Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA) inaugural program launched

Malthouse Theatre Little Emperors - courtesy of Zan WimberleyFeaturing more than 60 events, over 350 international artists, 25 new commissions or premiere works with more than 15 Asia-Pacific nations represented, the full program for the inaugural Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts has been announced.

Featuring some of the most anticipated contemporary performance makers and thought leaders from the Asia-Pacific, Asia TOPA showcases Melbourne’s unique approach to integrating Asia-Pacific arts and culture through new ways of working and collaborating with a focus on intercultural commissions and innovative presenting partnerships.

A joint initiative with the Sidney Myer Fund and led by Arts Centre Melbourne, Asia TOPA will be presented by a consortium of 14 leading Southbank precinct and city-based cultural institutions together with more than 30 Australian program partners to deliver a festival-style celebration of Asian-focused performance and culture across art forms.

“Asia TOPA’s landmark collaborative programming model is a game-changer for the sector and a first for Australia,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “Uniting Melbourne’s major cultural institutions together with many small to medium enterprises in truly coordinated programming reflects Victoria’s innovative approach to creative practice and our commitment to engaging with cultural partners, artists and producers in communities across the Asia-Pacific.”

To be presented from January to April 2017, the Asia TOPA program traverses the myriad of creative disciplines from visual and digital arts, design, installation, literature, architecture, contemporary dance, ballet and music. More than 25 events, many commissioned specifically for Asia TOPA, are being presented in premiere seasons.

Highlights of the inaugural Asia TOPA program include: The Music of AR Rahman played by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with special guest AR Rahman, The National Ballet of China’s The Red Detachment of Women, Circa’s One Beautiful Thing, and festival favourite Manganiyar Classroom.

Capturing the excitement and glamour of early Indian cinema, ACMI presents Bombay Talkies – an exhibition of the recently discovered trove of cultural artefacts from the legendary Bombay Talkies film studio archives, while the Malthouse Theatre’s Little Emperors is a revelatory new play taking us deep into the lives of China’s One Child Policy generation.

The line between life and death is joyously erased in a physical work of rare intensity as South East Asia’s most exciting and acclaimed choreographer, Pichet Klunchun will take you on a up-close experience in Dancing with Death, while China’s most successful and globally sought-after avant-garde performance company, Tao Dance Theater returns to transfix Melbourne with its explorations of the human form in 6 & 8.

Curated by Gideon Obarzanek and Eisa Jocson, XO State sees artists from across the Asia-Pacific region given free reign to challenge your imagination and distort your reality. From gender-bending dance to ecstatic trance, each night will fuse different art forms to provoke, shock and seduce.

Arts Centre Melbourne CEO, Claire Spencer said the arrival of Asia TOPA comes at a time in Australian contemporary culture when we increasingly look to our place as a member of the Asia-Pacific regional community. “Cultural engagement is fundamentally a key to deepening and enriching our relationship with Asia,” said Claire.

“Artists celebrate and embrace what is unique and what is different about us and ultimately they hold a mirror up to our society. Today, more than ever, the time is ripe to be reaching out, not looking inward, and Asia TOPA enables us to enrich our view of, and connection to, the myriad cultures within our region.”

For more information and full program, visit: for details. Tickets are now on sale!

Image: Little Emperors – courtesy of Zan Wimberley