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Auckland Arts Festival 2017


Auckland Arts Festival 2017

A dance lovers dream

From 8-26 March 2017, the Auckland Arts Festival will envelop the city in creativity, beauty, light and sound, emotion, horror, comedy and dazzling brilliance. The 2017 programme is a superb, can’t-stay-away line up of performance and visual arts, which includes three incredible dance shows.

RICE, by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, is a stunning depiction of the life cycle of rice, and humankind, told through astounding contemporary dance. In a rare visit to New Zealand, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre’s exquisite dancers will transform the ASB Theatre stage on 10-12 March 2017 into an expansive choreographic and visual panorama of Taiwan’s living, breathing rice paddies.

RICE is a devotion in dance, a choreographic odyssey of the grain that has become a symbol of Asia. Folksongs in Hakka, the oldest among the existing Chinese dialects, and operatic arias from the West, as well as the rustling of grain, soughing of wind and pealing of thunder complete the soundscape in this sublime contemporary dance work about death and rebirth, devastation and resurrection.

The inspiration for RICE came from the landscape and story of Chihshang in the East Rift Valley of Taiwan - home of the “Emperor’s Rice.” Awed by the immense waves of grain rolling across expansive fields of rice, and inspired by the environmentally-conscious farmers, Cloudgate Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Lin Hwai-min took the dancers to Chihshang, where they joined the farmers in harvesting the rice. Out of this experience, Lin created an exuberant yet powerful contemporary dance opus that tells the story of the land while contemplating the devastation of Earth. Cinematographer Chang Hao-jan spent two years on location in Chihshang capturing the cultivation of rice: flooding, sprouting, harvesting and burning of the field. These video images – of clouds reflected in the water, rice swaying in the wind, and fire ravaging the fields – have become the essential visual elements of the production’s projection design by Ethan Wang. Immersed in this landscape, the formidable Cloud Gate dancers, trained in Qi Gong and Internal Martial Arts, enact a human drama parallel to the life cycle of rice.


Natalia Osipova & Guests is a triple bill of contemporary dance by three major international choreographers that showcases the prima ballerina’s incomparable talents, along with those of Sergei Polunin, Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara.

In this brand-new work, the first ever commissioned by Osipova, the multi award-winning dancer has ventured into a new realm of artistic expression; contemporary dance.

Osipova has a ballet pedigree that includes The Bolshoi, American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Ballet. She has been celebrated for her brilliant technique, vivid characterisation and electrifying energy. 

The three- programme on 24-26 March comprises work inspired by her unique abilities, by three contemporary choreographers: Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet Flanders Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Babel), the innovative Russell Maliphant and the imaginative and much sought-after Arthur Pita. In Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Qutb, Osipova is joined on stage by contemporary dancers Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara. In Russell Maliphant’s Silent Echo and Arthur Pita’s Run Mary Run, she performs with real life partner Sergei Polunin.

Sergei Polunin is currently a Principal with Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre, and the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. He made headlines in 2012 when, aged 22, he walked out of his Principal role during rehearsals at the Royal Ballet and never returned. Jason Kittelberger has performed with Eastman, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Rochester Ballet, Carolina Ballet and Hubbard Street II among other roles as choreographer and director. James O’Hara is an Australian dancer has spent a bit of time in New Zealand, performing (Babel at the 2013 Auckland Arts Festival), as a guest tutor at NZ School of Dance in 2015 and this year with Ross McCormack.

AWA is a multi-disciplinary arts spectacle weaving together stories of New Zealand’s sacred rivers and China’s famous Yellow River by the team that presented Ruaumoko in 2016. Atamira Dance Company and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (APO) will this year work with a Māori Community choir and a Chinese Community Choir alongside APO musicians, traditional Māori musicians, and dance for the world premiere of AWA on 25 March 2017.

Told through contemporary dance and music – the rhythm of kapa haka, the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and an 80-strong choir of young artists from schools and communities across Auckland

Moss Patterson, Artistic Director for Atamira Dance Company says; “The AWA project for me is about reconnecting to the natural flow in our lives and viewing the challenges that lie in front of us as an opportunity to validate our personal truths. Working across genres is exciting for me artistically, and the inclusion of our communities in the whole art experience means we can move and learn together as the work grows, ultimately unveiling a new way of seeing ourselves, and the vast potential we have as humans.”

“AWA also connects me back to my father’s journey as an engineer who passed away on the yellow river in 1996.  My Father returned home in a closed casket, and my siblings and I found it hard to say goodbye without seeing him physically in state”, says Moss.

Taking place annually in March, the Auckland Arts Festival is a globally recognised event that celebrates people and culture, and showcases the unrivalled location, cultural diversity and vibrant energy of New Zealand’s largest city. Over 1.6 million people have attended the Festivals to date.

The 2017 programme will be the final one for Artistic Director Carla van Zon.  “This year we are bringing to Tāmaki Makaurau a variety of performances and events rarely seen together in New Zealand and, in doing so, we honour some of the best artists from New Zealand and around the world. This includes those who have been in the industry for many years alongside those at the start of their journey,” says van Zon.

Auckland Arts Festival

8-26 March 2017

For the full programme go

Auckland Arts Festival 2017

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