If you are looking for adventurous, extraordinary and experimental dance performances, the Auckland Fringe Festival should be able to satisfy, stimulate and entertain, with more than 15 productions to choose from.
The Basement Theatre offers a trio of dance productions with real-world experiences at their heart. Cat Ruka's new Awkward Altars (The Basement, March 1-3) tackles the disparate and dissonant experiences of 10 Auckland performers spanning an array of ages, cultural backgrounds and performance genres set against a score by James Risbey and Lucy Beeler.
White Face Crew's comedic La Vie Dans Une Marionette (The Basement, February 28-March 3), about the experiences of a lonely pianist and the puppet he befriends, is an expanded version of their 2010 award-winning work that combines physical theatre, clowning and hip-hop.
Promising newcomers Salted Singlet present An Unfortunate Willingness To Agree (The Basement, February 20-24), the dance award-winner at last year's New Zealand Fringe Festival in Wellington, choreographed by recent dance graduate Oliver Connew (Unitec) in collaboration with Gareth Okan (NZ School of Dance).
Now reworked with the input of choreographer/dancer Zahra Killeen-Chance, this unsettling work tangles with the craving of the 20-something generation to be something much more human and honest than the people they interact with every day.
With a score by Marika Pratley, this targets our complicity with the political and media forces that shape our lives.
Loft at Q Theatre also offers three divergent works. Frothy and charming, The Pineapple Jukebox Dance Show (February 20-23) sets out purely to entertain. Directed by Julie Anterrieu, this interactive dance work invites the audience to determine the sequence of items ranging in styles from belly dance to ballet, burlesque to cancan, tap dance to balancing act.
By contrast, Rifleman Productions from Wellington returns with Terrain (February 27-March 1), a meditative, absorbing saga of shifting relationships between a man and a woman and their ever-changing environments. Originally created in 2002 by Guy Ryan and Malia Johnston, this is danced by trans-Tasman performers Luke Hanna and Anita Hunziker. Also from Rifleman Productions is Amanimal, a fascinating movement study focused on the shifting human/animal boundary and the instinct for survival. The first draft of what will eventually become an evening-length work, this has been conceived and co-directed by Malia Johnston and Emma Willis and is performed by Paul Young and Ross McCormack with live video by Rowan Pierce, a live score produced by Eden Mulholland and a set by John Verryt.
The Maidment Studio presents a full-length version of the highly theatrical How To Make Friends And Still Appear Normal (February 19-21), choreographed, directed and produced by Natalie Clark, with a score by Emi Pogoni and performed by Clark with Sarah Elsworth and Sofia McIntyre. Often highly comedic, this provocative work examines the transition from child to adult and questions the ways in which "normal" and "weird" are defined, tackling advertising, fashion trends and a divergent array of ways in which we relate to one another.
Several newly formed ensembles of emerging artists present their works at Tapac, the Leys Institute, Mangere Arts Centre and out on the streets, making a critique of the ridiculous, twisted perspective of the beauty machine, dealing with the messy nature of human relationships, sharing stories about tops and toplessness, creating a toe-tapping standout event, and bringing to life mythical Pasifika creatures to interact with.
Completing the roster are the 70-strong Wet Hot Beauties, who continue their re-invention of water ballet at the Parnell Baths (ends tomorrow at 9pm), with Swan Song created by Pip Hall, Judy Dale, Lara Fischel-Chisholm and the performers. This Baz Luhrman-inspired classical love tragedy-pool party mashup, based on the ballet Swan Lake, will be spectacular.