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AK05 launches Auckland as Cultural Capital

AK05 launches Auckland as New Zealand’s cultural capital this summer

Premiering some of the world’s most respected artists and showcasing some of the country’s best home-grown talent the Auckland Festival is expected to set the City of Sails alight this summer.

More than 60 events, including dozens that are free, hit town between 25 February and 13 March providing a feast of theatre, dance, visual arts and music.

Hot on the heels of AK03, Auckland’s second festival looks even bigger and brighter than the first thanks to Auckland City and principal sponsor ANZ. The line-up of international stars complements the emerging and established local artists, who together will create 17 days of festive celebration.

AK05 highlights include:

One of Australia’s leading contemporary dance companies, Bangarra Dance Theatre, presents their latest work Bush. Choreographer, Frances Rings has a talent for taking ancient aboriginal stories and setting them to a thrilling contemporary edge through dance. She recently won the award for outstanding performance in choreography at the annual Australian Dance Awards. Bush, a lush and contemporary celebration of beauty and ritual and will be performed at the Aotea Centre, THE EDGE® for 5 nights only.

Also from Australia is the tragicomic tale of Anglo-Irish artist Francis Bacon’s life. Three Furies, presented at SKYCITY Theatre features some of Australia’s finest actors. It is written by Stephen Sewell, directed by Jim Sharman and designed by Brian Thomson.

After the hit HBO television series, Russell Simon’s 2003 Tony Award winning Def Poetry Jam ( Best Special Theatre Event), comes to St James Theatre straight from a successful Broadway season. This show, which sees eight young poets rap on stage about everything from love, sex and domestic violence to McDonald’s and George W. Bush, has become a world phenomenon and should not be missed.

Michael Parmenter premieres his retrospective work, Commotion, and is joined by 18 of the country’s top dancers to celebrate his career, spanning more than 20 years.

The NBR New Zealand Opera and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra perform, for the first time, John Adam’s compelling contemporary American opera – The Death of Klinghoffer, starring some of New Zealand’s finest opera talent, and led by esteemed American conductor, Mark Stringer.

Wielding sticks as they bound through the air with astonishing speed and power are Japan’s Tao Drummers, whose percussion and drumming is a stunning combination of traditional Taiko drumming and contemporary showmanship.

A treat for music lovers and peace-niks is world-famous US bass Kevin Maynor who performs three unique recitals at Holy Trinity Cathedral where he sings the speeches of 20th century freedom fighters Malcolm X, Paul Robeson and Ghandi.

New theatre works; A Clockwork Orange, and The Scentless Apprentice premier at The Silo Theatre. Kirk Torrance’s Strata is performed at the Herald Theatre and Niu Sila debuts in Auckland at Maidment Theatre.

Art galleries throughout the city are hosting exciting exhibitions. The largest is the Auckland Art Gallery’s Mixed-Up Childhood, a provocative look at the way children are portrayed in art. This is a rare collection of some of the world’s most renowned international artists. Estonian art groups Pink Punk and Avangard showcase their edgy works at Gus Fisher Gallery, which has many interesting facets to it, including A Hot Art Chat Line where you can phone an 0800 number to find out “everything you ever wanted to know about art but were afraid to ask.”

Parts of the city’s landscape will change during the festival, some permanent- such as eight new sculptures installed at the Auckland Domain and some less permanent, including covering a Britomart structure with love letters.

There will be constant entertainment happening at The Edge’s Aotea Square, the Festival hub, with a strong focus on free and family events including two free music weekends when leading New Zealand musicians taking to the stage.

If you’re a night owl, you can catch your tunes at the Festival Club, The Wintergarden, The Civic, which is open late every night during the festival.

Festival director David Malacari says AK05 will expose Auckland to a diversity of work it has never seen before.

“The festival’s programme will stimulate audiences and artists and help recognize Auckland as a major cultural capital in the Pacific.”

“There is no good. There is no bad. There is only what you like and what you don’t you don’t like, and part of the adventure is talking about why,” says Malacari.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said: “It is through exhibitions, shows, and festivals like AK05 that we can profile our arts and culture and see the best of what the international circuit has to offer.”

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