Review: New Original Dance 2016

Choreographer Jessie McCall.
Choreographer Jessie McCall.

This third annual season of New Original Dance, showcases the choreographies of four nascent dance makers on a cast of five dancers - four brand new to the Footnote company.

Each of the resulting works emerged fully formed after an average of just 10 working studio days. But the result is a programme as luscious and lively as it is interesting and professionally polished in content, performance and presentation.

Jessie McCall's Your Own Personal Exister is a sophisticated standout, with its well-developed enquiry into identify and the pitfalls of personal power - both taken and bestowed.

Cardboard crowns feature prominently: seized, surrendered, sicked-into, ripped and devoured. A lively soundtrack with an eighties vibe is supplemented with voiced-over text, mimed in comic book style by the dancers on stage with stretched open mouths in thrown back heads.

That pictorial style informs much of the movement vocabulary, as crystal clear in meaning as it is entertaining and quirky.

But beneath its seductive topping of light heartedness, the work delivers quite a punch on a subject that involves us all.

The thought-provoking Disarming Dissent, by Sarah Knox, opens under a dramatic wash of camouflage lighting that instantly sets a war-like mood, courtesy of lighting designer Alex Fisher.

Minutes later lighting also creates an under-canvas spirit of cohort and rebellion. A pumping soundtrack explodes in the rhythms of war and the choreography is all about angles and anger and aggressive action.

Until there a subtly wrought change emerges. Shoulders relax and release some of their load. Limbs lengthen. The conflict remains through the soundtrack, but it seems resolution could come differently?

Lucy Marinkovich's sassy Centrefolds is an upbeat study of gender stereotyping and "women-dominant collectives." With a cast of five, two of whom are male and one in possession of a pair of very manly calves and a burly torso, there are inevitable moments of hilarity.

But top marks to Jared Hemopo for holding onto his feminine side in his fifties frock and all. Balaclavas are de rigeur throughout a series of on-stage costume changes for all, depicting a variety of situations which hold the female race in bondage - until the final moment of sweet truth.

Balloons rule in Elephant Skin, Julia Harvie's comic but questioning study of body dysmorphia, and maybe just bodies.

Review

What: NOW 2016, Footnote New Zealand Dance
Where and when: Q Theatre April 15 - 16 then Wellington, Dunedin and Invercargill
Reviewer: Bernadette Rae

- NZ Herald

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