Top Picks at the 2015 Sydney Festival

SF_The KitchenAs the dust settles on another New Year’s celebration, and with Summer in full-swing, the Sydney Festival returns to many favourite destinations across Sydney, Parramatta and beyond. Comprising a staggering 179 events over 19 days, expect a spectacular program of free and ticketed events spanning contemporary and classical music, theatre, dance, visual arts and much more.

Arts Review takes a look at ten events worth checking out!

Disco Dome
Information and Cultural Exchange, Parramatta: 9 – 24 January
Casting its glitter eye on the times and tensions when Australia was moving from Anglo monoculture  to multi-cultural haven, take a trip through the streets, culture and history of the lost discotheques of Parramatta with Disco Dome. This immersive, after-dark walking tour and dance event revisits Parramatta nightlife (1978-1995), combining music, contemporary art, live performance, architectural tours and talks, community reminiscence, food and cocktails.

Festival Village
Hyde Park: 8 – 25 January
The Festival Village once again takes its place in the heart of the city at Hyde Park. An oasis of arts, eats, beats and other treats, it’s the perfect pre-show or post-show hang-out. With a mix of free and ticketed events, check out The Famous Spiegeltent, The Aurora Spiegeltent, a week of family shows and street artist Maser’s giant art installation Higher Ground. Performances include The Wau Wau Sisters, Yana Alana, Blak Cabaret, and dirty & dangerous circus cabaret, LIMBO.

Inside There Falls
Carriageworks: 8 – 17 January
An installation in the form of a shimmering labyrinth, Inside There Falls invites audiences to individually explore and seek out its secrets. From hidden pathways made of paper, voices emanate from all around and the entwinements of a pair of illusive and elusive dancers may be glimpsed. In this astonishing creation from UK-based artist Mira Calix, the walls literally speak – music, voice and dance converge into a profound and fully immersive experience.

The Long Pigs
Seymour Centre: 15 – 18 January
There’s something not quite right about the clowns in The Long Pigs. Their noses are black, their outfits are grubby, and there’s something sinister about the goings-on in their dimly lit factory. How did they acquire that suspicious-looking crop of red noses? Owing as much to Samuel Beckett and George Orwell as The Three Stooges, The Long Pigs is a black comedy with a grim and gruesome twist.

Nothing to Lose
Carriageworks: 21 – 25 January
In her final work as Force Majeure’s artistic director, Kate Champion collaborates with artist and fat activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater to celebrate the sculptural splendour of the fat dancing body. Unseen, unexpected and unapologetic, this new work abandons stereotypes and reshapes expectations.

Sydney Opera House: 7 – 17 January
In a wondrous world of riddles and hidden treasure, bumbling Jack Hare is on a race against time to deliver a message of love from the Moon to the Sun. Masquerade brings to splendorous life Kit Williams’ much-loved children’s book and the beautiful story of a small boy with enormous courage.

Riverside Theatres, Parramatta: 21 – 25 January
For centuries we have used dance to connect, seduce and play – from the masked ball to the mosh pit. Puncture embraces the risk and ritual of intimacy on a dance floor. Watching bodies moving in rhythm, you are guided from the restraint and formality of classical dance through the sensuality of the tango, to the rebellion of youth and the freedom of dance.

Sydney Buddha
Carriageworks: 9 – 26 January
Created with 20 tonnes of incense ash and standing at over five metres tall, Sydney Buddha is a meditation on the brevity of life and the cycles of renewal and destruction. Made of two parts: an aluminium sculpture and an ash casting of its interior, the works are installed facing each other; however, as time passes, one of them is destroyed. For over two decades internationally renowned artist Zhang Huan has examined contemporary life through an engagement with the traditions and rituals central to Buddhist, Chinese and Tibetan histories.

Tabac Rouge
Sydney Theatre: 7 – 23 January
One of the world’s greatest circus performers, James Thierrée presents an opium hallucination on a breathtaking scale. A vibrant carnival of circus, dance and theatre that builds to an unforgettable climax, Tabac Rouge is an assault of stunning imagery, ideas and atmospherics. It evokes everything from Alice in Wonderland and King Lear to Hieronymus Bosch.

The Kitchen
Seymour Centre: 22 – 25 January
A show about the healing power of cooking, The Kitchen is a sumptuous, multi-sensory spectacle of arresting sights, smells and sounds, culminating in something for your tastebuds too. As a couple prepares payasam – a traditional Indian dessert, letting the fragrant aromas waft over you, 12 drummers provide a vigorous soundtrack on copper mizhavu drums. As this trance-inducing meditation reaches an intoxicating boiling point, it’s your turn to take part in the performance.

The 2015 Sydney Festival runs 8 – 26 January. For more information and complete program, visit: for details.

Image: The Kitchen – photo by KR Vinayan