The 2020 dance and circus calendar

From major new ballets to fringe festival delights, here are some of the anticipated dance and circus highlights of the year.
The 2020 dance and circus calendar Circa's Leviathan premieres at Perth Festival in February. Photo credit: Damien Bredberg.
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Richard Watts

Wednesday 15 January, 2020

Physical feats and disciplined artistry unite the worlds of dance and circus, despite the many differences between the artforms.

In part two of our overview of the performing arts in 2020 we cast our eye over some of the dance, circus and physical theatre delights programmed across Australia in the coming months.

Please note that we cannot include everything, with some independent dance and circus companies yet to announce details of their 2020 seasons; similarly, we’ve tried to provide an overview of the many Fringe Festivals delights on offer rather than listing every single show. Rather than an exhaustive guide to the entire sector, consider this calendar a starting point for your own personal aesthetic investigations – we encourage you to look further, explore more deeply, and marvel at what you find.

Part one of our coverage, an overview of the year’s opera and classical music offerings, is already live, andin the next few days we’ll be concluding this series with a theatre and musical theatre calendar. Happy reading!

Dancers from Tasdance and Stompin at work on their first collaboration, Reactor, premiering at Mona Foma in January. Photo credit: Gabe Comerford. 


Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus – Circa: 7-22 January
Designed to entertain people from the age of three and upwards, Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus reinvents the music of Mozart in an illuminating show featuring Circa’s dexterous artists and an accordionist. After its QPAC season in January the production tours to the Glen St Theatre in NSW before heading on to Canberra, Bendigo, Shepparton, Frankston, Kalgoorlie, Karratha and other locations before its final dates in Melbourne in late October.

Kurios – Cirque du Soleil: 10 January  23 February
Step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Suddenly, the visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed, and the world is literally turned upside down. After its Brisbane season, Kurios plays Melbourne (12 March  26 April), Adelaide (29 May  7 June) and Perth (15 July  2 August).

Peepshow – Circa/QPAC: 14 to 25 January
A playfully exhilarating ride into the bizarre recesses of your mind performed by some of the finest acrobatic talent on the planet.

Time Flies – The Flying Fruit Fly Circus/Sydney Festival: 14–19 January
Forty years of the Fruities’ youthful vigour encapsulated in one show and featuring the entire ensemble performing together onstage for the first time.

Colossus – Stephanie Lake Company/Sydney Festival: 16-19 January
50 dance students from Ev & Bow, NAISDA, New Zealand School of Dance and Sydney Dance Company’s Pre-Professional Year perform this masterwork from Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake. The production also has a Perth Festival season from 19-23 February.

Karnidale – The West Australian Circus Festival: 17-19 January
A celebration of live music, circus shows, street shows and cabaret by international performers, national and local musicians and artists held in Karridale WA, three hours south of Perth.

Briefs: The Second Coming – Fringe World: 17 January – 16 February
Brisbane’s Briefs present a madcap safari of extravagant birdbath boylesque, too-close-for-comfort yo-yo tricks, high-flying circus bandits, irreverent interludes, ferocious fanfares, savage gender offenders and show-stopping drag artistes.

A Simple Space – Gravity and Other Myths: 17 January – 16 February
A return season of the intimate, playful and critically acclaimed circus work A Simple Space at Fringe World in Perth. In February the show travels to Adelaide Fringe from 14 February – 15 March, including performances at Womadelaide (6-9 March).

Reactor – Tasdance & Stompin: 18-19 January
Two of Tasmania’s most significant dance companies collaborate for the first time in a new work as part of Mona Foma.

By a Thread – One Fell Swoop Circus: 21 January – 9 February
Victorian company One Fell Swoop Circus bring their ensemble circus work By A Thread back to Perth for Fringe World. Exploring the relationship between trust and risk, performers are hoisted and swung by one another to create striking tableaux and breath-taking dynamics. Following its Perth season, By a Thread travels across to Adelaide Fringe from 14 February – 15 March.

