Dance review: Tempo offerings step from serene to fast and fabulous

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Tumutumu with Louise Potiki Bryant.
Tumutumu with Louise Potiki Bryant.

The haunting voices of rock and wood, shell and pounamu, the "tumutumu" of Louise Potiki Bryant's solo work, and played live by Richard Nunns, blend evocatively with Paddy Free's soundtrack. That sound and beautiful visual projections also blend with the dance, achieving a rare and articulate harmony.

So Tumutumu moves elegantly, hypnotically against an egg-shaped screen reflecting images, most arrestingly of a gorgeous woman's face emerging from a river's green water, and of Potiki Bryant herself, lizard-like, flicking long, lean limbs around and across a river boulder.

In real time, the dance is fluid, complex and transcendent. We recognise birth and death at either end of the creation story, but miss a middle. Programme notes give a title to nine specific phases of the work. In practice they mostly blend seamlessly and rather mystifyingly together. A little more illumination, both cerebral and in the stage's lighting, might address the resulting sense of detachment.

In contrast the Tempo 2013 version of Y Chromozone is fast, direct, a full-on festival of its own.

Stunning solos include Tynan Wood's embodiment of Sheila Chandra's Speaking in Tongues, Aaron Burr's meditation with a Chinese swinging pole, Luke Hanna's virtuosic Eye, and Christopher Olwage's Swan, which truly challenges perceptions of gender-appropriate beauty and wins.

Champions of the hip-hop world, Identity Dance Crew, rattle the rafters with their routine. Xin Ji (on stage) dances a superb duet with Medhi Angot (on video) in Fall Creek Boys Choir, choreographed by Brigitte Knight.

Then Michael Parmenter's iconic Fields of Jeopardy, made in the Olympic Games year of 1988 and inspired by athletic prowess, tests the mettle of an all-male cast from Unitec in a fantastic finale to a pretty fantastic show.

The New Zealand School of Dance's And Then It Moved is a pastiche of choreographic material from their third-year choreographic season and showcases plenty of sparkling technique. But there is also something sadly derivative in the work: the smearing of white paint reeks of the 80s, the excessive "snowfall" at the end seemed gratuitous.

In contrast Unitec's dancers, in their segmented All About Eve, an hilarious study of the mating game shown in Tertiary Colours, might not be as slick but are real, fresh and original. Yay! Milly Grant and Karena Koria, from Manukau Institute of Technology, are the other Tertiary stars, in their polished-to-perfection but from the heart Purpose.

What: Tempo Dance Festival performances - Tumutumu, And Then It Moved, Tertiary Colours, Y Chromozone

Where: Q Theatre

- NZ Herald

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