartana (Israel)
The artist’s new work, What If Women Ruled the World?, imagines a women-only war-room where guest female scientists and thinkers join the cabinet each night to address the world’s most pressing crises.

Sanam Marvi (Pakistan)
Sufi singer Marvi is one of few women to perform Qawwali devotional songs. Joined by Bollywood star Harshdeep Kaur, the pair perform at the opening of HOME1947, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s film installation exploring Partition.

Samson Young (Hong Kong)
Boldly adventurous Hong Kong artist Samson Young presents a sound installation and a radio drama inspired by tales of 17th-century Chinese travellers journeying to Europe on foot.


Sophie Harris

The GuardianTramp

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