2024 is Iain Grandage's final term as Artistic Director of the Perth Festival, and he is planning to make it an event "filled with light, life and love". The theme is Ngaangk (the Noongar word for "sun" or "mother") and Grandage promises a festival "radiant with stories from here and around the globe that celebrate our shared humanity under the same sun".
A major international visitor is the Akram Khan Company from the UK, with Junglebook reimagined. For this work Kahn takes the Rudyard Kipling classic and reinterprets it through the lens of today's generation of children. The acclaimed company has been touring the world with this production. It is a visual feast, with a large cast of dancers and stunning animation, and an original musical score by Jocelyn Pook, who has composed for many dance productions as well as film and TV. In Australia Junglebook will be presented in Canberra, Perth and Adelaide, with visits to New Zealand and Singapore in between. (Look out for our interview with Khan in the Jan/Feb/Mar issue of Dance Australia.)
Already proving incredibly popular is Stunt Double, by The Farm Collective, which is based on the Gold Coast. Held in the Studio Underground in Northbridge, Stunt Double takes audiences inside the filming of a 1970s "Aussie action flick", and audience members can be part of the action. Tickets are already in short supply.
Other highly acclaimed Australian companies on the bill are intercultural dance company Marrugeku, which lives between Broome and Sydney, and 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”. Townsville’s Dancenorth will present its kaleidoscopic Wayfinder, which takes the theme of navigation by the sun and stars as its inspiration, and “positively sings with joyous energy”, according to Dance Australia critic Denise Richardson.
Following its success last year, Perth contemporary dance collective Strut is once again hosting Perth Moves, a free event that is open to everyone and offering a range of dance opportunities: from bite-sized performances, public classes, and even a dance-battle hosted by leading DJs.
The Perth Festival runs from February 9 to March 3. For the full program, go to https://www.perthfestival.com.au/
Look out for our interview with Akram Khan!