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For the past seven years, the George Town Festival in Penang has highlighted and raised the awareness of the arts amongst the Malaysian community. This year’s edition, due to kick off at the end of July promises the same with a series of enticing arts programmes and fundraising initiatives.  The enticing arts festival is due to kick off on 29 July and it will once more highlight local talent as well as bring in internationally renowned artists and performers to the heritage city.

With a series of performances, shows and exhibitions planned alongside talks, forums and panel discussions helmed by co-founder of the legendary Burning Man Festival, Larry Harvey, as well as renowned Cambodian film director, Rithy Panh, the 2016 edition of the George Town Festival may well be the best yet.  Here are just some of the shows and performances you shouldn’t miss out on.

Svara Bhumi

Black Arm Band will headline Svara Bhumi; Photo © George Town Festival

Black Arm Band will headline Svara Bhumi; Photo © George Town Festival

When: 29-30 July

Fittingly, the George Town Festival chose this musical performance to kick off this year’s event. Featuring some of Asia Pacific’s best indigenous bands, Svara Bhumi (Songs of the Earth) will see acts such as Black Arm Band, Australia’s leading aboriginal band and Ria Hall from New Zealand perform at the Dewan Sri Pinang. They will also be joined by several acts from Indonesia and Malaysia, who will all display their own brand of music to mesmerise audiences. 

A+SEAN

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When: 30-31 July

Largely made of stiff plastic tubes, Strandbeests come to life through the force of the wind

Largely made of stiff plastic tubes, Strandbeests come to life through the force of the wind

This event is a two-day showcase featuring some of the best talents from Australia and Southeast Asia. Held at Padang Kota Lama at the Esplanade from 4.00 pm to midnight, it will feature a rock music concert with some of the hottest artistes from ASEAN, namely Indonesian band Nidji, Malaysian Sheila Majid, Raisa, Joe Flizzow, SonaOne, Bihzhu and Ocean of Fire. There will also be the awe-inspiring Strandbeests – created by Dutch scientist Theo Jansen – and the gigantic Australian Snuff Puppets.

Smashed

When: 27-28 August

Gandini Juggling performs Smashed; Photo © George Town Festival


Gandini Juggling performs Smashed; Photo © George Town Festival


The Gandini Juggling has taken the form of juggling and injected it with a bit of dark art and humour, resulting in inventive and often-times funny results. The well-known UK-based juggling troupe has performed over 5,000 shows in over 50 countries and this August, they are bringing their brand of entertainment to the shores of Penang. Held at the Majestic Theatre, Smashed will offer a sensational mix of circus and theatre, infusing juggling with skits from nostalgic films.

Kaash

When: 20-21 August

Kaash mixes contemporary dance with Kathak; Photo © Jean Louis Fernandez


Kaash mixes contemporary dance with Kathak; Photo © Jean Louis Fernandez


Despite being created nearly 15 years ago, the renowned performance makes its Southeast Asian premiere at the George Town Festival. The brainchild of award-winning dancer, choreographer and director, Akram Khan along with the celebrated talents of Anish Kapoor and Nitin Sawhney, Kaash will come to life on the stage at the Dewan Sri Pinang performed by a strong international cast of performers who will combine the worlds of contemporary dance and the Indian classical dance form, Kathak.

Triptyque

When: 26-27 August

Jaw-dropping acrobatics on display in Tryptique; Photo © Alexandre Galliez


Jaw-dropping acrobatics on display in Tryptique; Photo © Alexandre Galliez


Praised by critics as a perfect marriage of circus art and contemporary dance, Triptyque has been wowing audiences the world over. Led by Canadian-based Les 7 doights de la main, who have performed and lent their talents at both the Academy Awards in 2013 and the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, the critically-acclaimed performance will make its Asian premiere in Penang. Tryptique is set to deliver an awe-inspiring three-part show featuring contemporary dance moves and jaw-dropping acrobatics.