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5 Dance Performances to See at Sydney Festival 2015

Home > Sydney > Lists | Dancing | Festivals
by Jenny Wong (subscribe)
Food, Travel, Lifestyle Blogger ... Curation of things you can see, taste or do
Published December 25th 2014
Every January, Sydney Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas. Sydney Festival has a rich history spanning back 38 years. The festival runs from 8 January to 26 January 2015 (Australia Day) with a spectacular program of free and ticketed events spanning contemporary and classical music, theatre, dance, visual arts and much more.

As much as I'd like to go to all of them, time won't permit but I naturally am drawn to all performances related to dance. I initially was drawn to dance as a form of physical and creative exercise which is good for the body as well as the soul. Physically, dance helps with improved co-ordination, body symmetry reducing illness and improved self-confidence. I recall it was learning to dance that helped me get over the fear of being in front of a large crowd and public speaking. It is an intensely physical activity that causes self-consciousness to fade away. Dance allows you an escape from the real world, to immerse ourselves fully in the social environment in a way that touches our collective sense of being. The feeling of 'letting go' is enhanced when surrounded by others in the same trance-like state. You can read more about how I learnt to dance on my Blog. I now collaborate with friends and create with them to come up with our own choreography and we like to draw inspiration by watching other forms of dance, crossing cultures and pushing boundaries.

For those who love all form of dances like me, here are my Top 5 dance performances to see at Sydney Festival 2015:

#1 Kiss and Cry

Kiss & Cry is a sweeping cinematic romance with a twist, starring a duo of dexterous, dancing hands, moving with precision onscreen, through a series of miniature landscapes. In an Australian premiere, the Belgian love story poetically unfolds, blurring the boundaries between dance, theatre, music and film.

Sydney Festival 2015 Kiss and Cry
Kiss And Cry

A collaboration between prize-winning filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael and choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey, a founding member of Rosas dance company, Kiss & Cry enters a space of deep imagination, memory and innovation. Filmed and projected onscreen simultaneously, a sensuous small-scale ballet comes to life before the audiences eyes.

The cinematic production tells the story of an older woman Gisèle who looks back on her past loves. She begins with her first and most pure memory of a 14-year-old boy whose hand she only held for a brief moment in a crowded train before he disappeared, never to be seen again.

Gisèle tells the stories of five lovers, each through her encounter with their hands. Her wistful narration, written by novelist and radio personality Thomas Gunzig and co-creator Jaco Van Dormael, transports audiences from their seats into the miniature world of her personal encounters.

Where: Carriageworks Bay 17
When: 22-25 January at 7.30pm
Sat at 2pm and 7.30pm
Duration: 85minutes, no interval
Price Premium: $75 A Reserve $65 / $59 conc
Bookings: 1300 856 876

#2 Dancing For the Gods

Sri Lanka's most prestigious dancers, the Chitrasena Dance Company brings a fresh perspective to a 2,500 year dance tradition when it tours to Sydney for the first time in 40 years.

Sydney Festival 2015
Dancing For The Gods

From a demon dancer driven by pulsating drumbeats, to a homage to Ganesha, to a reflection on the Buddha, Dancing for the Gods charts the evolution of the ancient Kandyan dance tradition and transports it boldly into the present.

Propelled by singing and drumming, time-honoured classical movements unite with modern choreography and theatre craft in these 2,500 year old Sri Lankan rituals.

With its origins based on offerings to a pantheon of gods, deities and demons, Dancing for the Gods is a gift – one of the world's oldest continuous dance forms unveiled to a new generation of Sydney theatre-goers.

The Chitrasena Dance Company, Sri Lanka's internationally acclaimed traditional dance ensemble, was established in 1943. Born in 1921, Chitrasena (born Amaratunga Arachige Maurice Dias) was a pioneering dancer on the world stage, internationally known for establishing a modern Sri Lankan tradition of dance and popularising it worldwide. The Chitrasena Dance School was the centre of new forms of arts and culture from the 1940s to the 70s and became a cultural haven to leading artists of that period who travelled from across the globe, including film stars, performers and dancers including Martha Graham, Paul Tailor, Nurtan and Ravi Shankar.

Chitrasena was the first Asian dance company to visit Australia in 1963. It toured again to Australia in 1972, but has not returned for more than four decades. Now the third generation of the Chitrasena family brings its explosive dance styles again to Sydney, with choreography by Heshna Wignaraja, the grand-daughter of the school's visionary founder. Dancing for the Gods is anchored to rigour of strict tradition and discipline. But it is not held hostage to ancient rituals. The work's creators have added technical mastery, precision and sensuality to captures contemporary imaginations. Expect to be transported to a different time and place.