Rainbow Families Hub Circus Oz/Midsumma: 21-25 January
Featuring family-friendly shows as part of the LGBTIQ cultural festival Midsumma, with highlights including Circus Trick Tease's Children Are Stinky and Tessa waters' How To Be a Rockstar.

Casting Off – Cluster Arts/A Good Catch Circus: 21 Jan - 2 Feb
Be ready to laugh, cry and be utterly captivated by three generations of gutsy circus women aged 31, 42 and 60. The personal is political, the furious is funny, and the acrobatics are downright dangerous.

The Rivoli – Dance Makers Collective/Sydney Festival: 22-25 January
A tribute to the rituals of social dance and the human drive toward belonging and togetherness staged in the Heritage-listed Granville Town Hall.

You & I – Casus Circus/Gasworks: 22-25 January
An intimate hour of skill celebrating the loving relationship between two men using high level acrobatics, trapeze and dance. Presented as part of Midsumma Festival. After the Melbourne run, You & I travels north for Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (22–23 February).

Speech! – SYNDICATE Performance/Fringe World: 28-30 January
SYNDICATE Performance is a performance collective made up of emerging independent dance artists based in Perth, Western Australia. Speech! explores speaking up and speaking out in public, for an audience that may or may not listen.

Grand Finale – Hofesh Schecter Company/Sydney Opera House: 29 January – 2 February
Equal parts lyrical musical performance, theatrical experience and manic celebration, Grand Finale is an electrifying post-apocalyptic tale of euphoria, surrender and doom.

Bangarra's Bennelong plays Perth Festival in February. Photo credit: Daniel Boud.


YUCK Circus – Fringe World: 1-16 February
Winners of Fringe World's top-tier Martin Sims Award and the Best Emerging Artist at Adelaide Fringe 2019, get ready to witness a powerhouse of female circus performers kick art in the face. Following their Perth season, YUCK Circus are also performing at Adelaide Fringe from 25 February – 8 March.

100 Years Of The History Of Dance As Told By One Man In 60 Minutes With An Energetic Group Finale Joseph Simons with Adam Gardnir/Fringe World: 3-16 February
Bursting at the seams with fascinating facts, naughty stories and dance moves to die for, 100 Years Of The History Of Dance As Told By One Man In 60 Minutes With An Energetic Group Finale follows schoolboy Jacob presenting a report on the topic of his own choice.

MicroMove – The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights: 4-8 February
The talents of WA's vibrant and dynamic dance artists will be showcased in a season of short works curated by renowned dancer and choreographer Rachel Arianne Ogle. MicroMove surrenders the theatre to movement and profiles the body as a site to explore time, space and self

Daddy – Joel Bray/Arts Centre Melbourne: 4-8 February
‘Sugar and kink – entwined in this production – are apt metaphors for the crash you feel after the intense physicality of this performance,’ our reviewer noted after an earlier season of this work. An immersive work from Wiradjuri artist Joel Bray, Daddy returns to Melbourne as part of the 2020 Midsumma Festival.

Railed – Head First Acrobats/Adelaide Fringe: 18 February – 15 March
A western-themed spectacular where bare chested circus meets bare knuckle bar fights, Railed combines the trademark physical talents, finely chiselled bodies and hilarious comic timing of the Head First Acrobats.

The Seen and Unseen – Asia TOPA/Arts Centre Melbourne: 20-29 February
A mesmerising convergence of contemporary Indonesian dance and physical storytelling, The Seen and Unseen is adapted by Indonesian artist Kamila Andini from her internationally acclaimed film of the same name, and is presented as part of Asia TOPA.

Bare Bones – The Farm: 21-23 February
Three days of dance, discussions, dirty feet, sandy bottoms and deep investigation into what it is to be an artist in the world today.

