Darwin Festival 2022 heats up winter

NT Dance Company.
NT Dance Company.

Over 18 gloriously tropical days and nights, Darwin Festival 2022 will excite and entice with a rich program of events spanning music, theatre, comedy, dance, cabaret, visual arts and family fun.

Running from 4 – 21 August, Australia’s hottest winter arts festival has recently unveiled its full program — brimming with Top End talent, some of the hottest interstate and international artists, and an eclectic mix of performances guaranteed to thrill Territorians and visitors alike.

Epic live music gigs will light up the Territory’s favourite open-air venue, the INPEX Sunset Stage in Festival Park, with the likes of Emma Donovan and The Putbacks, Arlo Parks, Jaguar Jonze, Alex The Astronaut, Confidence Man,Elsy Wameyo, Tropical F Storm and Ngaiire taking to the stage. Comic virtuoso and musical genius Tim Minchin will also make his Darwin debut at the Darwin Amphitheatre as part of this year’s Festival.

Theatre works featured in the program include the layered and compelling Meremere, an autobiographical multimedia dance work from New Zealand that follows the inspirational life of critically acclaimed dancer and performer Rodney Bell; Maureen: Harbinger of Death, a celebration of the wisdom of female elders; and smash-hit queer thriller DIRT.

Dance highlights include TWO, a joyful celebration of trust, as two friends test the power hierarchy inherent in the Indian Kathak tradition through dance and dialogue. An intergenerational and interdisciplinary bromance between a dynamic dancer and a maestro Tabla musician, TWO is performed by creator and choreographer Raghav Handa and musician Maharshi Raval (5 – 7 August).

Waŋa sees NT Dance Company fuse traditional lore with contemporary movement to create an evocative new dance work. Accompanied by Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s string quartet, Waŋa (Spirit) showcases choreographer Gary Lang’s unique style of contemporary ‘Indigenous ballet’ in a moving, epic production (5 – 6 August).

In addition, The Australian Ballet’s Regional Tour Ballet Gala will bring the joy of classical dance to the Top End in a dazzling display of ballet. A highlight of the program will be Swan Lake Variations, a tribute to the beauty of the best-loved composer of ballet music, Tchaikovsky. This never-before-seen piece has been especially choreographed for the Regional Tour Ballet Gala by former Artistic Director David McAllister (18 – 19 August).

Each year, Darwin Festival serves up a smorgasbord of devilish delights. With a wild new show that celebrates and subverts cultural icons, YUMMY ICONIC promises to deliver drag variety at its best. Self-proclaimed “Cabaret du Sex Clown” Betty Grumble is back with her latest offering, Enemies of Grooviness Eat Sh!t, as is larger-than-life cabaret star Sarah Ward (aka Yana Alana) with herqueer sci-fi rock extravaganza, The Legend of Queen Kong.

Mini Festival fans will be spoilt for choice with a range of events catering to families. Take advantage of the stunning dry season weather with two epic picnics, as the much-loved City of Darwin Teddy Bears’ Picnic returns to the Esplanade for a day of fun, while the lawns of the Museum and Art Gallery of NT transform for a Prehistoric Picnic, where ancient megafauna roam. The creators of The Bookbinder return with their darkly comic and inventive one-man show Tröll, whileshadow puppetry, swinging Irish music and stunning physical performance bring to life the story of The Boy Who Talked to Dogs.

On the final weekend of the Festival, a truly unique spectacle will illuminate the waters off Jervois Park as 160 drones take flight for balarr inyiny. This breathtaking, choreographed sky show, led by Larrakia artist Jenna Lee, will transform the coastline with ancient stories of place and Larrakia culture, brought to life through LED drone lighting, 3D animation and a cinematic soundscape. This free, immersive light performance will be held over three nights and is a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for audiences young and old. 

Darwin Festival Artistic Director Felix Preval said, “There is so much to celebrate in this year’s program, with over 150 performances and 80 events spread across 20 venues and featuring more than 400 artists from the NT, Australia and overseas. Some of the incredible projects in this year’s Darwin Festival program have been in the works for years – delayed, postponed or imprisoned by the pandemic. Others are spilling hot from the lips of artists, responding to the present moment. Some bring stories thousands of years in the telling to Festival audiences for the very first time. All are as bold and urgent as anything we’ve ever presented.”

Minister for Major Events, Paul Kirby said, “It’s fantastic to see the Darwin Festival reveal an amazing program that especially features local artists, along with national and international performers. After a challenging few years, it’s great to see interstate and international acts returning. From the beloved Teddy Bear’s Picnic through to The Australian Ballet, from Tim Minchin to a drone light show by local Larrakia Artist Jenna Lee, there is such a wide variety of events.”

He added, “There’s never been a better time to get involved and enjoy everything our beautiful city has to offer during the Darwin Festival. As an event that boosts visitor numbers, supports local businesses and puts the Top End on the map, the Northern Territory Government couldn’t more proud to support the Darwin Festival.”

Darwin Festival’s full program of events is now on sale. Tickets and Friends of the Festival memberships are available from darwinfestival.org.au

Darwin Festival 2022 will run 4 – 21 August. For more information and the full program, visit www.darwinfestival.org.au

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