Spring Dance headlined by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

This year’s Spring Dance festival at the Sydney Opera House will open with the Australian premiere of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Dunas, a piece he choreographed with the flamenco dancer, María Pagés.

Inspired by the undulating landscape of sand dunes, it had its world premiere in Madrid in 2009.

This will be Sidi Larbi’s third visit to Australia, following Zero Degrees, in which he danced with Akram Khan and Sutra, his collaboration with Shaolin martial-artist monks. His work, Babel, was also part of this year’s Sydney Festival although Sidi Larbi himself did not come to Australia for that season.

Last time I spoke to him he was researching the tango in Argentina. The result will be seen in his new production of Carmen, for the Paris Opera Ballet in May next year.

Also in Spring Dance, curated by Sydney Dance Company’s artistic director, Rafael Bonachela, is more from South America, two works by French choreographer Mourad Merzouki danced by his troupe of dancers from Rio de Janeiro. Their double bill, Agwa and Correria, is a fusion of hip hop, capoeira and samba.

In another Australian debut, Beijing’s TAO Dance Theatre will present Weight x 3 and 2, danced to the music of Steve Reich.

Spring Dance will showcase the work of four female choreographers: Dream Lucid by Stephanie Lake, Fanatic, by Larissa McGowan, Desire, by Lisa Wilson, and yield, by Sydney Dance Company’s Emily Amisano.

Also celebrating home-grown talent will be Clouds Above Berlin choreographed and performed by Antony Hamilton and Melanie Lane; and iOU dance solo series which will showcase the best of Sydney’s independent dance scene.

On site events include a free outdoor ballet class led by the Australian Ballet’s artistic director, David McAllister, a jazz class taught by Rafael Bonachela and Ramon Doringo, a screening of Nureyev and Helpmann’ 1973 film of Don Quixote, danced by the Australian Ballet and the film Never Stand Still, a tribute to the Jacob’s Pillow dance festival in Massachusetts and its beginnings under the direction of choreographer Ted Shawn.

The documentary also shows works by Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, Bill Irwin, Judith Jamison and Nikolai HĂĽbbe.

The festival season is from 20 August – 2 September.

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Dunas, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and María Pagés, photo © Ralph Burkart

Mourad Merzouki’s Agwa, photo © Michel Cavalca