From fairies to gold miners and tree dancers – around 40 performers will dazzle and delight during Queenstown’s LUMA as the festival evolves its sensory experiences.
The festival’s Performance Director and Curator Emma Vickers, says the introduction of more performance aspects will “engage the audience on another level”.
“If visitors can connect visually, emotionally and physically with live performance, it enhances the overall performance of the festival.”
She speaks from experience – her performance and production work has taken her all over the world with management jobs in prestigious events such as Splore Festival, Tuki Festival and Rhythm and Alps.
Choreographer Amber Stephens, who boasts an eclectic resume across several visual and kinetic genres from dance and choreography to film, music, painting and photography says audiences will be taken on a “magical journey”.
“We’re excited to present another dimension to experience and to include local community groups and schools,” she says.
“Expect to be surprised, to be delighted, to see the Gardens in a new perspective, to see the rose gardens in a new, fresh way; there’s a little spiritual element to it too.”
Festival Trust Chairman Duncan Forsyth agrees that LUMA is ‘upping the ante’ with performances at this year’s event, being held over Queens Birthday weekend (May 31 – June 3) in the Queenstown Gardens.
“Every year there’s something new because we’re changing and evolving, we’re upping this year’s performance levels, everything from theatre to dance, as we evolve into more of a full sensory arts festival.
“It’s like launching a new art gallery each year that’s always going to be different.”
There will be two distinct performance zones within the Gardens, bringing together visual and aural installations.
The Rose Garden area or ‘Fairy Wonderland’ will feature Millie Begley from Flame Entertainment with her fairies, Theresa Swain’s young ballerinas from the Wakatipu Conservatoire of Ballet and young contemporary dancers from Amber Stephens Dance Collective – perfect for the kids.
The ‘Forest Zone’ is a nod to Queenstown’s gold mining past and the characters who lived during that time. Dancers are set to invoke the spirit of the forest including animals and elements of land and lake.
Performances in this zone are choreographed by Amber for her own dance collective and The Remarkables Theatre Group, Chloe Loftus for her Arboreal Dancers, alongside a collaboration of Auckland’s Nocturnal group and Plant Contemporary Dance bringing multi-sensory design art.
It also features live, original music from local busker AJ Hickling and Mike Hodgson alongside a sound score including music by Paddy Free and Richard Nunns – iconic New Zealand electronic and Maori instrument sound artists.
“People need to make sure they go on a journey to all the different places, dress warm, bring children along and because there’s so much to see even plan to come on a couple of different nights. Don’t rush it,” Amber says.