Two dance works examining aspects of human interaction comprise Contrast, Footnote New Zealand Dance's double-bill show now midway through a national tour. Deftly performed, these works were enthusiastically received by a capacity Auckland audience.
Sarah Foster-Sproull's somewhat experimental Super Ornate Construct is an existentialist comic strip which reconsiders the "man alone" stereotype. It combines blocks of movement structured as if dancers are conversing, a musical collage and the wielding of cardboard cutout objects to amplify the stereotypical characteristics of the man alone figure. Andrew Foster's voice-over narration is somewhat obtrusive given the movement makes clear what's going on.
Our man alone (Adam Naughton) stands in the rain thinking, and not thinking, about a relationship gone awry. His former girlfriend (Georgia Beechey-Gradwell) interrupts his not -thinking in subtle ways. The other dancers offer their interpretations of went wrong but tend to support Beechey-Gradwell's soft sadness rather than Naughton's more lofty and somewhat puzzled bearing so he remains a man alone as the work ends.
Emma Murray's Participation is an absorbing, mesmerising tapestry of extraordinarily detailed repeated movement with ever-changing variations in patterning, positioning, pace, cross-rhythm co-ordination and connections between the dancers.
The patterning builds steadily in complexity as cumulative layers of movement, a sound-score (by Till Hilbrecht) and lighting are added.
Arms and hands, torsos, heads and shoulders are added to the mix before the dancers (Naughton, Joshua Faleatua, Beechey-Gradwell and Tyler Carney) break out of a forward-facing line to form duets, trios and contrasting solos. A fifth dancer (Anu Khapung) insinuates her body wherever she can find a way to do so, clinging to other moving bodies and creating some extreme manoeuvres with Naughton in the process.
Thoroughly developed, with clear structures and a rich repertoire of possibilities, Participation is, nevertheless, improvisationally performed and requires a more than normally intense focus and collective awareness from all dancers in the ensemble at all times. A superb performance, the kind you want to see more than once.
What: Contrast - Footnote New Zealand Dance
Where: Raye Freedman Arts Centre
Reviewed by Raewyn Whyte