This year's Tempo Dance Festival opened with two programmes in very contrasting styles - Tuakana, featuring sparkling kapa haka and Maori contemporary dance and from an almost entirely new generation of outstanding practitioners, and the Footnote Forte Season, featuring works by largely mid-career choreographers who have a long association with Footnote Dance Company.
Tuakana's beautifully arrayed opening ensemble segued into a highly symbolic duet of shifting relationships from Moana Nepia's multimedia work Whero, beautifully danced by himself and Carol Brown.
Ancestral/personal stories were at the heart of two standout works from rising choreographers, Tia Reihana's Caravan of kumara and a handful of korero and Jared Hemopo's Taonga, while Kura Te Ua's haka theatre work Tangaroa was full of seabirds and dolphins flowing and flying exultantly over the waves.
Footnote's six dancers gave their full commitment to every work, and seemed to thrive on the rich challenges they faced. They danced with vivacity to mostly Kiwi pop in Lucy Marinkovich's nightclub-dance scene focused Vile Bodies, and became atomised, insecure individuals in Kristian Larsen's (An Ironic Dream Of) A Common Language, set to an ambient score by Sam Hamilton.
In Lyne Pringle's Beautiful Prison three of the women luxuriated in full-bodied, weighted, circling dancing reminiscent of waltzing, while the fourth seemed trapped in a driven kind of existence in which her real nature was denied; and in Michael Parmenter's deconstructed tango duet Absence, the dancers seemed accompanied by their own dancing ghosts.
Maria Dabrowska's Rabbit Brain Terrain was a duo for the company's two men, Manu Reynaud and Levio Cameron, set to a score by composer Takumi Motokawa, full of rich characterisation communicated entirely through the most astonishing array of bodily expressions.
At times it was hard to decide whether the dancers represented split personas sharing a single body, displaced twin souls, or a man and his shadow self.
What: Tempo Dance Festival
Tuakana: Rangatira Auditorium, Q Theatre
Footnote Forte Season: Rangatira Auditorium, Q Theatre