I’ve never entirely understood why big cities have arts festivals. Melbourne and Sydney are both big cities by any international comparison and yet they spend considerable sums to stage festivals. Adelaide, Perth and even Brisbane are of such a size that festivals make sense; indeed Brisbane’s most recent festival has recently finished to considerable acclaim. Well, the answer has to be in the programing which must be substantially different from the artistic fare on offer throughout the rest of the year. And it mostly is, even if it is not aimed at me.
The current Melbourne Festival (Oct 10-26) is a good example, presenting a range of events which are unlike the attractions otherwise available. Circus is getting a particularly vigorous workout. Unsurprisingly, Melbourne has a particular affinity for circus so between the main Festival and the unmediated Fringe now is circus heaven.
Across the Festival there are 15 world premieres plus 21 Australian premieres so you can’t say you’ve seen it all before. An outstanding attraction is the retrospective of the work of New York choreographer Trisha Brown in From All Angles, to be danced by her eponymous company Oct 23-26. Brown launched her own company in 1970 at alternative sites in Manhattan’s then unfashionable Soho.
Trisha Brown became a legend in contemporary dance retiring only in 2012. The Melbourne programs will feature works created between 1976 and 2011; an opportunity to enjoy her works and assess their impact. Good to see sponsorship by The Dancing Architects; ‘crowd’ funding by individual Melbourne architects.
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