Metal – Asia Topa: 24-27 February
Melbourne-based dance company Lucy Guerin Inc collaborates with Ensemble Tikoro, a heavy metal choir who come direct from the underground music scene in Bandung for their first appearance outside Indonesia.

mi:wi – Taree Sansbury/QPAC: 5-8 February
mi:wi refers to the invisible ties we have to our past and future, people and country. In this dance theatre work, choreographer and performer Taree Sansbury re-connects three Indigenous women through the practice of Ngarrindjeri weaving.

GIRLKING – Samuel Harnett-Welk: 5-8 February
GIRLKING questions the role of discipline and function in dance, and expands on this question in abstracted ways. Set in an ultimate queer space, the work jumps in and out of conscious and manic deviations on ballet’s ultimate structure: the ballet barre. Presented at Temperance Hall, South Melbourne as part of Midsumma Festival in a double bill with The Venusian Slip by Harrison Hall, Harrison Ritchie-Jones, Andrew Treloar and Luigi Vescio.

Bennelong – Bangarra/Perth Festival: 6-9 February
After a triumphant national tour and seven Helpmann Awards, Bangarra Dance Theatre brings Bennelong – the story of a Senior man of the Eora who helped his community survive a clash of cultures – to Perth Festival. The production then tours to regional WA, visiting Albany (15 February) and Karratha (22 February) before heading east to Sydney Coliseum Theatre in Western Sydney, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and Dubbo.

CO_EX_EN – Thomas E.S. Kelly/QPAC: 12-15 Feb
A muscular new dance work about our past, present and future created by Queensland choreographer and Karul Projects’ Artistic Director Thomas E.S. Kelly.

Hofesh in the Yard – STRUT Dance/Perth Festival: 18 February – 1 March
Hofesh Shechter is one of the most exciting artists working in contemporary dance today; his bold and ambitious works are at once comic, bleak and beautiful. Hofesh in the Yard sees Perth’s STRUT Dance perform a double bill of the choreographer’s work danced by 12 independent artists from across the Asia-Pacific region.

Beethoven 9, Circa and Cheetham – Arts Centre Melbourne: 21-22 February
For the MSO’s Season Opening Gala, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be physically embodied by Circa, Australia’s premier contemporary circus, alongside alongside the world premiere of Deborah Cheetham AO’s Dutala (Star-Filled Sky), created in response to Beethoven’s Ninth.

Pollen Revolution – Dancehouse/Asia TOPA: 21-22 February
Heralded as the ‘Nijinsky of butoh’, Japan’s Akira Kasai brings his tour-de-force Pollen Revolution to Melbourne; a masterly work from a choreographer who is reshaping and reinventing butoh itself.

Spirit – Yellaka - Old Wisdom New Ways/Adelaide Fringe: 21 February – 1 March
Weaving together story, song, dance, fire, language and image from Kaurna country, Spirit is the latest work from Yellaka – 'Old Wisdom New Ways' (created to transfer ancient Aboriginal cultural knowledge to young people and providing opportunities to engage in cultural practice).

The Happy Prince – The Australian Ballet: 25 – 29 February
Oscar Wilde’s fairytale of a statue who gives his all to help humanity is retold in a colourful new ballet choreographed by Graeme Murphy and designed by Kim Carpenter. After its world premiere season at Brisbane’s QPAC the work goes on to play Melbourne (28 August – 5 September and Sydney (27 November – 16 December).

MÁM – Teaċ Daṁsa/Perth Festival: 26-29 February
From the makers of Swan Lake (Loch na hEala) comes this new dance-theatre work; an otherworldly journey grounded in the wilds of Ireland’s West Kerry.

A O Lang Pho – Vietnamese Bamboo Circus /Asia TOPA: 27-29 February
In my 2017 review of A O Lang Pho I called this a ‘playful, exhilarating production in which humour and skill are deftly balanced with depictions of transformation and change’. I can’t wait to see it again as part of Asia TOPA.

SVA Kranti: The Revolution Within – Footscray Community Arts Centre/Asia TOPA:  28-29 February
Dancer, storyteller and activist Mallika Sarabhai is one of the most vital figures in Indian dance today. With SVA Kranti: The Revolution Within, she employs multimedia, theatre, music and dance to conjure an imagined conversation with Mahatma Gandhi. Fiery, irreverent and provocative, Sarabhai dances with an urgency that will not be denied.

