Review: Taumata, Tempo Dance Festival, Q Theatre

By Raewyn Whyte

Sisters of the Black Crow, by Sarah Foster-Sproull, was one of four well-received works in the Tempo Dance Festival's Taumata.
Sisters of the Black Crow, by Sarah Foster-Sproull, was one of four well-received works in the Tempo Dance Festival's Taumata.

The creative excellence and exquisite performance of four new works collectively titled Taumata brought the final weekend of Tempo Dance Festival 2016 to close in fine style.

Capacity audiences in Q Theatre's Rangatira auditorium greeted these works with resounding applause and heartfelt cheers.

Katie Rudd, Carl Tolentino, Chrissy Kokiri, and Chris Ofanoa, from the NZ Dance Company, delicately flitted and flocked, dipped and darted, perched and preened in Bianca Hyslop's A Murmuration, aptly named for the antics of a flock of starlings which inspired the choreography. A sinuous looping score by Rowan Pierce echoed the spiralling and, at times, swishing moves, appropriately supporting the dancers' antics.

Okareka Dance Company co-artistic director Taane Mete presented Manawa, a solo about the power of the first and last breaths we take, in honour of his mother 's recent death. Delicate lighting by Vanda Karolczak marked his passage across the stage in a series of complex extended phrases with extraordinary detailing and integration of breath.

His sorrow and grief were a palapable presence; a complex score by Paul McLaney added resonance to the different stages in the dancer's journey.

Rose Philpott, Jahra Rager Wasasala, and Grace Woollett, from Foster Group, presented Sarah Foster-Sproull's Sisters of the Back Crow, a tautly intimate, ceaselessly moving, powerful trio co-developed with the dancers. Wearing simple sheaths of black or red, the women appeared to change identity by the moment, from sisters or friends to priestess and goddesses, or perhaps the mythological Furies.

Certainly there was an aura of power invoked and desire at play, of events proceeding and outcomes to be determined, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats. A multilayered score by Andrew Foster, with muffled voices, soughing strings and dense white noise, added to the intensity.

Finally, Laura Jones, William Fitzgerald, Kirby Selchow, Charles McCall, and Leonora Voigtlander, from the Royal NZ Ballet, danced Loughlan Prior's Eve. This was a series of polished vignettes involving extreme geometries of the limbs and some innovative partnering, exploring the power of temptation and the struggle for redemption. Their dancing was set to soaring operatic excerpts, solo piano and spoken poetry, and created an aura of elegance and refinement.

What: Taumata, Tempo Dance Festival
Where & when: Q Theatre, Rangatira; October 15 and 16

- NZ Herald

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