Much of the last week I had the pleasure of spending in Adelaide to consume the final weekend of the fringe. Few things tickle my fancy as much as cultural events and activities, which have been a constant in my life for many years. I flew down to Adelaide specifically to see Akram Khan do his final performances in a full length dance piece, called Xenos, one of the highlights of Adelaide Festival.
One of the joys of touring, which is supported by cultural activities and interests, is that you have time to participate in activities which you might not factor into your every day where you live. I went on a walk through Veale Gardens in Adelaide in the late afternoon. The light caught the leaves in a seductive manner and it made me exceptionally grateful to be able to travel and work. I caught sunset walking back through the park later that evening (the sunsets in Adelaide are quite delicious most nights).
I had the pleasure of spending time with both Penelope Dreadful, Clover Hart and Abi D’Winters in Adelaide. Lingerie was photographed in (as I said on my Twitter, I believe teal is my new colour), wine was consumed and revelry was had.
I wrapped up this joyous occasion by going to Shiki at the Intercontinental. This was my first time having teppanyaki and I was rather taken by it. It has great theatrical elements, as you watch the slicing, dicing, sauce pouring from great heights and occasional huge fire. This was contained in a very 90s style restaurant where everything was either beige, copper or wood. Very dated. Great food.
I started seeing shows. I am a lover of musical theatre, my favourite musical as a child was Grease and I went to a drag comedy show in which two queens renditioned numbers form Annie, The Sound of Music, The Bodyguard, Grease to name a few… They called everyone onstage for a dance. It was really extraordinarily fun and wonderful. After this I wandered around Gluttony and The Garden of Uneartly Delights, imbibing the nightlife, dancing in the joyous atmosphere.
The weekend is for brunch, lounging and seeing art. I started the afternoon with a poached barramundi coconut curry.
Subsequently I headed to ACE Open to see the contemporary Islamic art show, Eleven- Waqt al-tagheer: Time of Change. The work was hugely thought provoking, some of my favourite being the art of Abdul Abdullah who created Islamic wedding photographs with subjects in balaclavas and Hoda Afshar Westoxicated series who photographed and manipulated images of herself in parodies wearing Minnie Mouse ears and looking at the dual nature of Islamic women in the Western world where they are seen as both conservative and also lingerie wearing, just like us women.
This was followed by continuing to see work at the biannual Adelaide art exhibition in the Art Gallery of South Australia. This years theme was Divided Worlds and the art varied in tone and subject matter dramatically. My highlights were the Pip + Pop installation and Amos Gerhbert’s four channel video installation.
Quick pit top to try some ice cream, made directly in front of you on a cold plate. I am not someone who enjoys sweet things, I always prefer a cheese to a desert, but the theatre of the making of this was too wonderful to not sample (great marketing there). The milk is cooled on the cold plate and then fresh strawberries or Oreos or whatever you want is cut up into the milk and turned into ice-cream scrolls for you.
Next up Akram Khan, the reason I had flown to Adelaide. I have been a consumer of Khan’s dance for over 10 years as I frequented Saddler’s Wells in London to see his and many other contemporary choreographers works. His work has such breath and accessibility that he has remained my favourite choreographer since I saw his first work. There is something incredibly mesmerising about Kathuk dancing, with flashes of dervish whirling which work well with the narrative telling of Khan’s works. Xenos had hugely powerful and saddening content, the dance was investigating and exploring the plight of Indian soldiers in WWI. 1.5 million Indians died fighting for the Empire at that time and when those who did return, were reunited in India there was a huge nationalistic push which lead them to feel marginalised. Khan’s choice for this as his final piece points towards his understanding of the complexities of nationalism, colonialisation and identity. The work itself had an ominous band and a brilliant set and Khan’s dancing was triumphantly emotive, angular and fierce.
This was followed up directly by Human Requium, an immersive choral piece. The opening was simply magnificent with the singers being in the audience and singing all around you, as the entire audience was standing up in a large warehouse space. The singers walked around and hearing the individual voices was mesmerising. Also the singers swung on large swings and hearing their voices move in and out in this manner was unusual and fun
Sunday, the day of rest is actually my busiest working day. I presume some people’s response would be ‘no rest for the wicked’. A vegetarian brunch was had. The day whiled away into the evening and I enjoyed Indian food during sunset.
Adelaide you are wonderful, I will be back shortly.