Leviathan – Circa/Perth Festival: 26 February – 1 March
One of the most keenly anticipated circus productions of the year, Leviathan sees Circa’s internationally-renowned ensemble join with a local cast of Perth circus performers, professional dancers and young people. A Perth Festival commission presented in collaboration with Co:3 Australia, Circus Maxima and CircusWA.

Between Tiny Cities – Nick Power/Perth Festival: 28 February – 4 March
United by an international dance language born in the streets of New York, Darwin’s Aaron Lim and Erak Mith from Phnom Penh demonstrate the rich choreography of Nick Power. Power’s new work, Two Crews, is also playing Adelaide Festival.

Rip Drag & Ruminate 2020 – Adelaide College of the Arts/Adelaide Fringe: 28-29 February
Rip Drag & Ruminate returns to the Adelaide Fringe, presenting short fresh works by Adelaide’s newest dance creators and performers.

Lloyd Newson's (DV8 Physical Theatre) Enter Achilles. Image via Adelaide Festival.


March Dance – Sydney: 1-31 June
A month-long celebration of Sydney’s independent dance sector, March Dance returns for its second iteration in 2020. Expect workshops, dance classes, residencies, screenings, forums, performances and more.

Chasing Smoke – Casus Circus & Cluster Arts: 3-15 March
An evocative and triumphant performance by Australia's only Indigenous contemporary circus ensemble. Following its Adelaide season, Chasing Smoke embarks on a regional tour of Victoria and NSW (1 June – 15 July).

Cabin Fever – Dianne Reid/Adelaide Fringe: 3-8 March
Originally set in a cabin in a caravan park for Adelaide Fringe 2019, Cabin Fever is now re-developed within a 1970's vintage caravan for a maximum of eight audience members.

Keir Choreographic Award: 3-7 March (VIC) and 12-14 March (NSW)
Now in its fourth edition, the Keir Choreographic Award offers eight artists the time and space to create and present a fully funded new work, engage with international perspectives and connect with new and expanding audiences for contemporary dance in Australia. Two heats are held, with the semi-finals held at Melbourne’s Dancehouse from 3-7 March and the finals at Sydney’s Carriageworks over 12-14 March.

Trois Grandes Fugues – Lyon Opera Ballet/Adelaide Festival: 6-7 March
Three remarkable choreographers, one classic piece of music. This electrifying riposte to River Phoenix’s claim ‘You can’t dance to Beethoven’ is sure to delight Adelaide Festival audiences.

The Otherworld: Elements – Olio Circus/Adelaide Fringe: 6-8 & 13-14 March
Featuring live, original and cover music by Smoke No Fire and a combination of aerials, contortion, fire and more, Adelaide company Olio Circus aim to blur the boundaries of traditional circus.

Not Today’s Yesterday – Lina Limosani and Seeta Patel/Asia TOPA: 10-13 March
An award-winning international collaboration between Australian choreographer Lina Limosani and UK Bharatanatyam artist Seeta Patel, Not Today’s Yesterday blurs the lines between dance and theatre with a poetic narrative and the beauty and disquiet of a dark fairytale. Presented in Parkdale and Bendigo (VIC).

Samsara – Asia TOPA: 5-7 March
Created and performed by international dance artists Aakash Odedra (UK/India) and Hu Shenyuan (China), Samsara merges mythological storytelling with personal experience. Inspired by the historical events recounted in Journey to the West, Samsara is an unprecedented expression of cultural exchange through the language of dance.

The Lady of the Camellias – Queensland Ballet/Shanghai Ballet: 12-14 March
In this exclusive Brisbane season, the Shanghai Ballet bring Alexandre Dumas’ 1848 romantic classic, The Lady of the Camellias, to life through lyrical dance.

