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Supersense, Arts Centre Melbourne’s Festival of the Ecstatic announces 2019 program (23 -25 August)



Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic returns with a hypnotic collision of music, performance, dance and theatre in an ecstasy-inducing 2019 program from 23 – 25 August, 2019. Created by Arts Centre Melbourne with Australian New York-based performer and curator Sophia Brous, the third iteration of the intoxicating exploration of ecstatic performance is the most bold, distinctive and cross-disciplinary yet. Featuring icons of music, theatre, dance and performance ritual from five continents, Supersense is presented over three days in the underground labyrinth of Arts Centre Melbourne.

The 2019 festival brings together an extraordinary program of festival exclusive performances, Australian premieres, and unrepeatable artistic collaborations.

Legendary artists, pioneers and next-generation innovators include theatre auteur and icon Robert Wilson performing John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing, groundbreaking jazz group The Art Ensemble of Chicago in their 50th Anniversary tour (USA), sublime NZ songwriter Aldous Harding, Californian music enigma John Maus (USA), prophetic electronic and R&B artist Moor Mother, the Merce Cunningham Centennial Solo performances, divine troubadour Marlon Williams with The Impossible Orchestra, master Iraqi Maqam vocalist Hamid Al-Saadi; mind-blowing Indonesian ritual trioSetabuhan (INDONESIA), Tasmania’s post-punk duo The Native Cats (AUS), and many more.

In its third iteration, the three-day durational festival will present a mesmerising melting pot of performances that will take audiences on an exhilarating journey through epic artistry and ecstatic ritual, from artists and iconoclasts across music, theatre, dance and performance from around the world.

Supersense has thrilled audiences since 2015 with its rich and mind-expanding programs that led The Age to call it “the only music festival that matters”. In 2019, Supersense curator Brous has again brought together an extraordinary program of internationally revered artists and icons who explore sacred and profane expressions of performance.

Supersense is our invitation to enter worlds of radical imagination – of ecstasy, beauty, extremity, ritual and revelation,” says curator Sophia Brous.

“The festival is a journey into our human pursuit for ecstasy and release. It is a conversation between the old and new, the iconic and emerging, and the evolving rituals that continue to inform our quest for ecstatic revelation through art, song, performance and community.”

“Let the visions, sounds and experiences conspire to create something beautiful, impermanent, volatile and entirely unrepeatable.”

Set within the underground maze of Arts Centre Melbourne’s majestic buildings, venues and walkways, the festival’s immersive program will thrill audiences across a weekend filled with Australian exclusives and world premiere collaborations. The 2019 program boasts an exceptional line-up including:

  • American theatre icon, auteur, director and artist Robert Wilson performing and directing revolutionary composer John Cage’s A Lecture on Nothing, one of the central texts of 20th century experimental literature(Australian exclusive)
  • New Zealand sublime songwriter phenomenon, Aldous Harding, whose stark emotionality has received world-wide critical acclaim.
  • Legendary avant-garde jazz icons The Art Ensemble of Chicago, led by Roscoe Mitchell and Famoudou Don Moye, in their celebrated 50th Anniversary Celebration dedicated to Lester Bowie, Shaku Joseph Jarman and Malachi Favors Maghostut and their lasting contribution to “Great Black Music – Ancient to the Future” with special guests including Moor Mother, Tomeka Reid and Dudu Kouate, Hugh Ragin and Junius Paul(Australian exclusive)
  • Next-generation American poet, musician, and activist Moor Mother presenting an arresting solo work fresh from sold-out New York premieres.
  • Music enigma and cult artist John Maus – known for his rapturous, timeless anthemic song writing, baritone singing style and hell-raising live shows.
  • Sublime singer songwriter Marlon Williams performing an exclusive major orchestral concert of his repertoire with The Impossible Orchestra, including members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Australian exclusive and premiere).
  • Master Iraqi Maqam vocalist Hamid Al-Saadi comes to Australia for the first time to share the millennia old tradition of the Iraqi Maqam. The only living performer who has mastered all of the intricacies of the Maqam repertoire and its ancient variations, Al-Saadi is an unmissable experience.
  • Cunningham Centennial Solos: Melbourne, an exclusive Melbourne presentation of selected solos, celebrating the centenary of American choreographer Merce Cunningham’s life and career.
  • The “world’s best Tombak (goblet drum) player” Iranian Mohammad Reza Mortazavi playing traditional Persian hand drums in his own unique way to craft a network of danceable rhythms, up-tempo beats and trance-like textures.
  • Indonesian musician Rully Shabara’s (Senyawa) power ritual trio Setabuhan, a modern reinvention of tribal trance music accompanied by two heavy percussionists and layered with vocals. Inspired by the interlocking beats of ancient ritual of Balia from Central Sulawesi, the live performance is legendary and accompanied by martial artists.
  • New York choreographer Kimberly Bartosik presents her BAM Next Wave commissioned dance performance I hunger for you, which explores the impulse to lose oneself in ecstasy, ritual and desire. (Australian exclusive premiere)
  • Celebrated Indonesian-born, Tokyo-based dancer and choreographer Rianto(Akram Khan Company), exploring Lengger, a cross gender dance form from Banyumas, Central Java in his own work.


Supersense will take place over three days with ticketing options including MAXIMALand MINIMAL programs and single performance tickets. For the full program, visit www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/supersense.

MAXIMAL program – Supersense arrives with a dazzling opening program of revelatory sound, rhythm and dizzying, visceral expression, featuring an electrifying line-up of artists including Moor Mother, John Maus, Setabuhan, Mohammad Reza Mortazvi, The Native Cats, CS Kreme, Purple Pilgrims and more.

MINIMAL program – 
The central Saturday afternoon MINIMAL program is devoted to the space of deep listening, wonder, contemplation and minimalist expression, featuring an incredible line-up of artists across the Supersense spaces, including Roscoe Mitchell, Hamid Al-Saadi, Graham Lambkin, Amir ElSaffar, the Cunningham Centennial Solos: Melbourne and more.

Single performance tickets: Marlon Williams with The Impossible Orchestra, Robert Wilson performing John Cage’s Lecture on NothingMedium by Rianto, I hunger for you by Kimberly Bartosik/daela, Aldous Harding and The Art Ensemble of Chicago.

In 2019 Arts Centre Melbourne is delighted to welcome on board MINI Australia as Presenting Partner for Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic.

“the only music festival that matters”
 – The Age

“mind-expanding music programming” – The Monthly

Tickets on sale from 10am Monday 3 June, 2019

Book at artscentremelbourne.com.au/supersense

Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Supersense: Festival of the Ecstatic
Arts Centre Melbourne
23 – 25 August 2019
Visit artscentremelbourne.com.au/supersense

Mick Pachollihttps://www.tagg.com.au
Mick created TAGG - The Alternative Gig Guide in 1979 with Helmut Katterl, the world's first real Street Magazine. He had been involved with his fathers publishing business, Toorak Times and associated publications since 1972.  Mick was also involved in Melbourne's music scene for a number of years opening venues, discovering and managing bands and providing information and support for the industry. Mick has also created a number of local festivals and is involved in not for profit and supporting local charities.