Billingham dance festival gets Mexican artist's statue

Bob Cook and Carmen Avalos unveil the statue Image copyright Billingham International Festival
Image caption Carmen Avalos' sculpture will be a permanent reminder of the annual festival

A town is celebrating its 52nd dance festival with a new statue made by a Mexican artist.

Sculptress Carmen Avalos is currently exhibiting work in Switzerland and New York - and now Billingham.

She made the World United By Dance bronze sculpture to celebrate Billingham's International Folklore Festival of World Dance.

The festival attracts performers from around the world.

Bob Cook, leader of Stockton Council, said: "Being a boy growing up in Billingham the Folklore Festival was a big part of my childhood. I remember the whole community coming together to welcome and enjoy the wonderful dancers, costumes and music.

"The sculpture beautifully depicts more than 50 years of world dance coming to Billingham."

Olga Maloney, artistic director of the festival, said: "The dancers sweep into the town for one week each year and bring their energy, culture and passion for dance which is shared by everyone involved. We wanted to commission a piece of work that reflects that passion and people can enjoy when they go about their daily life."

The festival ends with a concert in the Festival Arena on Saturday afternoon.

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