Aurora - Circus Oz: 13-14 March
Fun for the whole family, Aurora is the latest creation by Circus Oz, featuring a host of loveable arctic characters performing spectacular acrobatic feats. After playing Bunjil Place the production continues to Mildura Arts Centre (21 March), Riverlinks in Shepparton (25 March) and other venues, finishing up at Sportz Central Coffs Harbour (26 April).

Retrieve Your Jeans – Cayleigh Davies and Rita Bush/Adelaide Fringe: 13-15 March
Five women, a washing line and endless blue jeans. A quirky performance co-created by a team of dance artists hailing from Adelaide, Perth and regional WA; collectively the team have multiple awards and extensive international experience.

Enter Achilles – Lloyd Newson/Adelaide Festival: 13-15 March
Exploring ‘how men, these men, police one another’s behaviour for weaknesses and deviations from what’s considered traditional masculine norms,’ this prescient and powerful physical theatre piece returns to Adelaide Festival after 24 years.

Volt – The Australian Ballet: 13-24 March
For more than a decade, British choreographer Wayne McGregor has been performing fierce and thrilling experiments on ballet. In Volt, The Australian Ballet presents two one-act works by McGregor, Chroma and Dyad 1929, alongside the 2020 work Logos by Alice Topp, resident choreographer of The Australian Ballet. The production travels to Sydney (3 – 22 April) after its original Melbourne season.

60th Anniversary Gala – Queensland Ballet: 20-28 March
A retrospective program celebrating 60 years of the Queensland Ballet performed by the company’s skilled dancers as well as international guest stars paying tribute to Queensland Ballet’s five Artistic Directors: Charles Lisner OBE, Harry Haythorne, Harold Collins MBE, François Klaus and Li Cunxin AO. 

Bonachela / Forsythe – Sydney Dance Company: 21 March  16 May
Three works celebrating the spectrum of physicality. Impermanence sees Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela join forces with The National’s Bryce Dessner, whose world premiere score will be performed live by the Australian String Quartet. William Forsythe’s N.N.N.N. is an Australian premiere from the godfather of contemporary dance. Completing the triple bill is E2 7SD, the duet that launched Bonachela’s choreographic career. The work thereafter tours to Melbourne in May.

Genesis – West Australian Ballet: 24-28 March
An experimental mini-season of short works as the West Australian Ballet’s dancers showcase their choreographic flair, skill and passion.

Supercell Festival of Contemporary Dance, Brisbane: 24 February – 1 March
Returning for its fourth iteration, Supercell aims to inspire and connect audiences and artists by presenting local, interstate and international dance artists alongside an educational and participatory workshop program.

Backbone – Gravity & Other Myths: 25 March – 19 May
Blending rich aesthetics and startling physicality, the third production by Gravity and Other Myths admirably demonstrates why the Adelaide-based company are in such high demand on the international festival circuit: put simply, they’re tremendous. The Australian tour of Backbone begins at Redland Performing Arts Centre in QLD (25 March) and travels on to NORPA, HOTA, Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre and other venues, concluding at Mandurah Performing Arts Centre in WA (19 May).

NEON: Reboot Circus Oz: 26 March – 18 April
Presented as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at The Melba Spiegeltent, and in the spirit of rad 80s sequels, NEON: Reboot amps up the ghetto blaster volume to the max for more unapologetic, glam and totally tubular circus cabaret.

Ibu-Ibu Belu – Dancehouse/Asia TOPA: 27-28 March
Following the international success of his acclaimed works Cry Jailolo, Balabala and SALT, Indonesian dancer and choreographer Eko Supriyanto returns with a new work; the culmination of two year’s research into the Likurai, a dance tradition which forms a vital thread in the social fabric of Belu in the Nusa Tenggara Timur region.

Gravity and Other Myth's Backbone tours from March through to May. Photo credit: Hamish McCormick.


