Auckland Arts Festival springs back to life


The Auckland Arts Festival 2024 lineup aims to impress New Zealanders (Image Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, November 17, 2023

The Auckland Arts Festival will spring back to life from March 7 to March 24, 2024 with more than 60 events and 200 people presenting unforgettable experiences.

The programme travels the world with works that represent New Zealand, Ngā Toi Māori, Toi Pasifika, two major African headliners, the Festival’s first Inuit work, a trio of Irish works, Australian guests, including a leading Aboriginal didgeridoo player and Tim Minchin, and a stunning work of solidarity created in collaboration with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand’s Muslim Community.

Interactive line dancing, a mass sing-along, and a free, all-welcome drumming event (Bring your own bucket) round off the programme which offers something for everyone, no matter their age.

Resonance as the central theme

Artistic Director Shona McCullah said that Resonance is the theme of the Festival.

“We deliver this through many stunning performances and participatory experiences, exploring how sounds, words and movement create ripples and repercussions and connect with us socially, emotionally, intellectually, and culturally. Arts, culture and creativity benefit everybody and we guarantee that something in our programme will resonate with every single person in Auckland.

“Some of our guests are artists with important messages like Free Ukraine, disability awareness, women’s rights, racial discrimination, and children’s rights are among them. Having a platform to deliver such impactful statements through the most exquisite, compelling, and uplifting performances is an opportunity we cherish. Alongside that, we also spread joy throughout the city with a huge number of free performances, and several opportunities to participate in some mass events to celebrate the rhythm of life at this Festival,” she said.

Afrique En Cirque will showcase life in Guinea and the artistry of African culture (Image Supplied)

Come and Sing Along

It would not truly be Auckland Arts Festival without a free, all-welcome, opening sing-along and the 2024 event, Waiata Mai, will elevate this crowd favourite.

Kiwi classics and waiata reo Māori come together in an event that will connect and transform those gathered in Aotea Square into a rousing choir.

‘Street Beats’ will incorporate a series of pop-up performances in the CBD and regions, including The Biggest Little Circus, musicians and DJs on street corners, and French acrobats on seven-metre poles, RoZéO.  The travelling baby grand piano, Undergrand, which will pop up in many unexpected places, adds to the free festival excitement.

Best from around the World

Afrique en Cirque, a breathtaking circus by Yamoussa Bangoura (Cirque Éloize), is inspired by daily life in Guinea. Its vibrant energy speaks to the beauty, youth, and artistry of African culture.

The acrobats’ gravity-defying feats, astounding stunts, and knee-slapping comedy are accompanied by the contemporary sounds of Afro-Jazz and percussion, including the breath-taking African kora.

From Africa to Korea, ‘Dragons’ will celebrate the Year of the Dragon in a lavish reboot of traditional Korean dance combined with street dance, by pioneering choreographer and dance icon, Eun-Me Ahn. While dragons might be feared in the West, in Asia they represent lightness, joy, and optimism.

Following an acclaimed off-Broadway run, a sold-out world tour, and a New York Times Critic’s Pick award, illusionist and performance artist Scott Silven will make his New Zealand debut at the Festival with ‘Wonders, a journey through the magic, myths, and mystery’ of Mr Silven’s Scottish home with breath-taking story-telling illusions.

Five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo, one of the greatest artists in international music today, will be in Auckland to perform one show only at the Festival with invited guests Angitu Kapa Haka, with its star performer Pere Wihongi.

Other Highlights

In the great Festival tradition of ‘Respect, Love Me As I Am’ and Tōkū Reo Waiata, the Festival’s International Women’s Day ensemble concert, ‘Hear Me Roar’ will celebrate the songs, splendour, and stage presence of powerhouse wāhine vocalists and musicians whose works have impacted the careers of Aotearoa superstars  Betty-Anne Monga, Annie Crummer, Julia Deans and Boh Runga.

The world-renowned Taiwanese Ju Percussion Group will also perform in New Zealand for the first time. The 13-strong supergroup’s innovative and virtuoso technique delivers a sound that is contemporary, theatrical, and utterly irresistible.

Symphonic expression

To mark the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque Attacks, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will present a unique collaboration, Beyond Words.

Conducted by Fawzi Haimor and featuring powerful Moroccan vocalist Oum and Greek oud virtuoso Kyriakos Tapakis, John Pasthas’ Ahlan Wa Sahlan, is titled with an Arabic greeting that lets people know they are in a place where they belong.

Composed in collaboration with Oum, Tapiakis, and consultation with members of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Muslim Community, Beyond Words is a profound vocal and symphonic expression of solidarity and peace.

The double Grammy-winning The King’s Singers will return to the Festival for an evening of a cappella and inspiration at Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

To close off the huge number of Festival events, global all-star break-dancers ILL-Abilities (Korea, Canada, and the USA) will wow the Aotea Square crowd with their inspirational stories, dancing and DJ beats of triumph over adversity, followed by AAF’s first international Street dance and DJ competition, Skillz Central.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.


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