THE George Town Festival (GTF) 2019 in Penang had a glowing start with ‘When Night Falls’, an exciting two-day extravaganza at the scenic Esplanade.
Local and international acts transformed the area into a playground of lights, colours and sounds, treating crowds to one spectacle after another.
Many were left in awe by the dazzling projection mapping displays which saw both the Town Hall and City Hall buildings come alive like never before.
Around the large field were several zones that featured different performances. Some acts roved from zone to zone, taking groups of people along.
One was Le Ballerine of Teatro Pavana from the Netherlands. Dressed in brightly coloured tutus, the ballerinas on stilts were towering attractions.
Pirouetting around, swirling their tutus and flailing ribbons to the sound of music, they captivated spectators old and young alike.
Night Colours, from the same troupe, provided an electrifying audio-visual spectacle. Once unfurled, their shimmering costumes lighted up.
Nearby, Moz Drums of France dialled up the fun with twinkling, percussive routines. Aglow in LED-lined outfits and drums, their vibrant energy proved infectious.
With the sun fully beneath the horizon, the luminous horses of fellow Frenchmen Compagnie des Quidams’ FierS à Cheval trotted onto the pitch in grand style.
With a ringmaster conducting the dreamy creatures, those who encircled the area were treated to a visually stunning, circus-like performance.
Addressing the crowd during the opening ceremony on Saturday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the GTF, now in its 10th year, is quickly becoming one of Asia’s leading arts events.
“We hope the vibrant performances combining cutting-edge technology with sensational acrobatic feats keeps everyone entertained, enthralled and amused.
“But these lights have also shone the spotlight on the state government’s Penang 2030 Vision and the value that the arts brings to this family-centric vision,” he added.
State tourism development, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said festivals were a fast-growing tourism segment, and such events could boost Penang’s appeal.
“Travellers today want to create meaningful connections with local arts and culture. They want an immersive experience of Penang’s cultural diversity.
“This is why we wanted GTF 2019 to include more local content and make the arts accessible for all,” Yeoh pointed out.
George Town World Heritage Incorporated general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee urged the public to be part of the mostly free-to-attend events, which cover visual art, theatre, music, dance, film and photography, among others.
Chow and wife Tan Lean Kee, as well as Yeoh and Dr Ang, were later joined by local leaders and festival director Jack Wong, in a launching gimmick.
Performers from MyDance Station Ballet School then emerged to deliver a spellbinding odyssey of illuminated movements themed The Nocturne.
The crowd, which organisers number at 70,000 for the opening night, also enjoyed a fiery show by Luka, Zeb and Cassia Chloe from France and the United Kingdom.
The fire artists turned up the heat with a combination of martial arts, dance and acrobatics, twirling staffs, spinning poi and manipulating pyrotechnic effects.
Water splashed about in On and Off, a ruminative contemporary dance inspired by traditional Malaysian forms choreographed by Pexstret Liu.
Making use of a shallow, gleaming pool, its movements pondered whether those who are trapped in the rat race, are actually living and breathing for others.
Among the night’s other highlights were the cross-cultural installation performance The Return of Tapestry, a quartet of contemplative dance pieces titled Body Riddle, the sand art-based environmental commentary Umbrella of Conscience, and a pair of light installations themed Light Warp and Light Rain.
The GTF 2019 continues until July 28. For the full rundown of programmes and ticketing for select shows, visit georgetown
festival.com, email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 012-6646251 (10am to 5pm daily).
Otherwise, follow George Town Festival on Facebook, georgetownfestival on Instagram, @GT_Festival on Twitter and GTFpg on Youtube for the latest updates and snippets.