Friday night at Tempo Dance Festival 2013 was all about Footnote's final offering in its Made in New Zealand series. And what a way to go.

Deirdre Tarrant's veteran contemporary company has never looked so good with dancers Alice Macann, Emily Adams, Emmanuel Reynaud, Levi Cameron, Olivia McGregor and newcomer Rose Philpott setting Sarah Foster-Sproull's complex, strange and beautiful choreography alight with six virtuosic performances, set to a gorgeous score by Eden Mulholland and all upon a seemingly magical, luminous white floor gleaming through the mote-laden air.

The Colt theme was clever and multifaceted: from the skittishness of youth in some passages, the awful emergence of the gangster's gun from one dancer's mouth and its use in his final demise, and a play on the New Zild pronunciation of "cult".

For all its manifested beauty - creamy silk-clad bodies creating intensely sculptural shapes between lifts and balances in endless variation - the work has a dark message, a pungent flavour of anger, determined rebellion, repression, spasticity, loss of identity and evil.


Foster-Sproull's measured use of accessories, some words, both spoken, printed and horribly implanted in a flickering, mouth-held lightbox, a magnificent unicorn and a set of wonderful horse-head masks, complete a perfect and compelling performance.

Carnival Hound, with choreography by Maria Dabrowska and directed by Jo Randerson, has taken four years from its Wellington debut, to get to Auckland and proves itself another dark force, performed in this manifestation by the quicksilver Dabrowska, the luscious Mariana Rinaldi and the uber-expressive Alex Leonhartsberger.

An arresting amalgam of the distortion and dislocation of war, channelled from the memories of Dabrowska's Polish mother and the politics of sexual power play and fantasy, the work encompasses deconstructed mannequins, Dabrowska's penchant for cartoonesque movement motifs and a bank of very sturdy chairs. Powerful and impressing.

Fatu Na Toto's most appreciative audience spoke Samoan and appreciated the nuances of Samoan culture - and there were many present, some in tears by curtain call. For the rest, the respect of tradition, the fecundity of a culture's transplanted seeds, and the singing - the gorgeous and heartfelt singing - make this a special experience.