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Festival Watch

Dancers of Ross unite! Just as the Edinburgh Festival hots up, the citizens of the rural town of Ross-on-Wye on the Welsh borders will be concentrating on their own international celebration. And one of the main events at the Ross-on-Wye International Festival will be a home-grown dance piece.

Participants in the Dance Theatre Summer School, some of them five years old, will devise and rehearse a new 20-minute work between August 16 and 28 in three groups under the guidance of Janet Smith, choreographer with the Scottish Dance Theatre. It will premiere on August 28 along with a programme of contemporary dance performed by Scottish Dance Theatre.

The town of Ross is taken over by its annual festival - this is the fourth - with the main events taking place in a pavilion by the river, from which music wafts up to other venues in more conventional buildings. There will be puppets from China, jazz from France, Ballet Flamenco from Madrid and Roger McGough will read from his latest collection for children, Bad, Bad Cats. Nola Rae will tell the story of Mozart's life in mime and Spanish clowns, Los Eccentricos, won't resort to language either. Children who are not at any of these events or listening to performances of Peter and the Wolf or Carnival of the Animals may be painting or role-playing in Club Creative workshops. And anyone who wants a really strange experience can acquire a map and explore the giant pods of the Architects of Air inflatable.

Visitors are expected from all over Wales, Bath, Bristol, Hereford and Gloucester, but there have also been enquiries from Denmark, the United States and France. The festival runs from August 19 to 30. Tickets: 01989 563330.

The citizens of Bath may prefer to remain at home between August 26 and September 11, however, when the Bath Shakespeare Festival 99 will be in full swing. The strangest ingredient of this Bardfest will be a performance of Hamlet starring a Lithuanian rock star. No, I didn't know they had them either, but it is difficult to imagine Robbie Williams or any of the Manics as the Dane, so perhaps Andrius Mamontoves is a kind of performer so far not encountered in Britain. This production has been garnering awards around the world and is said to be "visually stunning, strikingly dramatic and spectacularly beautiful", set in an eerie landscape where "water tumbles like mist on to the stage and chandeliers of ice slowly melt below twisting saw blades". English surtitles will be provided.

Northern Broadsides, well-known for their energetic, no-nonsense style, will premiere their King Lear at Bath with the company's artistic director, Barrie Rutter both directing and playing the tragic king.

The New Shakespeare Company's 1920s-set Twelfth Night and the controversial Macbeth - Director's Cut, in which the murderous pair do not die, are other attractions. And 60 young people get the change to appear in a professionally produced Pericles at Prior Park College. Tickets: 01225 448844.

Heather Neill

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