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Asia TOPA returns!

10 Dec 2019

Asia TOPA returns! Image

By Aphrodite Feros-Fooke

Asia TOPA (Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts) is returning to Melbourne in 2020.

From January to March the festival will present a collection of multi-form artworks from the Asia–Pacific region to Melbourne audiences as well as facilitating intercultural collaborations.

The program includes 54 works spanning music, dance, theatre, contemporary performance, film, digital, visual art and public talks, with 30 of these works newly commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne and Asia TOPA. This is the second iteration of the festival after it was founded in 2017 as a joint initiative of the Sidney Myer Fund and the Arts Centre.

Over the three-month festival, works are presented across various local venues including ArtPlay, Arts Centre Melbourne, Australian Centre Contemporary Art (ACCA), Federation Square, Immigration Museum, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Recital Centre, MPavilion, National Gallery Victoria (NGV), Sidney Myer Music Bowl, SIGNAL and Union House Theatre.

World premiere shows include Metal, by Lucy Guerin Inc and Ensemble Tikoro (Feb 24-27). The contemporary dance work was created in Melbourne and Indonesia and features heavy metal music and traditional throat singing, too, in a meeting of cultures, art forms languages and belief systems.

Samsara (March 5-7), another world premiere, is a dance work merging the histories, philosophies and cultures of China and India and brings together international dance artists Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan.

Both performances will show at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Dancehouse will host a range of Japanese focused works including Pollen Revolution (February 21-22), a mix of classical Japanese dance, hip-hop and butoh by Japanese butoh legend Akira Kasai and performed by his son, Mitsutake Kasai.

A O Làng Pho (February 27-29) translates to “from village to city”’ and combines acrobatics, circus and storytelling. The Vietnamese bamboo circus is directed by Cirque du Soleil choreographer Tuan Le.

All are welcome to join the Chinese Square Dancers at Melbourne Museum (daily at 9am from February 24-28) for a combination of dance and exercise.

The program also includes a range of theatre and contemporary performance works such as Oedipus Schmoedipus, (March 18-28), a show about death – real, fake and as portrayed by the theatre classics. Four shows will be performed in English and four in Cantonese at Union House Theatre, University of Melbourne. Performances will include 25 local volunteers, with volunteer callouts beginning this month.

The Mysterious Lai Teck (March 4-7) will be shown at the Victorian Collage of the Arts (VCA). Lai Teck was the leader of the Malayan Communist Party from 1939 to 1947, however after his death it was discovered he worked for the French, British and Japanese secret police. Created by Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen it will be performed in Mandarin with English subtitles.

The music program includes a return of the ASIA POP FEST at Sidney Myer Music Bowl (March 13), featuring K-pop, C-pop and South East Asian stars.

Sufi singer and female pioneer, Abida Parveen will perform at Hamer Hall (February 29). The Pakistani spiritual singer specialises in two forms of Sufi poetry – Ghazals and Kafis.

Following on from four sold-out shows in 2018, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) will be returning with Music from the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayo Miyazaki, conducted by composer-conductor Joe Hisaishi.

Another MSO feature 

Chinese conductor Yi Zhang, conductor of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is making his MSO debut for the Chinese New Year Concert (January 31) at Arts Centre Melbourne with works by composers Wanghua Chu and Jingjun Yu.

SIGNAL will host a night of Indonesian-Australian musicians with the release of Komang Rosie Clynes’s EP Mythologies (February 28).

As part of the visual art program, NGV International exhibits Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat (until April 19) and Turning Points: Contemporary Photography From China (January 27).

The MPavilion will also host free lunchtime talks and performances every Wednesday to Sunday (February 19 to March 15 2020) as part of the public program.

For the full program visit

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