Since the beginning, Woodford Folk Festival has been celebrating and exploring traditional music, dance and theatre unique to the immigrant cultures arriving from beyond Australia’s for two centuries. It is a place where folk music and spiritual traditions come together in unexpected ways. It not only entertains; it fosters positive relationships with other cultures through traditional music and cultural stories.
This past year has seen the vision of a multicultural and welcoming Australia come under some pressure, strengthening the festival’s resolve to showcase the international cultural arts of the traditional world residing here in Australia. The World Folklines Traditional Performing Arts Programme at the Folklorica and Hilltop stage, presents a rare glimpse into deeper, more complex ritual and social customs linked to ancient calendars and celebrations. The presentations offer a deeper understanding of the heart and soul of humanity. They give vitality and value in an increasingly materially focused world.
A rich tapestry of traditional arts and ethnic cultures, the programme takes on a cultural adventure visiting the exotic and ritual worlds of traditional dance, music and puppet theatre. Be taken away to the Middle East (Iraq, Persia, Egypt and Palestine), Asia (India, Tibet, Bali, Java, Korea), Africa (Kenya, Burundi, Sudan, Rwanda), Latin America (Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil), Europe (Gypsy Slovakia, Macedonia, Transylvania, Spain, Cyprus), Appalachia, England and the Celtic lands.
For early risers, the quieter more meditative aspects of traditional music are a great way to start the day. On two of the mornings, international festival guest Indian singer and vocal teacher Supriyo Dutta, teaches yoga breathe and movement specifically designed for singers. The morning cultural talks and stories reveal secrets of Mr Punch’s inglorious history (Keith Preston), Shakespeare’s real intentions (Dr Geoff Gunther), the hilarity of 1950’s Irish Radio Seanachaí storytelling (Irish Joe Lynch) and the beauty of wind instruments from China, Japan, the Americas, South East Asia, Hungary & Slovakia (Francis Gilfedder). Afternoon talks have an historical and mythic bent. They include, the history of flamenco (Andrew Veivers), the Irish story, The Tale of the Changeling (Irish Joe Lynch) and social history exploration Vampires, Zombies, Undead – Oh My! (Martin Pearson)
You can immerse yourself in cultures from near and far at any time of day and there is an abundance of physical expression pulsing through the festival at all times. There is something for everyone and an experience to be had like never before.
The World Folklines Traditional Performing Arts Programme is a genuine and accessible cultural experience with an eclectic mix of styles that represent a cross section of world cultures.
Here are some of this year’s festival highlights:
Continuing the festival’s on-going contacts with Himalayan tradition, aspect of Tibetan ritual life is revealed by the monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. They present ancient ceremonial harmonic chant at stages throughout the festival and construct a magical sacred sand mandala in the Mandala House. The ritual dissolution of the mandala, is an event to behold. The kindness and compassion of the symbolically represented deity; is gathered then dispersed into the world to benefit all beings. Internationally acclaimed vocalist and instrumentalist, Tenzin Choegyal sings of the mountains and the plains of Tibet;, its pain and strength. Tibetan Khaita Dancers display spectacular traditional dance in beautiful costumes.
Indian Sunset Saturday evening before sunset with eighth generation sarangi (violin) player Sangeet Mishra and sublime singer Supriyo Dutta. New Year’s Day sunrise with the Tashi Lhunpo Monks of Tibet, internationally acclaimed Tibetan vocalist and instrumentalist Tenzin Cheogyal and festival guests.
