Sydney Festival brings some of its best to the west

Columbian street performers, a semi-naked vaudeville circus, poetry and funk music were some of the events announced this week for Sydney Festival’s Parramatta program.

A highlight of the program may be the much-hyped dance show by the Columbian dance troupe called Urban.

They will perform an exclusive Australian season at Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres, having arrived from sell-out seasons in London, New York and Paris.

Sydney Festival director Lieven Bertels said the show was a coup for Parramatta. ‘‘They were actually street kids in Columbia and an English promoter saw them and they said ‘We can give these kids such a better future’,’’ he said.

‘‘So they took them to England and taught them some English and trained them a little but still kept that warmness from the streets and didn’t polish it too much. It’s actually quite exciting to bring it off Broadway to Parramatta.’’

The festival will open with the free Parramatta Opening Party on Saturday, January19.

Street theatre and music will spill onto Parramatta public spaces, taking up Prince Alfred Park, ground at the Old King’s School, Church Street and the river banks around Riverside Theatres.

Other events on the program will be found in the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent in Prince Alfred Park.

The Spiegeltent will host Melbourne nine-piece funk band Saskwatch, Sydney-based singer-songwriter Leah Flanagan, Lianne LaHavas, yMusic, Norman Blake and Joe Pernice as well as the all-male circus Briefs.

The festival will close on Australia Day with a free performance by Archie Roach in the evening, followed by Australia Day celebrations. 

The Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, said the government had provided $6.3million for the festival. 

‘‘More than 30,000 people attended events in western Sydney during the 2012 festival,’’ he said.

He said about 85per cent of visitors to the 2012 festival came from outside Parramatta and the event had contributed an estimated $1.3million to the regional economy.

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