Skip to main content

The Science and Industry Museum in Manchester is open. Book your free tickets now.

New dance piece announced for Manchester Science Festival 2018

Spanish Flu inspired show will be part of IWM North’s Making a New World season.

We are delighted to announce Contagion, a brand-new dance piece by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, is one of the first events to be added to the Manchester Science Festival 2018 programme. Performed in the spectacular setting of IWM North, this major new work will explore viral infection, reflecting on the First World War and the devastating effect of pandemics.

2018 marks the centenary of the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, one of the deadliest episodes in human history. The Spanish Flu pandemic is believed to have originated near the Western Front during the First World War. It claimed more lives than the First World War itself.

This parallel warfare (man vs man and virus vs man) will influence the choreography and design of the piece. Jeyasingh will also draw on themes from the influenza virus itself, notorious for its ability to rapidly mutate, taking inspiration from the dynamics by which the virus enters the host cell.

The works of Egon Schiele, a figurative painter of the early 20th century, will provide further inspiration for the piece. Schiele tragically succumbed to Spanish Flu at the age of 28, three days after his pregnant wife. Through twisted anatomical body shapes, his works reflect early understanding of neuroscience and psychology and thematically suggest both war and the rapid spread of disease.

Contagion will form part of IWM’s Making a New World season, a programme of innovative exhibitions, installations and events taking place across IWM North and IWM London between 27 July 2018 and 31 March 2019. The season will explore themes of remembrance and how the First World War has shaped the society we live in today. 

Contagion joins the headline exhibition Electricity: The Spark of Life as one of the first events to be announced for this year’s Manchester Science Festival. The largest science festival of its type in the country, Manchester Science Festival puts science at the heart of culture, finding creative ways to communicate science to audiences of all ages. 

Antonio Benitez, Director of the Manchester Science Festival, said:

“I am delighted to be able to announce this fantastic new piece by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance at IWM North as part of this year’s Manchester Science Festival. This new work, which dramatically expresses the effects of a global pandemic through dance, is a great example of why Manchester Science Festival is the boldest and most creative science festival in the UK.”

Susie Thornberry, Assistant Director Public Engagement and Learning at Imperial War Museums, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Manchester Science Festival and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance to explore this lesser known story of the First World War and the notion that its impact was felt long after the guns fell silent. This is part of IWM’s commitment to giving everyone the chance to understand and debate the human impact of conflict through our programme of innovative events and exhibitions.”

The festival is produced by the Museum of Science and Industry. 

Contagion is a free event and will take place on Sunday 21 October at IWM North. More information about the performance will be available closer to the time.

For more information, visit the Manchester Science Festival website at

Notes to editors

For more information, images or interview requests, please contact Kat Harrison-Dibbits, Press and PR Manager at the Museum of Science and Industry on 0161 606 0176 or email

For information and images on IWM North and the Making a New World season please contact Poppy Andrews, Communications Manager (Exhibitions and Programming) at or 0207 091 3069.

About the Manchester Science Festival

Produced by the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester Science Festival (MSF) is a creative, playful and surprising science festival taking place across Greater Manchester. It is the largest science festival in England and the North’s premiere cultural celebration of all things related to science and innovation. 

Dubbed ‘part laboratory, part playground’, the Festival invites over 100,000 visitors to join in more than 120 unique and extraordinary events every year, ranging from art installations and theatre to comedy, debates and workshops.

About the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Its mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond. Manchester was one of the first global, industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world. From textiles to computers, the objects and documents held in the museum’s collection tell stories of everyday life over the last 200 years, from light bulbs to locomotives.                                                      

The Museum of Science and Industry is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums that also includes the Science Museum in London, the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon, and the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford.  

About Shobana Jeyasingh Dance

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance was set up in 1988 to present the work of award-winning choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh, who has been creating dynamic, fearless and enigmatic dance works for 30 years. Jeyasingh’s work is rooted in her particular vision of culture and society and taps into both the intellectual and physical power of dance.

Past works have explored such diverse topics as genetics, classical painting, culinary trends and urban architecture. Jeyasingh uses original design, music, media and site-specific staging to complement and counterpoint her choreography. Her eclectic band of creative collaborators have included filmmakers, mathematicians, digital designers, writers and animators as well as lighting and set designers. Jeyasingh has also made a significant contribution to dance in the UK and internationally through her published writings, papers, panel presentations and broadcast interviews.

About IWM

IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

Our unique Collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.

IWM’s five branches, which attract over 2 million visitors each year, are: IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that was recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain's best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast. 

About IWM North

The multi award winning IWM North brings the national collection to northern audiences. Designed by world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind to represent a globe shattered by conflict, the iconic building, innovative and dynamic exhibitions, use of digital media through hourly Big Picture Shows and public events explore how war shapes lives and inspires and encourages debate. 

Open daily 10.00–17.00. Last entry 30 minutes before closing. (Closed 24–26 December). Free admission. 

IWM North, The Quays, Trafford Wharf Road, Manchester M17 1TZ (close to MediaCityUK Metrolink and Junction 9 of the M60).
T: 0161 836 4000 
E:  / @IWMNorth /

First World War Centenary

2014–2018 marks the centenary of the First World War, a landmark anniversary for Britain and the world. IWM is marking the centenary by leading a vibrant, four year programme of cultural activities across the world. For more information visit

Part of the Science Museum Group