Tempo Dance Festival: Q Theatre

Okareka Dance Company.
Okareka Dance Company.

Eleven days, one venue, 23 different programmes and 37 separate performances make Auckland's annual dance festival Tempo a full-on proposition this year, for performers and audiences.

A new work from Okareka Dance Company, Nga Hau E Wha (literally "people of all the lands" but also carrying the wider meaning of "the four corners of the earth" or "the four elements of fire, earth, air and water") is one of the headline acts.

Taiaroa Royal, co-founder of Okareka with Taane Mete, totally supports the festival.

"Okareka premiered at Tempo and the festival provides a great opportunity to perform in Auckland," he says. "But with that many shows and just one main stage at Q Theatre, and everybody wanting to show their work at its best, technical rehearsals and getting into the venue is very tight, very rushed."

New artistic and managing director of Tempo, Celia Walmsley, who took over the reins from Mary Jane O'Reilly in February, says the festival format is similar to previous years but her vision for Tempo is "to broaden the genre and to give artists an extended performance time".

Most of the shows this year have two or three runs. "So much work goes into making a show," she says. "There is all this hype going into it - and then if there is just one performance and it's all over, the artists never really get a chance to settle in and enjoy it."

A repeat showing also allows for some word-of-mouth publicity and opportunity for a wider audience to catch the most popular shows that quickly sell out a single performance.

And though the tight schedule might be a logistical challenge for performers, it can provide a bonus for audiences, with discounts on ticket prices for those who decide to make a night of it and see two, or even three, different shows back to back.

With smaller productions in the Q Theatre's second performance space, the Loft, and staggered start times, Walmsley hopes punters will roll up for a 6pm, an 8pm and even a late show as well.

Other professional companies in the line up include Footnote Dance Company with another programme in their Forte Series, this year showing works by Michael Parmenter, Lynn Pringle and Kristian Larsen.

Footnote's iconic founder Deirdre Tarrant, who recently announced her retirement from the company, will also be especially honoured at Tempo this year.

Touch Compass, award-winning integrated dance company, perform alongside Tasmanian group Second Echo in a double bill programme, Seamless. Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts are presenting a one-off performance, entitled Time Dance & Soma Songs, billed as "a remarkable audio visual spectacle". Belton is also a multi-award winner.

Duets, a celebration of partner dancing, ranges in content from Andrew Simmons' gorgeous A Song in the Dark, performed by artists of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, through Dancing with the Stars favourites Brian Jones and Beatrice Faumuina, to TMC tap crew.

Out of the Box is an explosion of hip-hop, and there is more hip-hop on show in Y Chromozone, the all-male variety lineup.

One of the best Tempo traditions is the range of programmes that show the progression of dance talent across the genres, from The Kids Show, Secondary Colours and Tertiary Colours, all student shows, into Fresh Cuts for emerging choreographers and Prime Cuts, for those in their prime.

There are two burlesque shows, Mary-Jane O'Reilly's Inflagrante and Lily Loca's Vaudeville Cabaret Va-Va-Voom Burlesque Show.

Sir Jon Trimmer KNZM MBE is running a mime workshop and An Audience With. Colours of India tracks the colourful history of classical and folk dance in that vast continent with a jubilant salute to Bollywood.

Pacific culture is represented in Pukepuke 'O Tonga and the Salsa Ball, in the theatre foyer, is an opportunity for all to get with Latin rhythms.

What: Tempo Dance Festival
Where and when: Q Theatre, October 9-21

- NZ Herald

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