Javanese Wayang Kulit Shadow Puppet Theatre
Wayang Kulit is an ancient magical shadow puppet theatre from Central Java. The puppet characters are brought to life by the dalang (puppeteer). Meet Agustinus Jogiyono (known affectionately as Mas Yogi). He is a dalang or Indonesian shadow puppeteer and creative artist. He not only brings to us the traditional mythical story of Mahabharata, the Pandava brothers and Kurawa family, but also a contemporary slant to Wayang Kuli with stories about modern Indonesian lifestyles. He merges this creatively with the Punakawan series (Gareng, Petruk, Semar and Bagong). Mas Yogi also draws additional figures like animals and trees as well as traditional puppets, to support the storyline displayed on a white screen in the Wayang show. Traditional music accompaniment includes a gamelan ensemble, and instrumentalists Efiq Zulfiqar & Efendi Jaenudi. Find them outside at the Puppet Stage outside Folklorica
Marionettes sans Frontières
Puppetry on the edge – meet the half boy, the old man and other shadow puppet and human puppet characters. Outrageous and absurd, humorous and outspoken– with a strong message through ancient puppet forms. Curious? Come along.
Punch and Judy Shows
Meet the irreverent Mr Punch – for lunch. Keeping the spirit of squeaky swazzle-speaking Mr Punch’s comic, sentimental, silly exploits alive is Puppet Palace. They are Punch Professor Keith Preston and his musician/ accomplice, Shavian. They present the magical vintage 350-year-old madness and mayhem of a traditional Punch and Judy show. Lots of action, slapstick comedy and opportunities to shout the house down when Mr Punch gets up to his usual naughtiness and mis-adventuring. Find Mr Punch outside Folklorica Stage
Woodfordia Latin Carnivale Parade
In Latin America, the traditional pre-Easter parades in the carnival festival season feature masquerade, cross-dressing, fabulous music and sensational dancing. In this Parade are surreal characters from Carnaval de Oruro, Mexican dancers wearing sombreros plus Brazilian samba girls and Colombian dancers. Grupo Izalco musicians lead the parade from Folklorica Stage to the Dancehall, where the Latin Fiesta Dance Party begins.
Folklines Cabaret Style Concerts
The effortless chemistry of traditional and contemporary dance evokes and elevates the mix of flashy dance, dance exuberance. and classy theatre. Here are some Cabaret style concert highlights:
Latin Danza Fashionistas This year’s Latin dance floorshow spectacular is a magnificent mix of Mexican luminescence, Bolivian flair, amazing carnival costumes, and slick Latin dance.
In Retro Eurovision concert, the cultural tradition of men dressing as women is taken into the 21st century by not only Priscilla Queen of the Desert, but also The Bearded Lady of Europe.
In Khan Al Khalili Bazaar is a spectacular belly dance theatre. Beautiful dancing. Wonderful costuming and stage settings.
Tap Dance Stampede. This dance show is high energy, cheeky and heaps of fun. The performers slap, tap, clog and buck dance across the floor – showcasing Irish foot percussion, body percussion, heart stopping Appalachian clogging and show-time tap.
Bollywood Divas and Gypsy Queens. Modern Gypsy and Bollywood mingle the traditional with the modern. The music blends thrilling rhythms, and wild violins with emotional lyrics. The dancing is dazzling, high energy and beautiful.
The Middle Eastern Feast
Pre-booked Folklorica Dinner:
Welcome to the Folklorica Middle Eastern Feast. Be lavishly entertained and sumptuously dined, with true Middle Eastern hospitality, beautiful music and enjoy the Woodfordia premier of a fabulous floorshow – The Khan Al Khalili, presented by A’Diva Brisbane Bellydance Collective. Dabke dance and drumming from Palestine and throughout the Middle East by The Canaanites and Al Zayton Dabke Troupe and mesmerising and transformative Iraqi music by Sanansheel Arabic Music Ensemble. Throughout Middle Eastern history, music has been associated with the extraordinary powers of transformation, by casting an overwhelming emotional effect upon the audience. The impact continues in Arabic Tarab music today. A state of musical ecstasy awaits. Places are limited. Tickets by arrangement. Tickets are $25 per person and available at www.woodfordfolkfestival.com
There is so much more to see and do. Look to the Folklines brochure for an in-depth description of programmed events, as well as the days and times of concerts and performances already described.
If you are looking to book tickets and experience the Woodford Folk Festival for one or six days, then book your tickets online today. We look forward to seeing you out here.