Where: York Theatre, Seymour Centre
When: 8–11 January at 7.30pm
Price: Premium $65
A Reserve $55/$50
Duration: 80minutes no interval
Bookings: Sydney Festival 1300 856 876
Seymour Centre 02 9351 7940

#3 Inside There Falls

Inside There Falls is the first major installation in Australia by award-winning composer, performer and visual artist Mira Calix. Making its world premiere at Sydney Festival 2015, audiences are invited into a blanched new landscape; a fragmented labyrinth of sound, cascading white paper walls and elusive dance sequences choreographed by Sydney Dance Company Artistic Director Rafael Bonachella.

Sydney Festival 2015
Inside There Falls

Presented at Carriageworks, the fully immersive installation blends technological innovation with organic materials as music, voice and movement seamlessly converge.

The text, which inspired Mira's new artwork was created by Sydney writer Brett Clegg and is a median on myth and identity. The words permeate the space, audibly flowing between materials, from loose sheets to lithe bodies, hidden amongst folds of paper falling from the rafters. The audience moves through the space at their own pace, immersed in a maze of music and dance, gathering fragments of text to create their own story.

Where: Carriageworks Bay 17
When: 8-17 January Noon – 8pm,
Daily Price: FREE
Booking: Sydney Festival 1300 856 876 /

#4 Puncture

Three leading Sydney based performing arts companies have combined forces with some of Australia's most renowned dance and theatre makers, under the direction of Patrick Nolan, to explore the rituals of courtship and young love in PUNCTURE at Riverside Theatres from 21 to 25 January in a world premiere performance at Sydney Festival 2015.

Sydney Festival 2015

The large-scale production includes an ensemble of 42 young performers, with some of the nation's best physical theatre artists and contemporary dancers working alongside the extraordinary voices of VOX, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs young person's choir.

For centuries we have used dance to connect, seduce and play; from the masked ball to the mosh pit. PUNCTURE invites the audience to embrace the risk of intimacy in a crowded room, from the restraint and formality of classical dance through to the sensuality of the tango and the rebellion of youth.

Using the rituals of dance, PUNCTURE explores the nuances of play between a group of young people discovering each other through dance; the preening, the groupings, the fighting and the flirting.

Where: Riverside Theatre
When: 21 January at 8pm
22 January at 8pm
23-24 January at 2pm & 8pm
25 January at 2pm
Price: $40/$36
Preview: $25
Duration: 60 minutes
Bookings: Sydney Festival 1300 856 876
Riverside Theatres 02 8839 3399

#5 Long Grass

Indigenous choreographer Vicki Van Hout's powerful new dance theatre work, Long Grass, combines weaving, shadow play, text and video, with an idiosyncratic dance language, to find warmth, humour and play in a community at the edge.

Sydney Festival 2015
Long Grass

In a world premiere, Van Hout boldly explores the intersection between the traditional and urban experience of contemporary Aboriginal Australia. 'Long Grass' is the term for Aboriginal people perceived as being homeless and on the fringes, yet living right in the middle of the city. Inspired by this term, Van Hout creates a performance piece that raises the question – can honour, courage, solidarity and belonging exist outside the trappings of a formal postcode?

As layers of cloth are woven, a story unfolds. Day and night intersect on stage, as dark deeds and rabbit-runs are intensely brought to life by dancers only half visible in half light. The audience experiences a unique movement vocabulary, with each of the choreographed sequences inspired by Indigenous and contemporary dance practice. With the help of storyteller Gary Lang, a Larrakia man born and raised in Darwin, the performance is also imbued with a profound knowledge of Indigenous community customs.

Where: Seymour Centre, Everest Theatre
When: 14 & 16 January at 6.30pm
17 January at 8.30pm
18 January at 3.30pm
Price: $35 General Admission
Bookings: Sydney Festival 1300 856 876
Seymour Centre 02 9351 7940

Multipacks are available for all Sydney Festival events except Disco Dome. Book 3 or more events and save. Discounts apply to full price A Reserve or General Admission tickets.

For those who feel inspired by all this dance at the Sydney Festival 2015 and would like to try some bollywood dance moves, give the following workshop run by Monsuun Dance Group a go:

Date: 18 January 2015
Venue: CentreStage Academy, 765 Pacific Hwy Chatswood, upstairs premises.
Time: 10.30 am to 11.30 am .
Cost per person is $20
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Why? For the love of dance
When: 8-26 January 2015
Phone: ( 61) 2 8248 6500
Where: Around Sydney
Cost: See individual performances for cost
Your Comment
Dancing for the Gods looks good.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12386) 1632 days ago
The Sri Lankan dancing would be fascinating to watch.
by Wandering Foodies (score: 2|479) 1631 days ago
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