By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.
Looking for something dancey to do or see in Sydney this winter? Here are our top five picks for winter.
1. Big Dance
A biennial festival founded by the Mayor of London in 2006, Big Dance is the world’s largest celebration of dance. This month, it’s coming to Australia! Sydney Dance Company’s Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela has choreographed a dance routine that will be performed by thousands of volunteers around the globe, in Sydney, London and Glasgow. In Sydney, the event will take place on the Northern Boardwalk of Sydney Opera House on Sunday, July 13. Live video links will connect the dancers in all three cities.
Big Dance is all about celebrating the fact that dance is for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Anyone can learn the routine, which is tailored specifically for people without professional dance experience, and it’s totally free to learn and perform.
For more information, go to www.sydneydancecompany.com.
2. Bangarra’s Patyegarang
Australia’s award-winning dance theatre company Bangarra celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, they are taking their new work Patyegarang on a national tour to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne. Until July 12, the Sydney Opera House will host this inspirational take on a true piece of Australian history.
In 1972, the notebooks containing the observations of First Fleet astronomer William Dawes were discovered in London. Dawes, learning from the 15-year-old girl Patyegarang, had notated the language of Sydney’s native Eora people, in the hope that it would not be forgotten.
The narrative dance work, rich with Indigenous movement and costumes, is choreographed by Artistic Director Stephen Page and set to an original soundscape by David Page. For more information, head to bangarra.com.au.
3. Keir Choreographic Award Finals
From July 16 to 19, Carriageworks will present the finals of the brand new, biennial Keir Choreographic Award. Dedicated to commissioning new work and promoting innovation in contemporary dance, the Award brings together some of the most exciting up-and-comers Australia has to offer.
The prestigious line-up of judges has been selected from around the world, and includes Sweden’s Marten Spangberg, USA’s Matthew Lyons, Australia’s own Josephine Ridge and Becky Hilton, and Phillip Keir, Director of The Keir Foundation.
Eight artists, comprising a selection of dancers, choreographers and visual artists, are in the running for the prize. After being presented at Dancehouse in Melbourne on July 3-6 and July 10-13, four works will be performed at the Sydney finals. The commissioned artists who are up for the Award are: Sarah Aiken (VIC); James Batchelor (VIC); Tim Darbyshire (VIC); Matthew Day (VIC); Atlanta Eke (VIC); Shaun Gladwell (NSW); Jane McKernan (NSW); and Brooke Stamp (VIC).
For more information, visit www.carriageworks.com.au.
4. The 2014 Helpmann Awards
The annual Helpmann Awards are right up there with the most prestigious honours that can be gained in the Australian arts community. Celebrating the best performers and productions in dance, physical theatre, musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music and theatre, this promises to be one seriously entertaining evening.
This year’s ceremony takes place at the Capitol Theatre on August 18. But if you can’t make it along, you can catch the official broadcast on Foxtel’s ARENA channel. The evening will kick off with a performance of The Circle Of Life, the beloved opening number from Disney’s The Lion King, which plays throughout July and August at the Capitol.
For more information, check out www.helpmannawards.com.au.
5. Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships & Open Jazz Dance Group Final
One of the most popular dance events on Sydney’s calendar is back! The Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships and Open Jazz Dance Group Final will take place at Sydney Opera House on August 3.
With over $36,000 in prize money available, the ballet scholarships are amongst the most coveted in Australia and New Zealand. Advanced ballet students from all over both countries have been vying for the top awards. On the big night, eight finalists will perform variations from the classical repertoire as well as their own chosen solos. Scholarships are available for just one boy and one girl.
In the Open Jazz Dance Group Final, eight troupes will perform outstanding jazz routines, contrasting the performances of the ballet students. Audiences will also be treated to performances by Sydney Eisteddfod winners, plus an exciting guest artist. This event will sell out! To book, head to www.sydneyeisteddfod.com.au.
Photo (top): You’re invited to join in Big Dance Australia! Photo by Peter Greig, courtesy of Sydney Dance Company.