Review: Dance works hold mirror to our lives

By Raewyn Whyte

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The spectacular Tuakana Pure, co-produced and performed by Charles Koroneho, examines aspects of whanau, place and culture.
The spectacular Tuakana Pure, co-produced and performed by Charles Koroneho, examines aspects of whanau, place and culture.

The capacity of dance to offer insight into our lives was foregrounded in the first 48 hours of Tempo 2013, with works exploring love, grief, lynching, the transformation of traditional cultural forms, the satisfactions to be found in distraction, the delights of body percussion, and human resilience.

Opening night brought a richly immersive experience in Tuakana Pure, a spectacular performance installation collaboratively created by Charles Koroneho (performer, designer, producer) in partnership with Brad Gledhill (performance design, lighting, production) and Alejandro Ronceria (dramaturgy, choreography, direction).

At once mourning the recent passing of Koroneho's father, re-committing to aspects of family, whanau, place and culture, and reflecting on the transformation wrought by relocation, this work offers a ritualised space in which those watching are also invited to reflection.

Gledhill's extraordinary lighting sets the audience behind a waterfall-like canopy of light beams while Koroneho's resting, very slowly moving body appears to be on fire, releasing little puffs of smoke and glowing with intense, lava-like light.

Later, Koroneho navigates the world via star maps, and binds his personal and cultural necessities to a stick with glowing LED strings.

The Fresh showcase brings well-developed and impressively performed short works from emerging artists Jahra Rager, Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French, Grace Woollett, Simon Watts and Andrew Cesan. The fifth and most impressive work of the selection, by Sophie Williams and Mattie Hamuera, is Nga Whaiaipo O Te Roto Lovers of the Lake, a sensitively crafted evocation of the relationship between legendary lovers Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

The ways in which communities rally in the face of earthquakes is the focus of Fault Lines, a China-New Zealand co-production, directed and choreographed by Sara Brodie, with design by Mark McIntyre and music by Gareth Farr and Gao Ping, performed by 17 members of the Leshan Dance Company, from China. Most striking are the climactic scenes, one in which all of the dancers crawl across rubble to be rescued; another in which they turn to tai chi to calm themselves in the face of devastation, and the closing moments, in which framed silhouettes of loved ones are displayed, an internationally recognised symbol of loss.

Tempo Dance Festival

What: Tuakana Pure by Charles Koroneho

Where and when: Q Theatre, October 9

What: Fresh

Where and when: Q Loft, October 10

What: Fault Lines, with the Leshan Dance Company of China

Where and when: Q Theatre October 10

- NZ Herald

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