Last year, Russian art collective AES+F’s giant cherubs and baby devils made a home in the Melbourne CBD and entire buildings came alive with moving projections as part of Melbourne Festival. This year will bring outdoor dance performances, city jungles that disintegrate at the slightest touch, food carts peddling Indonesian nibbles and free talks with some of the world’s most exciting artists.

We’ve picked out some of our top picks over two weeks at the Melbourne Festival, ranging from shows with fantastical effects to free roadside art.

Theatre
Brought to you by New Zealand’s national Maori theatre company Taki Rua, Michael James Manaia tells the story of a man returning from the Vietnam War and finding that he is now at odds with his country, his actions and himself. This one-man play is a New Zealand classic.

Dance
An Act of Now by Chunky Move is going to be an intimate dance performance with a difference. Due to take place in the cavernous Sydney Myer Music Bowl, audience members will be part of the performance as they sit on the stage and listen to the score on headphones, as the performance happens around them at eye-level.

Music
Swanlights from Antony and the Johnsons kicks off the musical program with what promises to be a truly theatrical experience, combining Antony’s vocals with a 44-piece orchestra, a majestic set and visual components. This performance was intended to be a one-off work at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, so don’t miss what may well be the final swansong for Swanlights.

Film
About Face revisits the original supermodels who graced the catwalks of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The film follows Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall and Isabella Rossellini and host of other ageless beauties to see where their lives have taken them since their runway heydays.

Visual Art
Abbotsford’s Schoolhouse Studios bids a final farewell in Place of Assembly, an exhibition to celebrate a site that has been home to a monastery, a schoolhouse and a place of congregation for emerging and established artists of varied backgrounds and practices. Past Schoolhouse artists will present an exhibition of works created in the building and site-specific installations will celebrate the history of the site.

Free
Also not to miss are the Ringside: Artists in Conversation series, where artists will be present in a no-holds-barred forum discussion. Book a spot and be a part of exciting discussions with world-famous artists including Michel van der Aa (After Life), Akram Khan (Desh), activist and songwriter Billy Bragg and Melbourne Festival director Brett Sheehy.

melbournefestival.com.au