Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

Review: Cross-cultural work ranges from intimate to explosive

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Dancers from Singapore's T.H.E Dance Company start quietly before building to a crescendo in Change and Constancy.
Dancers from Singapore's T.H.E Dance Company start quietly before building to a crescendo in Change and Constancy.

The curtains lift, revealing a dancer seated solemnly to one side. All is quiet barring the sound of audience members settling into their seats.

It's an unassuming but effective start to a show featuring the world premiere of the co-production between one of New Zealand's leading contemporary dance companies, Black Grace, and Singapore's T.H.E Dance Company.

The first piece, Change and Constancy, begins with little drama but gradually builds to a crescendo of primal, raw movement. Choreographer Kuik Swee Boon's aim is to explore the parallels between his Singaporean/Malaysian society and that of the Black Grace dancers.

The piece is in many ways contemporary dance as I've come to expect it; at times dark and moody with a narrative that is often indiscernible. But Boon's exploration of this cross-over between cultures is subtly evident in the dancer's dress, the martial-arts like movement of the Singapore-based dancers and the Pacific melody sung by one of the Black Grace dancers.

The nine dancers sprint around and off the stage, using their limbs in fast, forceful, unhindered movements that leave no doubt as to their physical strength. They move in and around each other in a seemingly un-choreographed manner that is in all likelihood carefully pieced together in a raw display of contemporary dance stripped bare.

The movement in the second piece, Another Letter from the Earth, displays a more purposeful choreography to narrate tales of grief, loss and death. Choreographer Neil Ieremia explores the journey of five lives facing death.

It is a haunting, yet eerily beautiful piece that plays with traditional-sounding Maori karakia intermittently ringing out as the 12 dancers move in and out of synchrony with each other. The movement displays a greater lyricism that nevertheless maintains its unhindered contemporary edge. The lighting design adds a three-dimensional effect to the piece that serves to deepen its visual resonance making it more than a show about movement, but one all about the colour, the sound and the shapes intertwined.

What: Changes

Where & when: SkyCity Theatre tonight, 6.30pm, tomorrow, 8pm

- NZ Herald

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