Boxed set on beating adversity with dance

By Raewyn Whyte

Duncan Armstrong (drums) with Sumara Fraser (at window) star in Drumming like Thunder, an ode to overcoming bullying.
Duncan Armstrong (drums) with Sumara Fraser (at window) star in Drumming like Thunder, an ode to overcoming bullying.

Life-changing moments, caught on film, are the focus of an extraordinary performance series at Mairangi Arts Centre by dance company Touch Compass.

Eight short films reveal a triumph over adversity, and one - Renee Ball's story of paralysis and rehabilitation, is now showing on Air NZ's long-haul flights. Others include, as the basis for their inspiration, bullying, the challenge of Outward Bound's big adventure and a moving tribute from dancer Luisi Faiva to her foster parents, who found ways to help her communicate despite when, early in her life, she could not talk.

The films range from less than two minutes to slightly more than 10 and are continuously shown throughout the day. They were developed by Touch Compass Dance Company performers and participants from mixed-ability community classes, working with film-makers Alyx Duncan and Romola Langa.

Each was filmed inside the company's 2x2m portable wooden DanceBox designed by Ian Hammond. The company has performed inside the DanceBox in streets, shopping centres and theatres throughout New Zealand as well as using it as a set for their short film series.

Alongside the films, a new 35-minute dance work developed for 4-10-year-olds is being presented by Touch Compass for school and kindergarten audiences. All The Way Home features a boy having a big adventure on his red tricycle and the surprising and wonderful situations he encounters while out riding.

Touch Compass' mission is to challenge perceptions about what dance is and who can do it and, after almost 20 years as an inclusive dance company, are known for aerial work and dance theatre developed through improvisation.

The company plans a series of outdoor performances called InMotion to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, with high-tech motion technologies and devices such as Segways, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, skateboards and bicycles.

What: Touch Compass DanceBox Short-film Exhibition and All the Way Home performances
Where & when: Mairangi Arts Centre, until November 13; performances Sunday November 6 and 13 at 2pm. All The Way Home, until November 13, is free but bookings are advisable. Email events@touchcompass.org.nz or ph. (09) 550 6464

- NZ Herald

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