WOMADelaide 2023 opens day one with a bang

Bangarra Dance Theatre

After a couple of smaller WOMAD festivals during the COVID pandemic, this year, WOMADelaide is back at full steam and the sold out crowd appreciated it. The mood in the air was one of jubilation and celebration.

There is just so much to see and do that it is impossible to see it all. Decisions have to be made. Bangarra Dance Theatre or Billy Bragg? Bon Iver or Jyoty? The best thing is, that no matter where you are in the event, there will be something interesting and captivating to take in.

Late in the afternoon, AURORA on stage 2 bears the brunt of the harsh afternoon sun with good humour. Even if she becomes burnt like bacon, she ignores this minor inconvenience and impishly and playfully entertains the audience of mainly young girls. She throws her heart and soul into the performance and captivates the crowd. Meanwhile, near the back of the crowd, Compagnie Didier, from Montpellier, do interpretive dance to AURORA’s music whilst dressed in pink inflatable suits. Surprisingly graceful and funny simultaneously.

The smaller stages have some hidden gems as well. Constantinople, led by Belgian-Tunisian singer Ghalia Benali are also playful and captivating. The Ripple Effect Band from Maningrida in Arnhem Land, sing fascinating songs from their culture and heritage with contagious energy that has the crowd dancing.

Folk musician Grace Cummings has an adoring crowd at the zoo stage and is clearly enjoying sharing her music. Cimafunnk over at the Foundation stage bought their infectious high energy dance music to the stage, which had the crowd jumping.

The highlight is French troupe Gratte Ciel feathered angels performance. From atop cranes high in the sky, the angels fly, soar, walk and dance along wires strung high above. Feathers shower down on the audience as oohs and ahhs are heard from every corner of the arena. Something that cannot be fully described and has to be seen to be believed.

The Bangarra Dance Theatre are no strangers to WOMADelaide, and were fascinating to watch. Their tribal beat-filled dance performance was mesmerising. The troupe worked as one, with each individual movement intrinsically linked with the other.

For an opening evening of entertainment, this was a delightful taste of what is to come over the next three days.