This year’s Melbourne Festival is a smorgasboard of sensory delights.

The 2012 event is artistic director Brett Sheehy’s last Melbourne line-up and he has laid out a lavish spread of performance, music, film and visual art.

“For my final Melbourne Festival program, I have sought to showcase the newest works from some of the finest artists I’ve been honoured to work with over the past ten years,” Sheehy said.

New and returning artists and shows have been picked out from our own shores and abroad for what will hopefully satisfy Melbourne’s cosmopolitan population.

The overarching themes for this year’s festival are ‘identity’ and ‘place’ which are worth considering when approaching shows.

The festival runs for just 17 days from Thursday October 11 but will present 18 world premieres and 33 Australian premieres.

There are 74 events to choose from but here’s our queer-inspired picks for this year’s festival.

INFO: www.melbournefestival.com.au

 

Hahn-Bin
>>MUSIC

You might be interested to know 24-year-old Hahn-Bin collaborated with both Madonna on her latest album, MDNA and the Scissor Sisters on Magic Hour this year. In the past 12 months, he also changed his name to Amadeus Leopold as an homage to the Mozart family. Both points are revealing of the Korean-American violinist and his glamorous and controversial performance style which contrasts with his unwavering dedication to classical music.

He has mesmerised crowds around the world, making his international debut at the impressive age of 12 at the Grammy Awards. Leopold has more than just flair: just hours after US President Barack Obama endorsed gay marriage in May, Leopold donned a rainbow flag as a cape following a Tchaikovsky violin concerto as blood poured from his mouth. Hahn-Bin/Amadeus Leopold performs Till Dawn Sunday on October 17 at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

 

Theesatisfaction and Big Freedia & the Divas
>> MUSIC

Self-professed lesbian feminist rappers Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White make up the soulful-psychadelic-R&B duo, Theesatisfaction. If you have not heard of them before, go online and listen to the sublime QueenS. The duo are also a couple, and as Guardian newspaper journalist Hermione Hoby noted in March, they were the feel-good act of this year’s SXSW festival.

The duo would be enough for the Melbourne Festival but organisers have paired them up with booty-shaking hip-hop transgender artist, Big Freedia (pronounced Free-da). The ‘Queen Diva’ has been credited for the rise of sissy bounce music in the US. The six-foot New Orleans MC won a MTV 0 Award this year for ‘too much ass for TV’. Just in case this event wasn’t queer enough, Grouse DJs from Melbourne’s queer night, Grouse Party will be filling in the gaps. Theesatisfaction and Big Freedia & the Divas perform on Thursday, October 18 at The Hi-Fi Melbourne.

 

A Good Man
>> FILM

A Good Man follows US choreographer Bill T. Jones, a gay, African-American and HIV-postive dance company director on his most ambitious project about Abraham Lincoln. Jones is renowned for pushing the envelope with his craft, taking on challenging topics such as race, sexuality, life and loss. The 90-minute film tracks the 60-year-old as he struggles to convey his grand idea of an original piece for Lincoln’s bicentennial to his crew.

The dance company faces the stark reality about race, equality and Lincoln’s legacy. When Jones was honoured at the Kennedy Centre Honours in 2010 for his contribution to the arts, US President Barack Obama called Jones one of the most decorated and controversial choreographers of our time. A Good Man is showing on Saturday, October 13 at ACMI at 4.30pm.

 

La Soiree
>> CABARET

“It celebrates the weird and wonderful in our society,” La Soiree creative director Brett Haylock says about his show. He’s entirely right, the company’s troupe are as bizarre as they come. Let’s start off with Le Gateau Chocolat, the man with a voice as loud and booming as his outfits. The Wau Wau Sisters return to Australian shores with their nude and acrobatic antics.

Then there’s talented David O’Mer (aka Bath Boy) who wows audiences with his seriously sexy aerial performance. There are plenty more acts on the line-up which is why La Soiree is sure to be a hoot for Melbourne this year. La Soiree is running from October 11-November 18 at the Forum Theatre.

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