A diversity of exhilarating and technically accomplished dance has been presented in the first five days of Tempo Dance Festival 2011, now at its midway point.

With three back to back shows each night at 6pm, 8pm and 10pm, and mixed bill showcases alternating with full length works, there's plenty to choose from, and both the Rangatira auditorium and Loft at Q theatre have been filled by appreciative audiences.

The Tertiary Colours showcase, featuring student and tutor works from around the country, was notable for a series of extremely polished performances from NZ School of Dance students, and excellent ensemble work from University of Auckland second year students in a pre-contact themed work Prima Materia, co-developed with tutor Jack Gray.

Also impressive was the remarkably mature work, What About Me, by first year Unitec students Alisha Anderson and Jarod Hemopo, based on their own experiences of psychological abuse. Subtle use of gesture, and slowly shifting emphases within the cycles of interaction between the two dancers communicated the shifting balance of their relationship and signaled hope for the future.


Christchurch-based Southern Lights Dance Company presented a disparate but well-performed trio of works in their show 2011.

Two works were relatively literal - with a quartet of 20-something women in a bar on a big night out getting slowly drunk in Fleur de Their's Perch; and a predatory older-women-younger-man duet in Venus and Sailor choreographed by Maria Dabrowska.

The third work, by far the most sophisticated work seen all week at Tempo, was the rigorously refined, purely abstract Echo I by German choreographer Riki Von Falken.

Echo I was impressively danced by Julia Milsom, Aleasha Seaward and Hannah Tasker-Poland, with an unhurried, deliberate pace, precise gestures and repeated phrases which slowly mutate over several different sections of the work, and utter absorption into the inky black space in which they move, anchored only by a blue rope which marks one corner of the space.

It felt very much as if the point of the dance was that there is no such thing as personal space, or fixed location. And yet, we can dance.

Footnote Dance Company's highly engaging and physically demanding hour-long Hullapolloi, by contrast, is a postmodern fable about the crushing impact on our lives of capitalism, consumerism and greed, co-developed by choreographer Kate McIntosh and writer Jo Randerson.

Despite being fully enveloped in extraordinarily stretchy, neon-coloured, zipped-up impersonal body suits, the dancers convey highly individual personas as they go about their strange rituals, acquiring more and more stuffing for their suits, seizing any opportunity to acquire, and then suffering the consequences before starting to look for new ways to live.

What: Tertiary Colours Showcase
Where: Loft at Q Theatre
What: 2011 - Southern Lights Dance Company
Where: Rangatira at Q Theatre
What: Hullapolloi - Footnote Dance Company
Where: Rangatira at Q Theatre

- Herald online