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For three huge weekends from 31 March to 16 April 2017, the stunning physical beauty of the Gold Coast will become the backdrop for one of Australia’s most distinctive and progressive contemporary arts events, Bleach* Festival.

True to its home city and in the lead up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, this year Bleach* Festival will explore the relationship between sport and art, and how they share strength, passion, power, risk, grace, endurance and beauty.

A highly physical and visual program will feature big names alongside up-and-coming artists and a mix of free and ticketed events. Music, circus, theatre, dance, cabaret, installations and spectacle will bring to life more than 20 spectacular public spaces and venues from beautiful beaches to a community town hall, a Spiegeltent, a locker room and a skate park.

Kicking off the opening weekend, Dope Lemon (Angus Stone), Ash Grunwald, Tia Gostelow and Emily Wurramara will feature at Saltwater Sessions on the Coolangatta foreshore. Nearby, the world premiere of Churaki Hill will see projections of the Gold Coast’s iconic ocean men and women from Indigenous elders to surfing legends by internationally acclaimed artist Craig Walsh.

Visual artist Amanda Parer’s amazing giant illuminated humanoid figures will light up Varsity Lakes for the very first time, with a live soundtrack from TH’FIKA, The Ruiins and Austen.

The world premiere of Frank Enstein by Gold Coast / Berlin dance company The Farm and WA’s Co3 will electrify kids and grown ups with magic, dance, comedy and an original soundscape at The Arts Centre Gold Coast. Meanwhile The Forwards, a tragicomedy theatre work about footy written by Zeal Theatre and performed by Shock Therapy Productions, will play the first weekend at Griffith University and the second in the Broadbeach Cats AFL Club’s locker room.

The ocean will provide the backdrop for Inherit the Wind, where string orchestra DeepBlue and master percussionist Michael Askill will perform the world premiere of Song to the Earth, an immersive music installation by composer Corrina Bonshek, in a circular bamboo sculpture at Coolangatta beach.

Running throughout the festival are two events, the first strictly for adults and the second for the whole family. For the very first time a Spiegeltent will open its ornate doors in Broadbeach when Strut and Fret’s international hit burlesque show Blanc de Blanc takes residence for 23 performances. And Robina Town Centre will become the home of Here I Am!, this year’s exciting Bleach* JNR festival, featuring two new interactive art and play installations.

On the second weekend, the epic Fun Run by Melbourne participatory arts and dance company All The Queens Men, will see artist Tristan Meecham run 42 kilometres on a treadmill as homage to the legend of Pheidippides, who ran to Athens to announce the Persians’ defeat in the battle of Marathon, and dropped dead on arrival. The participatory performance on Cavill Avenue in the heart of Surfers Paradise will be given a Gold Coast flavour with massive visual effects, a booming soundtrack, a local professional cast of dancers and extended community cast of hundreds.

Snake Sessions will be a spontaneous, anarchic performance at Pizzey Park, featuring professional skaters, BMX riders, dancers and parkourists, alongside local skate park users who’ve been recruited for the week, all set to live drumming and brought together by Sydney’s Branch Nebula.

Surf Safari Feast will be a celebration of surf music in Palm Beach, while The Beauty Pageant will take over the historic Mudgeeraba Hall, where artist Elizabeth Woods will invite the Gold Coast community to nominate their most beautiful person, based on what lies beneath the skin and behind the eyes. Music from Canadian folk trio East Pointers will close out proceedings at the iconic Hall with a Sunday afternoon session not to be missed.

Wired at Paradise Point will be a lively day of alfresco contemporary circus and music, a world premiere featuring some of Australia and the world’s leading high-wire artists including Kane Petersen and Jessica McCrindle and created by Chelsea McGuffin.

The third and final weekend of Bleach* Festival 2017 will go out with a huge bang, thanks to a new outdoor, trampoline and parkour spectacle by Sydney’s internationally renowned aerial theatre company Legs On The Wall called Highly Sprung. The performance will explore the everyday challenges of four people finding it difficult to start the day, while the urban staging will juxtapose Kurrawa Pratten Park in Broadbeach, providing a bouncy playground for the public in between shows.

A closing night concert will feature the Australian debut of the sensational Peruvian Salsa Dura orchestra Sabor y Control.

Bleach* Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said more than 20 local and national arts companies would feature in the diverse program of amazing physical feats, exciting mini-festivals championing local musicians, challenging site-specific theatre and participatory arts projects.

“Bleach* is a festival of place, and it’s an honour to be working on the Gold Coast right now with a growing, youthful and energetic arts community, who are not afraid to take risks and who share a sense of inspiration from our physical surroundings,” Ms Bezzina said.

Visit www.bleachfestival.com.au for more information about the program and tickets.