A substantial yet skeletal 4sq m cube is ever present in Okareka Dance Company's Wired, providing a stage within the stage of Q Theatre's Rangatira auditorium.
Surrounded on three sides by the audience, the cube is a portal for the stars of Matariki who have come to earth to explore what it is to be human and mortal, to inhabit a body and connect with other bodies.
Eight dancers move confidently and with panache across the floor, climbing the cube's sturdy frame, occasionally swinging around a pole or hanging from a beam. Moving inside the cube in close proximity, their deft solos, duets and trios are intricate, full of small detail and crafted to avoid collisions within the constrained space.
Outside the cube, their movements are expansive with exciting full-on ensemble sections seeming effortless as the dancers flow around and through the cube, sliding and rebounding against the floor and manipulating partners in the air to driving music by Eden Mulholland.
There is no storyline or set characters; the overall effect of an extended series of short interludes is impressionistic. There is an air of playfulness and generosity which slowly morphs towards an intense watchfulness and more measured, deliberate action.
There are references to the inchoate darkness from which the earth was created, the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, children's birthday parties and adult celebrations. Motherly concern and comfort are offered, support and encouragement overcome shyness. Situations of conflict, anger and domination, anxiety and fear, colonisation and unpredictable reactions bring a balance of reality.
The dancers are a strong ensemble and have co-developed the work with choreographers Taiaroa Royal, Taane Mete and Sarah Foster-Sproull. Throughout the work there is a rich fusion of personally inflected movement from wide ranging sources, most impressively seen in the closing solo by Aloalii Tapu.
What: Wired by Okareka Dance Company
Where and when: Q Theatre, until Sunday
Reviewed by Raewyn Whyte