Three markedly distinct works are set beside one another in Hemispheres, jointly presented by China's Guangdong Modern Dance Company (GMDC) and Footnote New Zealand Dance who are touring the country following performances in China.
GMDC present excerpts from The Spring Tide by WU Chien-Wei. This offers a snapshot of a new generation of optimistic and determined young adults who aspire to a bright future. They are restless, driven, hurrying and scurrying individuals, seizing moments of success, collaborating with others as needed, quick to move from home to the big cities and adapt to city living.
The dancers' movements are fast and fluid, detailed and nuanced, robustly delicate. They go to the floor with ease, flow and float as if they are boneless. They are extraordinarily lyrical, conveying a flickering array of emotions though their bodies.
In what could not be a stronger contrast, Footnote reprises their abstract and mesmerising Elliptical Fictions from 2018 by local choreographer Zahra Killeen-Chance. Their pace is measured, slow and stately; movement is minimal and strictly controlled, with strict lines created by raised limbs, and set against carefully trodden curving pathways. The dancers are sure, secure and unwavering, allowing the audience to become drawn into the ever subtly zooming back projection which eventually swallows everyone up.
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Arresting sculptural images frame the action in Mass Solitude, created by Sarah Foster-Sproull with 14 dancers from both companies. The dancers wear terracotta silk tabards over rich red culottes which leave them free to roll, jump, slump and whirl. Gorgeous lighting by Loe Shee Hoe intensifies the impact of body on body, emblazoning the almost sculptural masses with intense light from above so they seem to be floating against the dark stage.
While Foster-Sproull's movement animates the dancers, it is Eden Mulholland's rhythmically immersive score that drives events along and gets into your blood. Despite his many past successes, this could well be his best-ever score for dance.
Mass Solitude continues Foster-Sproull's exploration of community and ceremonial ritual through dance works, focusing this time on the question of whether an individual can break free from community constraints. Ultimately, this question remains unresolved.
What: Hemispheres – Footnote New Zealand Dance and Guangdong Modern Dance Company
Where: Bruce Mason Centre; now touring to Palmerston North, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington