The first European Dance Festival, which starts tomorrow at the Manoel Theatre, should pave the way for an annual event that involves more countries, EU Ambassador Ronald Gallimore said.

The festival will see the participation of Malta's own Contact Dance Company and the dance companies of Jan Pusch from Germany and Jasmin Vardimon from the UK.

Mr Gallimore said at a press conference that the festival was being organised by the European Delegation in Malta, the British Council and the German-Maltese Circle (in association with Goethe Institut Inter Nationes).

"A lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes to get this festival up and running. We hope that next year many more countries will take part," he said.

Francesca Abela Tranter, founder of Contact Dance Company, said this festival was the perfect opportunity for local dancers to perform at an international level.

"Dance is no longer about fairy tales, it is an international language which is intended to create a debate. We want people to leave the theatre and discuss this type of dance," Ms Abela Tranter said.

On Saturday, the Contact Dance Company will be premiering new work jointly created with two choreographers from New Zealand and Australia.

"We have been working on this piece for the past three to four months. We would like this festival to be a success which would put Malta on the map" she said.

The festival has already received ample coverage in the UK with extensive coverage on the festival and Malta Baroque theatre in Time-Out magazine which has a readership of about 10,000.

The festival will be held at the Manoel tomorrow and Saturday. Tickets are Lm5.

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