THREE – Lister, Lane, Shechter – Australian Dance Collective: 1-4 April
This triple bill featuring the Australian premiere of Hofesh Shechter’s Cult marks the first time Shechter’s work will be performed for Brisbane audiences. Also featuring the world premieres of new commissions by Jack Lister and Melanie Lane, THREE marks the very first mainstage performance under the Australian Dance Collective’s new name (formerly Expressions Dance Company).

Peepshow – Circa: 18 April
Opening a national tour at Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, Circa's Peepshow then tours to Canberra Theatre Centre (22-24 April) before heading onto Healesville Memorial Hall (26 August) and HOTA (10 October).

Anna Karenina – The Australian Ballet: 30 Apr – 18 May
The centrepiece of The Australian Ballet’s 2020 season, this epic ballet features cinematic staging, Hollywood-worthy costumes and mesmerising choreography by Yuri Possokhov, formerly a principal dancer with Bolshoi Ballet and San Francisco Ballet and who has choreographed works on major companies around the world.

Krzysztof Pastor's Dracula plays at QPAC in May. Image via Queensland Ballet.


Dracula – Queensland Ballet/West Australian Ballet: 8-23 May
Based on Bram Stoker’s gothic novel, this dramatic neo-classical ballet – created by acclaimed Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor – travels to Brisbane after the success of its 2018 premiere Perth season. The dead travel fast – brand new ballets take a little longer to cross the country, it would seem. Dracula plays an encore season in Perth in September following its Queensland run.

In Perpetuity – Ivey Wawn/Arts House: 20-23 May
Choreographer Ivey Wawn asks us to find magic in the spaces between us. A gathering, an embrace, a song: In Perpetuity diagnoses the dire condition in which we find ourselves today before embarking on a radical plan of action. Co-commissioned by Arts House and Next Wave.

Possession – Marcus Whale/Arts House: 27-30 May
Possession celebrates the high drama and craft of opera via a solo performer inhabited by forces beyond human control. Aural feedback manifests physically and disembodied sounds hum, howl and screech. An unseen force slowly takes charge of the body. Co-commissioned by Arts House, Next Wave and Liquid Architecture.

Objekt is a collaboration between Australian Dance Theatre and Co:3 Australia.Photo credit: Andreas Etter.


Romeo + Juliet – Ballet BC/Sydney Opera House: 10-14 June
Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers are reimagined in this tale of romance and resistance by Olivier-nominated dance company Ballet BC in a fresh and elegant interpretation.

SandSong – Bangarra: 11 June – 11 July
Created by Bangarra Dance Theatre in consultation with Wangkatjungka/Walmajarri Elders from the Kimberley region, SandSong draws on the knowledge and memories of the past to create a new narrative for our Indigenous futures. After its Sydney premiere season the production tours to Canberra (16-18 July), Brisbane (14-22 August), Melbourne (3-12 September) and Bendigo (19-19 September).

Man with the Iron Neck – Legs on the Wall: 10-12 June
Fresh from critically acclaimed presentations in four major Australian festivals, Man With The Iron Neck is a tale of love, loss, resilience and hope brought to life by soaring aerial feats. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking this touching story is about choosing to embrace life and find hope through grief. It's 2020 tour opens at Geelong Arts Centre, after which the production tours to Newcastle (2-3 July), Griffith (9 July), NORPA (15-16 July), HOTA (24-25 July) and Wyong (29 July).

State – West Australian Ballet: 19-27 June
This triple bill features Reincarnation, a collaboration with Perth's contemporary dance company Co:3 Australia, alongside Graeme Murphy’s Air and Other Invisible Forces (1999) and Galatea and Pygmalion by Li Sze Yeung Justyne & Wong Tan Ki.

Bonachela / Lane – Sydney Dance Company: 13 June — 1 August
A touring double bill featuring Rafael Bonachela’s newest creation Impermanence (set to a score by US composer Bryce Dessner of indie rock band The National) and Melanie Lane’s critically acclaimed WOOF. Opening in Orange on 13 June, the production then travels as far afield as Cairns, Darwin and Albury before concluding in Mandurah on 1 August.

