One of the best things a festival can do is make you look at a city, and the spaces within it, in a slightly different light. That’s exactly what happens in Australian dancer Joel Bray’s Biladurang, in which he invites a group of around 16 people into his suite for a glass of bubbles and some rather intimate confessions. The show is part monologue, part chat and participatory performance, and part contemporary dance work. At one point, he leaves the suite to take a bath – footage of which is beamed into the bedroom on CCTV – and returns covered in soap suds. He then dresses and continues the story. That Bray is able to make something cohesive out of all these different elements is down largely to his humour, charisma and openness with the audience. It’s impressive that it never feels intimidating, despite the intimacy of the set-up (and the nudity). The work was developed when Bray was touring and living between various cities. Hotels had become his home in many ways, but there’s something about those temporary spaces that can leave you feeling unanchored. And, in a lot of ways, the show is about Bray’s search for an anchor as he floats around the world. He shares stories from his life, musing on his sexual awakening as a gay man, the way he relates to sex now, and how he’s perceived by the world as a light-skinned Wiradjuri man. It turns out, the thing that holds Bray together is his connection to country and the stories of his ancestors – particularly the story of the bil
Our every movement, our smiles, our frowns, our expressions of surprise are learned by mirroring; watching One Infinity, former Chunky Move director Gideon Obarzanek’s new work with the Jun Tian Fang Music Ensemble, the audience is asked to not only consider, but put into practice the commonplace adage that to mirror is to learn. As a collaboration between Eastern and Western artists and a celebration of our shared cultural forms, it’s also a salutary reminder that we never stop learning, that the mirror remains a potent symbol in a fracturing world. The first surprising thing about this piece is the space. Two halves of the audience sit facing each other. The stage is a gorgeous black-lacquered mirror pool, on which sit various Chinese instruments, including more than one guqin and a recorder. The piece opens with Genevieve Lacey playing solo on this recorder, bringing birdsong to mind, but also the quixotic nature of thought itself. Wang Peng takes up the guqin, one of the oldest and most revered of China’s musical history, and it’s like we’ve entered another plane, delicate and precise and yet wonderfully resonant. The dancers are already among us, and we watch them – alternately so close we can reach out and touch them, or from the other side of the stage – as they unfurl together like highly evolved plant life, or a human embodiment of inflorescence. These themes of growth and maturation will be echoed later, in a beautifully modulated sequence that begins with the dan
Whether it’s their fiery cuisine, passionate dancing, or enthusiasm for partying, Sydney’s Latin American community brings a lot of bang to our city’s culture. The Inner West Fiesta will keep spreading that wonderful spice with a full day of performance, dancing, eating and shopping. This colourful, family-friendly festival is only in its infancy – the 2019 party is the second iteration of the event, organised by local dance school Latin Dance Australia. As well as the obligatory social dancefloor, where the crowd can learn to everything from salsa, to samba and reggaeton steps, there’ll be performances by the school’s competitive dancers, live music and DJ sets, and all kinds of fun for kids like a jumping castle, face-painting, games and a petting zoo. The grass at the Marrickville Portugal Community Club is the perfect spot to set up for a picnic. On the day, you’ll get to explore authentic Central and South American cuisines, like Brazilian barbecue, Peruvian ceviche, Colombian arepas and Argentinian empanadas. And for this edition of the fiesta, there’ll be a whole new set of art and craft stalls offering colourful gifts and activities. You can be part of all the acción for only $10 if you buy a ticket online, or $15 at the door. Kids can cha cha cha through the door for $5 or for free if they’re under six.
This comic ballet isn’t traditionally performed for crowds of tutu-clad children, but this rendition of Coppélia will delight kids aged three and up. The recital runs for just under one hour, with magic tricks, colourful costumes, toys and friendly narration making ballet more relatable for kids. It will run to the traditional story, where young lovers Swanilda and Franz set out to discover the secrets that lie within Dr Coppelius’ mysterious workshop full of mechanical dolls. The choreography will follow Arthur Saint-Leon’s design, with additions by David McAllister.
This unusual performance sees dancers Erak Mith from Phnom Penh and Aaron Lim from Darwin compare their experiences of hip hop culture through movement in a 40-minute dance-off style performance. Channeling the raw energy and improvisation of a b-boy, these two skilled performers will follow the choreography of internationally renowned Sydney hip hop dance artist Nick Power and the sound design of Jack Prest. Together, they’ll explore ideas about culture, locality and individual style. The performance marks the end of four years of dance exchange, competition, performance and travel between between Darwin's D*City Rockers and Cambodia's Tiny Toones. It is best suited to kids with a keen interest in dance over the age of eight.