Ecstatic over a new arts festival

Supersense curator Sophia Brous.

THE new Supersense festival opening on August 7 at Arts Centre Melbourne explores music, film, dance, performance art, sound and light.

Spearheaded by Jewish performer Sophia Brous, who is the festival curator and artistic associate at Arts Centre Melbourne, it is billed as a festival for the ecstatic.

Featuring artists from around the world, the line-up includes Los Angeles underground eclectic musician Ariel Pink, German electronic artist Ash Ra Tempel/Manuel Gottsching and Indigenous Australian singer Gurrumul.

Brous, 30, believes that Supersense will be a unique event on the arts calendar.

“I wanted to create a world of wonder where the work isn’t defined by the right kind of art or the next big thing,” she tells The AJN.

“It’s more about drawing from the pool of history and bringing together a cast of performers … and you can step into it and observe and participate and be affected by so many different pieces of work.”

Brous says that an interactive element will be infused in all of the performances.

“Supersense will be a space to be curious and intrepid, to come and see a legendary icon and then discover an entire world of sounds and traditions that are heart-wrenching, extreme, profound and joyous.”

Explaining her inspiration for the festival, Brous says: “In my life as a performer and curator, I’m interested in disarming experiences and not just conventional ones where you are entertained. I’m interested in experiences that carry with them a sense of spontaneity and risk, danger, improvisation and excitement.

“This festival is about creating an environment where all parts are interactive.”

Brous has commissioned special performances for the festival including John Cale, Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance and Michigan electronic artist Laurel Halo.

She has collaborated with the Asian Performing Arts Program for a variety of performances including the Javanese dance ritual Kuda Lumping, overseen by former Chunky Move artistic director Gideon Obarzanek.

Also performing is China’s TAO Dance Theatre with its acclaimed minimalist contemporary dances created by choreographer Tao Ye.

Brous has been a fan of jazz since she was 12, and carried the passion through her music education at school and university.

At 22, she became one of Australia’s youngest festival directors when she was appointed to run the Melbourne International Jazz Festival – a position she held for three festivals.

She was curator of music at the prestigious Adelaide Festival of the Arts and has worked as a broadcaster for Triple R FM.

An award-winning musician and composer, Brous has collaborated with many artists including Mick Harvey, Paul Kelly, Kimbra, Patrick Wimberly (Chairlift) and Paul Grabowsky, and has sung on Bollywood soundtracks and Hollywood film scores.

Brous won’t be making an appearance as a performer at the Supersense festival, explaining that “putting it together felt like enough”.

However, after Supersense, Brous will be touring and performing in the United States and Europe for Barbican London’s In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited.

“I’ll be releasing music at the end of the year that I’m really excited about,” she says.

“I’m also going to be in Europe and America to do a big research development for a project that focuses on lullabies that I was originally commissioned to do by the Sydney Festival. It’ll be an exciting year and I’m really happy about it.”

Supersense is at Arts Centre Melbourne from August 7-9. Bookings:

REPORT by Zoe Kron