Flipside, Snape Maltings, October 3-4

Live music at the Flipside Festival held at Snape Maltings.

Live music at the Flipside Festival held at Snape Maltings.

This weekend a taste of South America burst into the sleepy Suffolk countryside, as Snape Maltings once again hosted the Flipside festival. The festival catered for all ages with art, dance and music tents as well as the varied literature talks. Literary guests included: David Hare, crime writing duo Nicci French, Fernanda Torres, Louis De Bernières, Joanna Trollope, Patrick Barkham and many others from both Britain and Latin America.

Dancing at the Flipside Festival at Snape

Dancing at the Flipside Festival at Snape - Credit: Archant

Now in its third year, Flipside is the partner of The Festival Literária Internacional de Parati (Flip). Flip debuted in 2003 and for five days each year it brings together authors from around the world for a vast array of events in the small Brazilian town of Paraty. And like its Suffolk sister it draws from the wider arts, adding music, art, film and more into the mix.

Novelist Joanna Trollope commented that when she visited Flip it felt like the ‘Glastonbury of books’ because of the young audience and palpable excitement about literature. A larger focus on the young people’s programme this year meant that Flipside is becoming firmly established as a real family event with a youthful vibe. The difficult age groups remain the teens and twenty-somethings - represented at Flipside by a dedicated minority that was perhaps slightly more prevalent than last year.

This year the Brazilian focus was widened to include other South American countries, particularly Mexico. Inevitably, for a festival that brings together authors from different countries, the complexities of translation were much discussed in the literature Encounters. The engaging Brazilian actress turned novelist Fernanda Torres focussed on the topic with translator Daniel Hahn. It became apparent during this fascinating discussion that translation is just as much about translating culture as it is words. This is why it’s great to be able to explore other aspects of Brazilian and wider Latin American culture at Flipside. The art, dance and music all feed into each other to bring depth to the written word. And churros and enchiladas provide the perfect sustenance.

Last year I popped in the dance tent to do my journalistic duty and witness all that the festival head to offer and before long my foot was tapping. This year I knew that I had to have a go for myself. The Samba-Reggae workshop promised to be ‘rhythmic and uplifting’ and I can safely say it ticked both those boxes. Knees bent, arms in various ‘shield’ and ‘knife’ positions, we soon worked up a sweat. Dance teacher Mariana Pinho had us strutting like Beyonce and sporting some nifty samba footwork. In my head I looked amazing. The video my friend took of me on the sly, proved otherwise.

Mariana Pinho gives a samba-reggae dance workshop at the Flipside Festival in Snape Maltings on Satu

Mariana Pinho gives a samba-reggae dance workshop at the Flipside Festival in Snape Maltings on Saturday - Credit: Su Anderson

On Sunday morning it was the turn of Tango – a dance I have always admired. Upon entering the room, I immediately felt unprepared as everyone around me seemed to possess proper dance shoes. But a pair of borrowed heels and some expert tuition by Omar Sosa and Sandra Monticeli later, and all I was missing was a rose between my lips. Rather appropriate considering my statuesque physique meant I mainly took the male part.

It wasn’t long before I could see that all the art forms present at Flipside pointed towards the importance of stories. Dances weren’t just about steps, the books weren’t just clever words, the songs weren’t just catchy tunes. They all tell a story that helps the viewer to see the world in new ways. This is how people the world over express themselves: Different politics, different histories, different climates, but same humanity and similar forms of expression.

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A festival’s third year is a key point in its development. Year one is a learning curve for both organisers and festival-goers, as the new vision is introduced. Year two sees the momentum build as people now know a little of what to expect and organisers invest in the successful aspects and continue to test the water with new ideas. By the third year the hope is that a firm base has been built and the festival has a strong following. Flipside certainly has that and it’s clear to see that the organisers are not afraid of mixing things up a little each year, throwing in new elements, alongside developing the tried and tested ones.

Flipside is definitely a highlight on the East Anglian arts calendar. It’s a veritable feast for eyes, ears, mind and stomach and I challenge you to come away not thinking ‘my goodness, I’d love to go to Brazil!’ The challenge for the organisers now is to keep those Brazilian beats fresh and to programme in the same beautiful sunshine for next October.

Romance de Tango at the Flipside Festival at Snape

Romance de Tango at the Flipside Festival at Snape - Credit: Archant

Hannah Rowe

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