Black Grace Dance Company at Alinghi Base

By Reviewed by Bernadette Rae

Neil Ieremia gives a hilarious insight into the difficult process of whittling down an intense decade of choreographic creativity for one celebratory programme, in one of several video sequences that run through the show.

Filmed in a blotchy, half negative style, that gives the sequence a bizarre, nearly nightmare quality, he walks through a house populated with familiar characters: Sean MacDonald in angel wings, Sam Fuataga and Jeremy Poi in those iconic, satin going-out suits, The Rabbit ...

Neil huddles under his bedclothes, feverish with nostalgia.

In another recorded segment he pays homage to those who have been part of Black Grace over the years, reciting a long list of names that echo off into the rafters, though many are still beside him in the flesh, at this definitive dance party.

MacDonald, Fuataga, and Tamihana Paurini have been there since the earliest days. Taiaroa Royal is back for this season and Ueta Siteine has rejoined the company after several years away.

The programme consists of seven works. Ieremia has chosen well. First up is Hand Game, which premiered in 1995. The guys clap, kick and slap out intense and complex Pacific rhythms with awe-inspiring dexterity and perfect timing, and sing like angels.

It is a fantastic measure of Black Grace's ensemble strength, focus and pursuit of perfection.

Then comes the quartet Deep Far, created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 1998, and showing Black Grace in lyrical mode as they dance a contemporary prayer for rain.

An excerpt from New Religion, Ieremia's opus on rugby union, is accompanied by Shakespearian monologue (performed by guest artist Chris Hobbs) and Mozart. It premiered in 2000 and shows Black Grace in full flight, testosterone power and slow-motion masculine magic.

Human Language and Lausae (Tapulu Tele) from Surface were created in 2002 and 2003 and illustrate the depth of Ieremia's latest works. These works also feature female dancers for the first time and watch that Abby Crowther go.

Ieremia's work with UrbanYOUTHMovement is represented by Slings Selection, a gorgeous aerial dynamic, and the evening closes with Fast Bach, as fresh and spectacular now as it was in 1995.

It has been a fantastic decade and a fantastic evening of great dance. Black Grace, at 10, proves again it is a force to be reckoned with.

Now, look out world.

10, A Decade of Works by Neil Ieremia
Black Grace Dance Company at Alinghi Base, Viaduct Basin. Until Aug 3.

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