Dance Review: Tempo Dance Festival 2011

By Raewyn Whyte

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body fight time was the final mainbill work in Q's auditorium. Photo / Supplied
body fight time was the final mainbill work in Q's auditorium. Photo / Supplied

The annual Prime Cuts showcase in Tempo Dance Festival 2011 comprised just four works.

Two were excerpts which left you wanting more - a precisely timed 20 minute section from the polemical New Treaty Militia by Cat Ruka, and a 15 minute excerpt from Antje Pfunder's tightly structured solo There There, sensitively danced by Footnote's Francis Christeller.

Sarah Foster-Sproull's carnivalesque Tragic Best, performed by nine students from the NZ School of Dance, was all angsty slapstick, cartoonish moments and wry commentary on the rising generation which these dancers represent.

The standout was Mia Mason's entrancing Brunhilde Observing Gunther, Whom She has Tied to the Ceiling, co-created with stellar dancers Sarah Foster-Sproull and Alex Leonshartsberger, and exploring the power dynamics of a loving relationship which nevertheless has her trussing him up like an animal for impending slaughter.

The richly referential and metaphorically layered new body fight time was the final mainbill work in Q's auditorium for Tempo 2011.

Collectively developed by choreographer/director Malia Johnston and co-director Emma Willis in partnership with the dancers, this presents a series of bodily encounters, some with catastrophic impact, which affect our perceptions and the future we anticipate as a result.

Created by Rifleman Productions in partnership with Footnote Dance Company, and a scenographic dream team (music by Eden Mulholland, set by John Verryt, lighting by Brad Gledhill, AV by Rowan Pierce), this is a fully integrated whole, with highly memorable mood-setting songs, compelling video portraits and sequences which interweave seamlessly with the dancing.

A number of questions are posed within the work, challenging us to think more deeply about our experiences with the ravages of time.

During Tempo's second week, Black Grace presented a programme of short works by Neil Ieremia, Verse 2, at the Maidment Theatre.

A mix of old and new, the opening PatiPati presented the company in classic style -- an intricately structured dance whose patterns, rhythms and timing are drawn directly from Samoan traditional Sasa and Fa'ataupati.

A selection from 2010's Verses and the closing section of 2009's Keep Honour Bright also presented rhythmically driven, constantly flowing muscular motion, with little respite.

A new work, The Nature of Things, set to luxuriant, lyrical harp music played on stage by Natalia Mann, incorporates balletic arms and formations, but keeps the pace cracking along - the less driven, more lyrical side of things remainsto be explored yet.

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