Key Points:

Auckland dance fans have much to look forward to next year.

Two major festivals each bring rich dance-viewing opportunities for three weeks at a time. Between are new works by established choreographers, the return of Cirque du Soleil, this time bringing Varekai, and the Late Night Choreographers' showcase to look forward to.

AK07 from March 9-25 is resolutely contemporary, with five dance seasons on the roster. First is Dark Tourists, a thought-provoking dance theatre vision of the near future from Rifleman Productions, with choreographer Malia Johnston, director Emma Willis, and composer/musician Eden Mulholland.

The birds have gathered, waiting for the return of the sea, and the tourists hover, ready to pluck souvenirs from the salt-encrusted ground. The performers leave you with a question - what is the future of this world?

Also from Rifleman Productions is the award-winning Terrain, a celebration of the ever-changing relationships between people and the landscapes they inhabit with all their precariousness and transformation.

Lemi Ponifasio's Tempest will have its world premiere in Europe late next year, and is previewed in AK07.

With a nod to Shakespeare, this Tempest is presented through extraordinary movement sequences and Maori oratory, addressing issues such as the loss of sovereign rights, the geopolitics of the Pacific, and the implications of detention. It will be presented by MAU at Corban Estate.

Ballet Preljocaj presents Les Saisons 4/The Four Seasons by veteran choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, set to the music of Vivaldi.

Combining movements from eclectic sources danced with virtuosity, and a torrent of objects and rapidly changing visual scenarios created by Fabrice Hyber, Four Seasons has four themes - bursting forth, exaltation, suspension and vibration. The music is broken by silent passages which seek to reveal previously hidden aspects of the score.

And the all-new, all-female Black Grace presents Neil Ieremia's amata (a time to dance). The new work has come from the unfinished Objects and takes its inspiration from Ecclesiastes and personal events in the choreographer's life.

Ieremia describes his new ensemble of 11 dancers as "passionate and vital young women with a generous spirit" and there will be much interest in the premiere production.

From September 28-October 14, tempo dance festival presents an array of performances in different styles from professional and community-based companies, supplemented by forums and showings of dance on film.

Performance highlights will include the Footnote Forte Season of choreography by Michael Parmenter; a world dance showcase; a new season of works from last year's tempo award-winners Backlit Productions; an evening of world-class award-winning videodance films by Shona McCullagh; and the premiere of Atamira Dance Collective's new work by acclaimed Kanak choreographer Richard Digoue, featuring Kanak movement and rhythms and commissioned for the New Caledonia New Zealand Season.

Tempo organisers hope the festival will also include the Royal New Zealand Ballet in a new Cinderella, choreographed by Christopher Hampson with design by Tracy Grant.

Major new must-see works are also on the way from senior choreographers Sean Curham and Shona McCullagh, who will present performance installations rather than theatrical works and encourage active audience participation.

Curham's Bedrock will be presented three times during January and February. This "extravagant performance-installation with an extended duration, food and a bar" comprises a multitude of singular events which overlap, making it impossible for any one person to see all the events in a given evening.

It has a cast of 30, with components ranging from 100 icing sugar rabbits, and a duet with a 30m tree, plus the collaboration of sound artists Charlotte 90 and scenic designer Harriet Oxley. The audience will need to seek their own vantage points throughout the four-hour event.

McCullagh's Peep Shows will be presented for a three-week season in May as a series of interactive performance booths in which human actions have unpredictable results. Booths will be equipped with live performers, interactive technologies and input/output devices, and in some the audience will be the performers.

Peep Shows uses scenarios developed by McCullagh, using the dancetech software Isadora in collaboration with digital artist Mike Hodgson (Pitch Black) and composer John Gibson.

Old favourites also return. Late Night Choreographers will showcase emerging artists in April and August, the Royal New Zealand Ballet will present Swan Lake in October, the New Zealand Ceroc Champs will fill the ASB Stadium in May, and the ever popular Cirque du Soleil presents a six-week season of Varekai, at the Auckland Showgrounds in Greenlane until February 18.