In the FRESH showcase at Tempo Dance Festival 2014, the communication of ideas through the dancing body is still the primary focus of this new generation of dance artists, but the ways in which that body dances are divergent.
SECTA by Perri Exeter is performed by seven members of the newly formed Trip the Light, with polished, rhythmically driven ensemble work presenting a tight group bound by a shared commitment and identity. They are staunch, resolving conflicts by shutting them down quickly, the men tending to dominate over the women, and it is almost impossible for any one of the group to break free.
Input/Output explores a related theme, the near-impossibility of avoiding compliance with powerful demagoguery, with dancer-choreographers Paul Edward Wilson and Kayla Paige changing the mood, rhythms, and gestural emphases of their movement to match the themes of powerful speechmaking in the sound track from Charlie Chaplin's movie The Great Dictator. Ultimately, despite their malleability, they are unable to break free.
In the refreshingly playful Cued In, by contrast, four young women from Dunedin's Lizzie Hewitt Dance (LiHDA) relish their freedom to choose, with three accepting the almost randomly changing instructions from the fourth which determine their actions. The specified movement vocabulary and phrases comprise an array of unusual, often incongrous movement combinations, plus contributions from the audience, and the resultant "dance" is enjoyed by audience and dancers alike.
"Friendship, failure and gratification" are in focus in Life! Death! Prizes!, danced by Lucy Marinkovich and Rose Philpott and choreographed by Marinkovich and Anita Hunziker, There's virtuoso gumboot dancing and a torrent of falling and getting up again, interplay with two bemused audience volunteers, changing of clothes, awarding of prizes and some banalities, all coordinated to share with the audience an authentic experience of life's messiness.
The vigorous, emphatic, disciplined sequences of Rongo, choreographed by Kura Te Ua and Beez Ngarino Watt for five members of their haka theatre company Hawaiki Tu, leave no room at all for life's messiness. A planting ritual provides the core, with earth carefully furrowed and symbolically planted, and the assistance of Rongo (the Maori god of agriculture) is invoked. Both Rongo and the planters then dance back over the newly sown ground, which one might think detrimental to the future crops, however, that is integral to the ritual which is presented.
Memory House by Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer-choreographer Loughlan Prior and director Ryan Fielding, presents an exquisitely filmed series of encounters between pairs of dancers and one soloist rehearsing in the studio, intercut with sequences of them flitting through in the corridors of a large abandoned building dressed as if returning from a high class ball. As it turns out, however, the dancers are a figment in the mind's eye of an elderly composer of ballet music (Sir Jon Trimmer), caught in the act of reconciling his vision of dancing bodies with the score he is working on.
What: Tempo Dance Festival 2014 presents FRESH
When: Q Theatre Loft
Where: 9 October 8.30pm