[Live Review] Alice Desert Festival

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The Yeperenye ( Caterpillar) has long been the symbol of the desert to the Aboriginal people of Alice Springs and is a fitting way to open the Alice Desert Festival for 2015.  As it weaves down the Todd Mall the bright lantern is a beacon to welcome visitors from near and far to Central Australia for two weeks of performances and art.

A festival that has been on the calendar for a number of years and presented by the Red Hot Arts Foundation is an event that through the chilly winters gives locals access to music, live performance and art. It brings together locals and performers from across the country for two weeks of culture.

To open the show South Australian band Coloured Stone bring their unique sound to the stage to have all the locals up on the dance floor moving and shaking. There is not a still body in the house as the stars come out to shine.  The chilly night air is not enough to dampen the enthusiasm of the local crowd and the band put on a great opening performance. alice desert festival-17

Playing a catalogue of hits spanning decades of music the songs tell the tale of living off the land and the love the band have for the bush. Its a sound that resonates with the locals and hundreds of people have come out to see the show.

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alice desert festival-10Continuing the evenings opening entertainment are trio The Dark Party. A fusion of comedy and sideshow The Dark Party managed to be both shocking and funny at the same time. There were moments that were amazing and moments that were simply cringe- worthy. With little dialogue the show relies on music and facial expressions to convey the performance in a very unusual way. Seeing a man staple plastic flowers to various parts of his body really is not for the faint hearted and if you are a little squeamish then its best to turn away now. The show is not for everyone but it is a great performance all the same and is a lot of ( shocking) fun that leaves everyone gasping for breath at the end.

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Ludovic Dumas, a local artist based in Mututjulu has spent a year out in the desert perfecting the show  The Cosmic Joker to bring it to the stage for the first time as part of the festival. Part juggler, part magician it is a show that is both unusual and captivating. As he juggles various objects a bizarre voice over plays at intervals.

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It’s a unique experience and is a show that is reminiscent of street buskers that line the boulevard of St.Kilda Beach each summer. It’s a short piece that is full of action and has a few wonderful, albeit a little strange moments.

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If you happen to come out to Alice Springs for the festival  make sure to take a tour or hire a car to take in some of the local sights.The local landscape is rich in life and stories from the local Arrente people and the landscape is breathtaking. When there are no performances on make sure to head out to Ormiston Gorge, Simpson’s Gap or Standley Chasm for a day trip and a great chance to experience bush walks and connect with nature.

Alice Springs really is a town like no other and the MacDonnell Ranges that frame the small community hosting beautiful sunsets each night, making this the perfect back drop for the festival.  Two weeks of diverse performances have made the desert shine and the Alice Desert Festival is another jewel in the crown of the Red Centers winter festival program.


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