The Prime Cuts choreographic showcase launched the Tempo Dance Festival's second week in fine style with five new dance works which were a delight to experience, presented by some of our most accomplished performers.
Former New Zealand Ballet soloist Geordan Wilcox danced smoothly to the music of Sinead O'Connor's Just Like You Said it Would Be, playing off the lyrics in key moments to give his choreographic debut just a hint of drama.
He flowed rhythmically through sequences of movement littered with spins, rolls and leaps punctuated by an insouciant signature double pirouette-into-a-fall which made this dance very much his own.
Former Company Z member Benny Ord returned from dancing in Britain to present Snapdragon, a stylish postclassical virtuoso solo choreographed by Timothy Gordon to a baritone saxophone and percussion-free jazz track by Miriama Young.
Like the music, the dance made use of extended techniques, with waves of varying rhythm washing the dancer unhurriedly along multiple pathways through the space. Movements were always crisp, clean, precise, controlled, with high extensions and intricately articulated fine details.
Leading contemporary dancer Liana Yew made her choreographic debut with Kiwi: the Return of the Long Lost Relative, a work in progress in which she starts to explore her Chinese heritage.
A slideshow presents her parents and grandparents, her dancing childhood self appears in video and audio recordings, and video provides footage of her family's ancestral home in southern China.
A soundscore by Joshua Rutter provides the background for the dance, effectively evoking the shock of racism and the challenge to find a larger identity. Against the projected backdrop, the black over red-clad dancer is at times almost invisible; at other times she is a fierce, warrior-like figure, whirling in assertion of her right to self-determination.
Clare Luiten's improvised solo Navigate provided a contrast to her recent group work, Notes on Lying. Accompanied by the ticking of a metronome which sat on the stage, with a section of her face painted to match the patterning on her short silk tunic, and shafts of light coming from the side to cast dramatic shadows, she had an almost a shaman-like presence as she restlessly crossed and recrossed the stage.
A teaser for Lily, the forthcoming work from choreographer Lyne Pringle and Bipeds Company partner Kilda Northcott, closed the programme, providing a heady and hilarious insight into the life of long-serving Dunedin doyenne and ballet teacher Lily Stevens.
Warmly received, this work vividly recreated dance classes, concerts and competitions from the 60s and 70s, managing to tell many stories while offering glimpses into Lily's life, and whetting the appetite for the completed work which will tour next year.
It delightfully incorporated local ballet students into the closing scenes, with everyone in burnt orange Grecian tunics and with Lily showering them with flowers.