Three richly detailed and strongly contrasting works make up the New Zealand Dance Company's new triple bill, Kiss the Sky, providing absorbing experiences for the audience.

Sigan, by Korean composer/choreographer Kim Jae Duk, is precise and controlled with sharply angled elbows and spiralling torsos, deep lunges and rapid thrusts, sustained poses and blur-speed, high-kicking turns. As if they are martial arts practitioners testing one another, the sequences grow steadily more challenging.

Accompanied by electronically treated sounds sampled from traditional Korean drums, large and small gongs, the pace, intensity and tension steadily builds until the final moments bring everything to an exultant climax.

The seven stars of Matariki shine down at the start of Sue Healey's immersive work The Seasons Retouched, the first in a series of extraordinary images drawn from the natural world to dapple the stage. Thirteen musicians from the Blackbird Ensemble play Max Richter's Recomposed, a gloriously reconceived version of Vivaldi's famous Four Seasons; Healy's choreography lyrically evokes the mood and energy of the music in movements which reference the nature-inspired dancing of Isadora Duncan, celebratory seasonal folk dances and pastoral rituals, melding magically with the projections by Shawn Madgwick. Light and sound, imagery and motion fuse to produce a sensory overload.


There's a surreal sense of incarceration and intense eccentricity which is communicated in Australian Stephanie Lake's If Never Was Now, a series of often grotesque exchanges among the company's seven dancers on a constantly transforming surface covered by white polystyrene beads.

Accompanied by, at times, irritating electronic sound sequences by composer Robin Fox, the extraordinarily detailed contortions of face and body provide an almost encyclopedic reference set of involuntary human grimaces and uncontrolled expressions. It's a disquieting experience.

The rousing cheers which greet the final bows are recognition of the versatility, virtuosity and artistry of NZ Dance Company dancers (Chrissy Kokiri, Carl Tolentino, Xin Ji, Breanna Timms, Emily Adams, Katie Rudd and Lucy Lynch) and the excellence of the design and production teams.

What: Kiss the Sky by NZ Dance Company
Where & when: Bruce Mason Centre, until Saturday
Reviewer: Raewyn Whyte