Objekt – Australian Dance Theatre: 26 June – 1 July
Bringing together two Australian contemporary dance companies, Australian Dance Theatre (ADT) and Co:3 Australia comes the Adelaide season of Objekt by Garry Stewart. Exploring the objectification of humans, Objekt commences with an unexpected vision of bodies as aestheticized objects of art, and gradually transitions to a sociological depiction of humans as objects of subjugation.

Legs on the Wall's Man with the Iron Neck tours in June and July. Photo credit: Brett Boardman.


Paris Opera Ballet – QPAC International Series: 1-19 July
Since 2009 the QPAC International Series has featured many of the world’s finest ballet companies in exclusive Brisbane seasons. This year’s guests are the Paris Opera Ballet, with the company presenting three works during their residency: Rudolf Nureyev’s Swan Lake, an Opening Gala of classical and contemporary highlights from the Paris Opera Ballet repertoire, and Parisienne Soirée, featuring unanimously acclaimed contemporary works by William Forsythe, Jerome Robbins and Crystal Pite. 

Bespoke – Queensland Ballet: 31 July – 8 August
A triple bill of contemporary works by choreographers Natalie Weir, Remi Wortmeyer and Petros Treklis that reconsiders interactions with technology, design, lighting and music to showcase Queensland Ballet in new ways.

Paris Opera Ballet: Swan Lake. Image via QPAC.


Rough Draft – Australian Dance Theatre: dates TBC
Rough Draft is an annual choreographic showcase of works in development and talks by local independent choreographers, hosted by Australian Dance Theatre. Expressions of interest are now open to present in Rough Draft in August 2020.

Sacre – Circa: 7-8 August
In the first circus setting of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, critically acclaimed contemporary circus company Circa tightly weaves together powerful world-class acrobatics and dynamic encounters suffused with dark humour and rich tenderness. After an initial season at Darwin Entertainment Centre, the production then travels to Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (27-29 August).

CADEP – Australian Dance Collective: 5-8 August
The fourth instalment of the Chinese Australian Dance Exchange Project, an ambitious collaborative program between Australian Dance Collective and some of China’s most highly-acclaimed dance companies. Film, live performance and site-specificity will create an evening of unique work, proving dance knows no boundaries.

Intertwine – Tracks Dance Company: 9 - 10 and 13 – 16 August
Intertwine looks at the human connection to the natural world as a thinking intelligent environment. Visitors know that Darwin has a Wet and a Dry Season, but locals are aware of the subtle changes over the year. For Intertwine, Tracks Dance Company will draw on rhizome philosophy, exploring the connection of any point to any other point, the Territory’s geographic location, and the seven seasons locally recognised in the Larrakia country of Darwin.

Mirage Circa: 21-22 August
The world premiere of a new Circa production, Mirage plays Monash University's Ian Potter Centre for Performing Arts in Clayton in August, followed by a short season at the Tank Arts Centre, Cairns (3-4 September).

Leviathan – DRILL/Theatre Royal: 27-29 August 
Hobart’s youth dance company DRILL engulfs the Theatre Royal’s new stage with its dance work, Leviathan. Featuring a colossal cast of 50 of Hobart’s most talented young contemporary dancers, Leviathan is an embodiment of young people’s frustrations in today’s political climate.

Harlequinade, a co-production of American Ballet Theatre and The Australian Ballet.


Double Beat – Form Dance Projects: 10-12 September
Featuring an all female Australian cast and creative team directed by Helpmann Award winner Sara Black, Double Beat at Riverside Theatres explores the aural and physical responses the heart and pulse present in differing emotional and physical states.

Harlequinade – The Australian Ballet: 11-23 September
Created by master choreographer Marius Petipa for the Tsar and Tsarina, this light-hearted romp disappeared from the stage after the 1917 Revolution. Alexei Ratmansky, former director of the Bolshoi Ballet and artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, has deeply immersed himself in the works of Petipa, producing meticulously researched revivals and breathing new life into Harlequinade. A Melbourne exclusive.

