The youngest city in the UK, Birmingham is a leader on the UK dance scene, home to some of the best dance venues in the country and to a rich mix of talented dancers, choreographers and companies. Dance is in the bones of Birmingham like nowhere else and the biannual Birmingham International Dance Festival, 1-24 June, is an exuberant showcase of all the city has to offer.

6th BIDF presents an accessible and varied programme of dance: the best of British dance scene in multi-award winning Wayne McGregor’s Atomos through dance legends, American Twyla Tharp (In The Upper Room) and Rui Horta (Wasp) from Portugal to ground-breaking Origami turning a shipping container into a moving, origami-like structure, Air from Compagnie Didier Theron featuring dancers in giant inflatable latex suits and Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s take on the classic tale of Woyzeck presenting 100 strong community chorus.

One of the main highlights of this year’s programme is Candoco Dance Company’s double bill: Face In and Let’s Talk about Dis. Established in 1991 Candoco is the company of disabled and non-disabled performers which focuses on challenging the perceptions of art and ability. Yasmeen Godder’s new work for Candoco, Face In, is a sensual and disturbing ode to intimacy and imagination, expressed through striking images and daring uninhibited dance. Set to an urban indie score, Candoco invites the audiences to bask in this wild fictional world that feels uncomfortably familiar yet strangely distorted.

In his first commission for a dance company, Let’s Talk About Dis, visual artist Hetain Patel has created a humorous and intimate piece for Candoco Dance Company that builds on an exploration of the dancers’ personalities and distinctive physicalities. The work is a playful interrogation of identity that probes the audience to think beyond surface appearances.

One of the UK’s most exciting visual artists, Hetain’s solo-show American Boy, a personal and humorous take on identity shape-shifting, received popular and critical acclaim, playing to sold-out audiences at Sadler’s Wells. In 2013 he was invited to do a TED talk entitled Who Am I? Think Again which has been viewed online over two million times.

Australian-born and Glasgow-based Caroline Bowditch is a performance artist and choreographer with years of experience in working to improve accessibility and inclusivity within the arts. In her new work for Candoco, Dedicated To… Caroline reveals the extraordinary bonds we make throughout our lives. The work is a celebration of female strength, support and friendship. It explores how people come in and out of our lives, how friendships evolve and adapt and how they can shape who we are.

Family-friendly VR_I by Swiss artist Cie Gilles Jobin using Artanim Real Virtuality is an immersive and unique experience of virtual reality. Tracked by an optical motion capture system, participants become their own avatar, physically moving in a virtual environment, meeting five virtual dancers. They are encouraged to interact with other VR adventurers in a thrilling encounter that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities. There will be a wheelchair avatar enabling people using wheelchairs to see themselves in a chair in the virtual reality world (whereas before they would be floating in the air).

Spectators will be equipped with a virtual reality system comprising a backpack, an on-board computer and a virtual reality headset. Markers will be placed on their hands and feet (or wheelchair), enabling them to see their limbs or chair virtually. Behind them, the infrared cameras capture their movements in real time.