Brisbane Festival’s World Premiere of Provocative, Large-Scale Dance Theatre Work – Salamander

Salamander (c) Damien Bredburg


Brisbane Festival From – 24 September 2023

International superstars, epic art installations, visceral dance and haunting melodies combine in Salamander, an immense yet intimate dance theatre production that makes its world premiere at Brisbane Festival from – 24 September 2023.

The must-see new production combines dance, music, theatre, light and art and is one of the most ambitious works commissioned and staged by Brisbane Festival.

Maxine Doyle

Responding to the global climate challenge through an intimate lens, Salamander is an international collaboration between acclaimed UK choreographer and director Maxine Doyle and celebrated British contemporary artist Es Devlin.

This will be the second collaboration between the pair and follows their highly acclaimed 2022 stage and installation work, Here Not Here for Göteborgs Operans Danskompani.

The creative partners have specifically tailored the large-scale production of Salamander to fit an unconventional venue: L Shed in the burgeoning riverfront Northshore precinct.

The location was selected to spotlight original sculptures by Ms Devlin, a renowned contemporary artist whose work has appeared at the Tate Modern, V&A, The Serpentine Gallery, The Louvre and the MET Museum. 

She has also crafted stage sculptures for Beyonce, The Weeknd and U2, The Royal Opera House, National Theatre, La Scala and The Met Opera as well as the 2022 Super Bowl featuring Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem and the 2012 London Olympic Closing Ceremony.

Salamander features two stage sculptures by Es Devlin: a transparent labyrinthian structure and a long kinetic table that live within a flooded science-fiction landscape, inhabited by characters who are desperate to make a change before it’s too late.

Maxine Doyle who is best known for her multi-award-winning immersive dance theatre works around the world and her long-standing collaboration with Punchdrunk will bring Salamander to life.

It also harnesses the creative talents of Australian-based composer and sound designer Rachael Dease and leading contemporary dance company Australasian Dance Collective (ADC).

Brisbane Festival Artistic Director Louise Bezzina said she was delighted the Festival would debut a vital work of such immense significance.

“This world premiere production is an enormous undertaking and I am so proud of the Brisbane Festival team for bringing every element together to produce and present a work of this scale,” Ms Bezzina said.

Salamander will be one of the biggest productions ever made by Brisbane Festival so it needed a venue that could accommodate its size and scope.

“Northshore is a location I absolutely love, and I’m so inspired by it so I asked Maxine to consider crafting her work for one of its warehouses.

“Because of its industrial nature, this warehouse could be anywhere in the world but the fact it sits along our city’s iconic river makes it uniquely Brisbane.”

Ms Doyle said Salamander was partly inspired by J.G. Ballard’s 1962 post-apocalyptic novel The Drowned World and the 2021 satirical climate politics film, Don’t Look Up.

“There’s a scene at the end of the film where some of the main protagonists decide to sit and have a nice dinner together, essentially as the world ends,” Ms Doyle said.

Production still from Here not Here, conceived by Maxine Doyle and Es Devlin, (c) Tilo Stengel

“I found it really moving and it made me painfully think about who I would want to be with at the end, what it is I really treasure and how to measure the power of community. These are the conversations I started to have with the creative team.”

She said Salamander was an intimate experience designed to gently provoke personal connections and reflections, despite the production’s physical scale.

“I hope this work is provocative, I hope it inspires people to think and feel and act – whether that’s picking up the phone to call their family or signing a petition.

“The space is epic but we are choosing to keep audience numbers small so people can be close to the work and personally experience the art and the dancers.

“Es has created these beautiful sculptural pieces and it was exciting to have a space they could sit inside and still have room for them to breathe.

“I think it’s also really exciting for audiences to go to a space they don’t know with all that intrigue adding to the mystère of the event.”

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said Brisbane Festival’s ambitious new production, Salamander, reinforces the Festival’s important role in delivering internationally significant work in Queensland.

“The world premiere of Salamander, an intimate and immersive dance theatre installation, is an exciting highlight in the Brisbane Festival 2023 program and a fantastic example of Brisbane Festival’s collaborative spirit,” Ms Enoch said.

Salamander brings together Queensland arts company, Australasian Dance Collective, with international and national artistic talent to deliver a unique work that will challenge audiences to think differently.

“This new and thought-provoking work will engage audiences in a conversation on climate change, told on a grand scale, and further demonstrate the power of the arts in considering important contemporary issues and driving social change.

“The Queensland Government supports Brisbane Festival to present incredible new work, showcase local artists and arts companies and grow employment and capacity building for our arts sector.

“We are committed to ensuring Queensland’s arts sector is best positioned to embrace the opportunities presented by the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games when our state’s unique arts and cultures will be showcased on a global stage.”

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said it was terrific to secure this world premiere event for Brisbane Festival in 2023.

Salamander confirms Brisbane’s place as a cultural hub for the Asia Pacific region, attracting artists and visitors from around the world,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Featuring a host of global events of the calibre of Salamander, the Brisbane Festival is predicted to generate $17.7 million for Brisbane’s tourism economy with up to 12,000 visitors sharing Queensland’s great lifestyle.”

The world premiere Australian exclusive dance theatre work, Salamander, runs from 1 to 24 September, as part of Brisbane Festival 2023

For information, to subscribe for updates and to purchase tickets, visit

Brisbane Festival is an initiative of the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council.

Brisbane Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and is a feature on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.




Conceived by Maxine Doyle and Es Devlin

When: Fri 1 to Sun 24 Sept 2023

Where: L Shed, Dock B, Northshore Brisbane



“Doyle is an artist whose work has the potential to change people at their core.”
Expressen on Here Not Here

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