3rd Year Student Showcase – NICA: 15-19 September
Students from the National Institute of Circus Arts are put through their paces and show off their skills.

Dads Dance Makers Collective/BMEC: 16 September
Dance Makers Collective have discovered a secret underworld of dad dancing and for their new show they have asked their dads to help them create it.

In the Zone – Shaun Parker & Company: 16-19 September
Hip-hop meets gaming technology in this new work by Shaun Parker & Company. Conceived to engender emotional resilience in young people, In the Zone features captivating new technology called AirSticks, which create live sound through movement, and provides young audiences with the insight that they are much more in control of their own emotional responses than they think they are.

Girls with Altitude The Flying Fruit Fly Circus: 22-26 September
This new work from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus combines the world-class circus skills of the Fruit Flies with the animated artworks and political cartoons of acclaimed illustrator Judy Horacek. The superheroes of our immediate future are female and are changing the world.  How high can we climb when there's no glass ceiling?

Shaun Parker & Company's In the Zone. Image via Shaun Parker & Company.


Mullum Circus Festival – Spaghetti Circus: 2-4 October
Held in Mullumbimby NSW and presented by Spaghetti Circus, the festival is preceded by an industry-focused training week from 28 September – 1 October.

O, How I Dreamt Of Things Impossible – Sprung/Norpa: 22-24 Oct
Created by Sprung!! Integrated Dance Theatre, O, How I Dreamt of Things Impossible is the result of five years of collaboration between Artistic Director Michael Hennessy and the Sprung!! Dancers, and reveals the manifold nature of the creative process through a unique choreographic language rich in imagery and emotion.

Josh Mu's 'Zero' as part of SDC's New Breed 2019. Photo credit: Pedro Greig.


Sharp Short Dance 2020 – Form Dance Projects: 17-21 November
Sharp Short Dance unearths the finest young dancers from Sydney and beyond. The festival provides a rare opportunity for aspiring choreographers and dancers to display their talents in a supportive environment.

Of all things – Alison Currie: 18-24 November
In 2020, Australian Dance Theatre ADT presents Of all things, a new work from South Australian independent choreographer and performer, Alison Currie, in which she creats a tangible middle ground between the animate and inanimate, the mobile and fixed.

3rd Year Student Ensemble – NICA: 25-28 November
A showcase of the skills of the current crop of students at the National Institute of Circus Arts. Additional performances are held on 2-5 December.

New Breed – Sydney Dance Company: 26 November – 5 December
Sydney Dance Company, Carriageworks and The Balnaves Foundation continue their commitment to emerging choreographers with the seventh edition of New Breed, an annual showcase of new choreographic work. Showcasing a rich diversity of choreographic ideas, a talented group of emerging choreographers will create brand new pieces on members of Sydney Dance Company. Details to be announced.

Tutti – Circus Oz with the Geelong Symphony Orchestra: 26-28 November
A fusion of two dramatically different art forms and a celebration of the common thread between music and silence, circus and stillness, tension and release, at Geelong Arts Centre.

Flow – NORPA: 26-28 November
A new, original work created by Yaegl Bundjalung man Mitch King, a hip hop artist, dancer and teacher, Flow is a yarn about Yaegl country. It’s an urban tale of finding identity in music and hip-hop, a personal story of family pride and friendship, and an ancient story about the water that flows through this country.

Mitch King's Flow at NORPA. Photo credit: Kate Holmes.


Borderville Circus Festival – Flying Fruit Fly Circus: 9-12 December
An annual circus festival presented in Wodonga by the Flying Fruit Fly Circus and featuring guest artists and original acts.

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About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R FM, a program he has hosted since 2004.

Richard currently serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management, and is also a former Chair of Melbourne Fringe. The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, he has also served as President of the Green Room Awards Association and as a member of the Green Room's Independent Theatre panel. 

Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend in 2017. Most recently he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize for 2019.

Twitter: @richardthewatts