If you'd been in Countdown Dominion Rd just before midnight one night last week you may have seen a lithe young man, possibly in a crisp white shirt and fitted black jeans, twirling his trolley, spinning around it and maybe even contemplating jumping on to it.
Xin Ji wasn't trying to make a mundane activity less ordinary; he's a dancer with The New Zealand Dance Company and was surreptitiously rehearsing for a street ballet which will transform your view of supermarket shopping trolleys.
Trolleys features five dancers and five trolleys which spin, glide, slide and are even picked up and spun in the air. It may come with a "don't try this while out grocery shopping" warning.
It's one of the highlights of Auckland Live's Summer in the Square festival.
Dreamt up and choreographed by award-winning Australian dancer Shaun Parker, Trolleys has been performed all over the world. It makes its NZ debut after Parker and NZDC co-founder and artistic director Shona McCullagh met at an arts market in Korea and got to talking.
McCullagh says Trolleys is fun and playful, but extremely physically demanding, and transforms a menial object into something magical. With a score by composer Nick Wales, the ballet alludes to the social interactions that can happen in a supermarket. Two of the trolleys fall in love; one grapples to find a friend and three others revolt and ignite a dance of anarchy.
NZDC dancers (Carl Tolentino, Chris Ofanoa, Chrissy Kokiri, Katie Rudd and Xin Ji) push, spin, flip and leap off the trolleys. Ji says he's most excited that it's performed outdoors, providing opportunities for people who don't often get to dance shows to see it.
And those who watched the dress rehearsal in Aotea Square were certainly entranced. One elderly man stood spellbound and wiped a tear from his eye; the crowd gasped as the trolleys were lifted up and spun around. Two younger women, a little sullen at first, were soon grinning and laughing. Two bystanders with a shopping trolley even did a quick routine; an elderly gentleman with a walking stick told the dancers he enjoyed it very much but not to sign him up for future performances.
As well as Trolleys, highlights of Summer in the Square include the Massive Nui Ensemble, New Zealand Opera, gigs by Circuit Des Yeux and Weyes Blood from the US, Julia Jacklin and Borneo from Australia plus home-grown favourites Tiny Ruins, Trip Pony and SoccerPractise.
• Auckland Live Summer in the Square is free and runs from December 1 - 23, then January 9- February 24. Trolleys is supported by the Countdown Christmas Food Rescue Appeal. Countdown donates more than $3.5 million of food each year to The Salvation Army and food banks, including $90,000 of groceries at Christmas. Donations will be accepted, in trolleys in Aotea Square, during the show. Customers can make a food donation in-store at their local Countdown or online at foodbank.org.nz.