There is no complacent sitting back comfortably to watch Alexa Wilson's explosive and challenging choreography The Status of Being, made on the company's very new quintet of five impressive young dancers: Emma Dellabarca who projects an anchoring calmness in a situation which is never calm; Alexandra Ford, who whips and sizzles like a pocket rocket on speed; intelligent seductress Lana Phillips; cock-a-hoop Emmanuel Reynaud and cuddly Kosta Bogoievski.
For a start, the usual seat settle is deranged by a migraine-inducing light directed into the auditorium and over the following hour the house lights are frequently raised, the audience surveyed and the dancers explode from the stage to become part of the audience or to run the aisles.
Wilson is wildly obsessed with "questioning" and found inspiration for the current work in Slovenian Marxist, Slavov Zizek's book, Violence and particular his chapter on "Divine Violence."
The Status of Being is accordingly a form of assault on multiple levels, intellectual and physical. The soundtrack blasts through nine different artists. The dancers are attired in a devilish red, except when they get mutually naked in a rare moment that speaks of intimacy, vulnerability and trust. Images acted out from our television screens range from a coffin being carried through a gun-waving throng, a single figure in a dance of triumph on top to the all-powerful pop star manipulating his adoring masses, to the strangling of a similar "celeb" in a multi-noose of media cables. John Banks defining an agonisingly impoverished childhood is projected on to a wobbly screen. My question then was why did a section of comfortably affluent-looking young women respond with such heehaw and laughter?
Three separate pieces give three overviews of our world. There are texts and tweets, some of which are revealingly funny. There goes the sixties revolution, there an obedient populace marching in ordered lines.
At show's end the Big Question is which segment defined the past, the present, the future? Hard call. Then the company performs a fourth piece, a rearrangement of bits already seen. It may hold some resolution but I am not sure. I will have to download some Zizek.
And that may be the point made, after all.
What: The Status of Being
Who: Footnote New Zealand Dance
Where: Tempo Dance Festival