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Auckland Arts Festival 2020

For the first time in three years, Auckland Domain will be lit up with a large scale event for the Auckland Arts Festival.

The festival runs from March 11-29 and includes the outdoor, aerial spectacular, Place des Anges, by French company Gratte Ciel and promises “a sky filled with angels, acrobatics and dreamlike images”.

Around 40 music, theatre, dance, cabaret, circus and visual arts shows make up the AAF 2020 programme.

Last year, the AAF introduced the Toitu Te Reo programme strand as a commitment to the normalisation of te reo Maori. Toitu Te Reo continues in 2020. Te reo Maori will be heard and seen every day of the festival.

Hollie Smith, Hatea Kapa Haka and choirs from around Auckland will lead the crowd in a concert featuring Smith's hit Bathe In The River, and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody sung in te reo Maori. The Toitu Te Reo programme also features the world premiere of creative collaboration that combines live performance and soundscapes, Ka Po, Ka Waiata — Songs of Darkness created by artists Tama Waipara, Teina Moetara, Warren Maxwell, Whirimako Black, Horomona Horo and Waimihi Hotere.

The festival also shines a spotlight on dance: Black Grace celebrates its 25th anniversary with a 10-venue tour of Verses. Then there is the decadent pick of the festival — Ballet Preljocaj's Snow White masterminded by acclaimed French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj with costumes by fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier.

Set in a hotel room in Auckland, Wiradjuri dancer and performer Joel Bray's immersive encounter Biladurang is described as ranging from the grand to the intimate.

For theatre-goers, there is the top pick for AAF 2020 — Barry McGovern in a stage adaption of Samuel Beckett's novel, Watt, which sits comfortable in the Theatre of the Absurd canon.

Direct from Belgium, Cold Blood unfolds in miniature, and on the tips of performers' fingers, while filmed and projected live to transport the audience to miniature worlds where the fingers do the walking.

Auckland Theatre Company's Black Lover will have its world premiere at the AAF, while Silo Theatre's first production for 2020, UPU, brings Pacific literature to roaring theatrical life.

Curated by award-winning poet Grace Taylor and led by powerhouse director Fasitua Amosa, UPU presents the stage to Oceania poets Ben Brown, Karol Mila, Albert Wendt and more.

The festival is drenched in music — New Zealand composer Eve de Castro-Robinson considers the future of our next generation in her newest concerto, Clarion. The work features Bede Williams on trumpet and putatara (conch shell).

Research shows that an understanding of our warming climate can be seen in the carbon being layered in the growth of the conch shell.

This outline barely scratches the surface. For the full programme, go to www.aucklandfestival.co.nz.

COLD BLOOD: The fingers do the walking in Belgian production, Cold Blood, one of more than 40 music, theatre, dance, cabaret, circus and visual arts shows that make up the Auckland Arts Festival 2020 programme. Picture by Julien Lambert