Taylor Mac & eight other reasons Melbourne Festival is huge

  • Jul 25, 2017

Melbourne Festival’s 2017 line-up has landed and holy hell, it’s a good one.

This year’s spectacular line-up of dance, theatre, contemporary and classical music, visual arts and free events and will see more than 65 events taking over Melbourne across 19 days in October.

Taylor Mac. Photo: Supplied

Taylor Mac. Photo: Supplied

Yes, 65 events! Holy Moly!

First up, we need to talk about Taylor Mac.

Described by Melbourne Festival Artistic Director, Jonathan Holloway as “one of the most incredible performers in the world”, Mac’s mission is to chart a complete social history of a nation through the music.

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music is a once in a lifetime event from the glittering New York performance artist, which will be the centrepiece of the festival.

Go on a journey  through America from 1776 to 2016, told through the songs of the time – reinterpreted through a radical queer lens, naturally.

The stories represent the perspective of groups whose stories are often forgotten, dismissed, or buried.

“Taylor is the most charismatic and brilliant performer, who is talking about inclusiveness at a time when we need it more than ever,” Hollway says.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience has never been seen outside the US and is co-commissioned by and exclusive to Melbourne Festival.

The performance has been broken down into four nights, and make no mistake, tickets are limited! More information here.

After that, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to cram in anything else at the Festival, but don’t worry we’ve compiled this list to get you started.

Tree of Codes

Tree of codes is an extraordinary dance event you won’t want to miss.

It’s a collaboration between choreographer Wayne McGregor, visual artist Olafur Eliasson, musician Jamie xx and the Paris Opera Ballet.

With only six performances at the State Theatre, you better get in quick! More information here.

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

The Magnetic Fields 50 Song Memoir

The mind behind the inimitable American indie pop band The Magnetic Fields, Stephin Merritt has created a brand new set to celebrate his 50th birthday.

This performance features a song for each year of his melodious existence.

Exclusive to Melbourne Festival, this live kaleidoscopic journey will see him singing each song from his 50 Song Memoir. More information here.

Mette Ingvartsen’s 7 Pleasures

Danish choreographer and dancer Mette Ingvartsen’s 7 Pleasures has its Aussie premiere at the festival.

It’s a work that investigates the seven roles of pleasure and explores how perceptions of nudity and sexuality have changed over time.

Incorporating 12 dancers – wearing nothing but what nature gave them – join to form a single organism of ecstatic flesh. Wowee. More information here.

7 pleasures. Photo: Supplied

7 pleasures. Photo: Supplied

Under Siege

Renowned choreographer and dancer Yang Liping presents this epic tale known in Chinese opera and lore as Farewell My Concubine.

It’s a high-octane mix of performers from ballet, hip-hop, kung-fu and Peking opera.

The production is designed by Academy and BAFT award-winning set and costume designer Tim Yip. More information here.

Bangsokol: A Requiem For Cambodia 

This incredible new work spanning song, film, dance and voice is the first orchestral performance that address the traumas that occurred in Cambodia.

It marks a first time collaboration between Oscar-nominated film director Rithy Panh and lauded composer Him Sophy.

The two are survivors of the Khmer Rouge and now at the forefront of Cambodia’s cultural renaissance.

More information here.

Black Rider: The Casting Of The Magic Bullets

When it premiered in 1990, Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs’ cult musical fable The Black Rider instantly declared itself as an important piece of contemporary avant garde theatre.

It’s definitely worth a look at this year’s festival with an enviable line-up of Australia’s most cherished ‘enfants terribles’.

Paul Capsis, Meow Meow and Kanen Breen will all take to the stage.

Get set for a delirious journey through a vivid theatrical landscape that is part gothic, part opera, and all dance with the devil.

More information here.

Alexis Taylor

Another Australian exclusive, this time from the frontman of electropop royalty Hot Chip! But the synths have been put to the side, and in it’s place stripped back versions of Hot Chip songs and other original works.

Taylor will be playing a sensitive and soulful session on the keys in Melbourne Recital Centre’s intimate Salon. More information here.

Alexis Taylor. Photo: Supplied

Alexis Taylor. Photo: Supplied


French artists Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort from L’Amicale De Production are turning the theory of evolution on its head.

Germinal is one of the most talked-about works of contemporary international theatre, Germinal.

From light to thought to the laws of physics, four intrepid performers step into the void and build the universe from scratch in a work whose scope couldn’t be wider.

Absurd, inventive and driven by a mischievous sense of play, this is theatre that tears up its own foundations to get to the bottom of existence. Cool, huh?!

More information here

About Melbourne Festival

Melbourne Festival Artistic Director, Jonathan Holloway said this year’s festival was a “collaboration without compromise”.

“We have searched the world for the most courageous, visionary and ambitious artists,” Holloway said.

“Artists who are actively taking on the biggest subjects with flair, excitement and drive.

“We have drawn together as many of them as possible to create a blockbuster that attempts to remind us all what humankind is capable of.”