The 2024 Sydney Festival has been announced, with more than 150 events packed into 24 days. The annual summer arts feast, which runs from January 5 to 28, has a healthy contingent of dance productions, from local artists as well as visiting companies.
For contemporary dance lovers a highlight is the Goteborgsoperans Danskompani (Gothenburg Dance Company) from Sweden, which boasts a repertoire of some of the finest contemporary choreographers working today. Led by Icelander Katrin Hall since 2016, it has a multinational ensemble of 38 dancers. They will be performing Skid by Damien Jalet and SAABA by Sharon Eyal.
Belgian/French choreographer Jalet is familiar to Australian audiences (his eery, slippery Vessel was a feature of the Perth Festival in 2019). The Sydney Festival will present his Skid, in which 17 dancers battle gravity on a vertiginous, 34-degree slope – sliding, swaying, struggling back to the top. Skid is, Jalet says, a “poetics of surrender and resistance” about “the attempt to climb and the fear of falling”.
This will be paired with Eyal’s SAABA, for which “an intoxicating dancefloor with pulsating rhythms sees dancers pushing movements to an unearthly extreme”. Eyal is a sought-after Israeli-born French-based choreographer who was house choreographer for the famous Batsheva company as well as being the leader of her own L.E.V. company, with her innovative choreography in the repertoires around the world.
Another contemporary dance double bill, but on a smaller scale, will be presented in the intimate Neilson Studio at Sydney Dance Company. It will comprise a solo Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus, created by Oona Doherty and performed by Sandrine Lescourant (aka Mufasa), as well as Wolverine, choreographed and performed by Australian independent artist Emma Harrison.
Intercultural dance company Marrugeku, which lives between Broome in WA and Sydney, will present its all new Mutiara, which promises to “bring to life the buried, haunting story of Broome’s pearling industry, and the bond between Malay peoples and First Peoples of the Kimberley”.
Force Majeure and Ilberra Theatre Company will present four Torres Strait Islander women in GURR ERA OP (“the face of the sea” in Meriam Mir/Torres Strait language), a celebratory sharing of culture and a call to action in the face of climate devastation, interweaving hybrid Torres Strait Islander contemporary storytelling, movement and spoken word, choreographed by award winning Ghenoa Gela, herself of Torres Strait descent.
Also from up north, Townsville’s Dancenorth will present its kaleidoscopic Wayfinder, which has been making its way around the country to much acclaim. And from Brazil, the Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Dancas will bring the exuberant and colourful Ecantado, which, like other works on this program, asks about the impact of human life on the physical and spirit world.
The Festival has also organised a number of dance workshops, classes and immersive events. Just go https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/ for full details.