The dance festival that David Hallberg was determined to save

“I’ve never been a ‘ballet or highway’ type. I have always been sated by seeing other forms of dance in performance, by experiencing other creative expressions in dance.

“There’s really no choice but to grow from there, seeing another dancer…whether it’s choreography or dancers, it opens up thinking about what dance can or should be. Ballet is a very specific art form, with certain aspirations. But I always found that when I found and saw performers who didn’t have a classical base, I took advantage of that, that sense of creative interpretation and expression that doesn’t always exist in the ballet world.

The festival, which will take place in three parts from the end of October, will feature nine companies (one more than last year’s unreleased iteration), including three First Nations groups: the Australian Ballet, the Australian Dance Theatre, the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Chunky Move, Karul Projects, Lucy Guerin Inc, Marrugeku, Queensland Ballet and Sydney Dance Company.

Land, by Bangarra Dance Theatre.Credit:Daniel Boud

The highlights are too numerous to list entirely: and many are the tracks that would have been seen last year. The Ballet will premiere a comic and romantic dance titled I new then, to songs by Van Morrison, by Sweden’s greatest choreographer Johan Inger. It will also premiere first light by resident choreographer Alice Topp.


Bangarra will play Ground, a breathtaking exploration of Lake Eyre; Chunky Move will present a work that explores the boundary between dance and technology; and Lucy Guerin Inc will be the first how to be usa play for two women that explores “issues of freedom”.

Hallberg and company relish the return of dance to the stage. With a successful season of Anna Karenina in Melbourne behind them they are now heading to Sydney to play it followed by Kunstkamerthe daring ‘cabinet of curiosities’ at the revered Nederlands Dans Theater (Melbourne will see it later in the year).

Hallberg himself makes a rare stage appearance for this show: he’s been retired for a few years.

“Physically I’m fine so far, knock on wood,” he said. And literally knocks on nearby wood.

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