The two futures of dance are poles apart, writes Raewyn Whyte

By Raewyn Whyte

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The Absurdity of Humanity: the latest from the New Zealand Dance Company (from left) with dancers Chrissy Kokiri, Eddie Elliot, Carl Tolention and Xin Ji. Photo:  Caroline Bindon.
The Absurdity of Humanity: the latest from the New Zealand Dance Company (from left) with dancers Chrissy Kokiri, Eddie Elliot, Carl Tolention and Xin Ji. Photo: Caroline Bindon.

The New Zealand Dance Company's double bill, The Absurdity of Humanity, brings together two works that offer two alternate visions of the future.

Matter, by Ross McCormack, explores a world inhabited by a small band of people who come across five pole-like structures; Whispers from Pandora's Box, by Lina Limosani, considers the aftermath of opening the mythical Pandora's Box and the impact of the evils let loose on the world.

McCormack has recently returned to New Zealand after a decade of dancing with world-leading contemporary dance company Les Ballets C de la B, based in Belgium. With a substantial series of commissioned dance works already produced in Australia and New Zealand, he has worked intensively with the company's dancers in the studio for the past month, along with the five pole-like structures created as the set for Matter, and composer Jason Wright, with whom he has made seven dance works.

McCormack is collaborative. The composer and the set are in the studio with the dancers as the work is being made.

"I have asked the dancers to think about why they are here in this strangely empty world, what they would do if they came across these weathered poles as they wander through the empty landscape, and the work has developed from there," he says.

"We are creating this work together, and the set and sound score create an environment within which the performance comes to exist. I provide tasks and provocations for the dancers, and help to shape the material they produce."

Whispers from Pandora's Box is a very different concept. By Australian choreographer Lina Limosani, known for her highly theatrical approach and physicality , it examines the darker corners of the human mind and the anxieties of our times through a rapid-fire series of interactions drawn from pop culture, comedy and black humour, slapstick, theatre of the absurd, clowning, zombie and horror movies and TV shows.

Set to carnivalesque music by AlgoRythmiK, Whispers from Pandora's Box demands great stamina and precision from the dancers. They must also create bizarre characters who throw themselves into many macabre scenarios.

Limosani, Australia's 2016 Dame Peggy van Pragh Choreographic Award recipient, says dance can profoundly express the darker side of humanity.

"I invite the audience to witness horror, crime and drama live within a dance context, and also challenge them to open up to the possibility of finding intrigue in the evils behind the works."

What: The Absurdity of Humanity - a double bill, New Zealand Dance Company
Where and when: Q Theatre, August 24-27 (performances at 7.30pm with a 2pm Saturday matinee)

- NZ Herald

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