By DENISE MONTGOMERY



Footnote Dance company has been around a long time, but New Zealand's only repertoire contemporary dance company is anything but old hat.



Footnote began in Wellington in 1985, founded by dancer/choreographer Deirdre Tarrant, who is still company director. These days each of the six dancers works for 10 months of the year, with up to 20 weeks on the road performing anywhere from small halls in the provinces to city venues such as Sky City Theatre where they stage Banding Together 2002 on Saturday.



Tarrant says the secret to the company's longevity is that it taps into the creative inspiration of New Zealand choreographers and musical talents for each production. New Zealand composers are commissioned to do all the music for Footnote. Banding Together features seven works by four choreographers and 10 composers. Included is the premiere of You Wait by Tarrant, with the music of Wellington reggae/dub band the Black Seeds.

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"You Wait is a fun and funky piece that conveys the idea that hope springs eternal," says Tarrant. "It's totally accessible."



There's also a retrospective of three Michael Parmenter works (Bhakti, Tantra and Fields of Jeopardy) and the premiere of a new piece, For the Time Being. This features the music of John Psathas, whose Double Concerto for Piano, Percussion and Orchestra will be performed at the gala concert at the Commonwealth Games next month.



Raewyn Hill's Trio



3, with music by Nick McGowan, is described by Tarrant as a strongly lit, emotional piece about personal boundaries.



"It's about all those things that stop us doing what we really dream of."



Whiri Koka-Whiri Tangata, by Merenia Gray, explores the theme of unification of earth, people and the soul and is a combination of Maori music and modern dance.



"There's a range of different types of dance and music," says Tarrant. "You will love six out of seven pieces - you may love them all, of course - but at the very least the other one will make you wonder."



For the past few weeks Footnote Dance has been helping with the arts curriculum at Ponsonby, Mangere Bridge and St Kentigern's primary schools. Working with schoolchildren has been a big part of Tarrant's mission to make modern dance accessible.



"It's absolutely essential to the art form to work with children," she says. "You don't just say you've got an art form that in any way relates to the country you live in - it has to relate to the children of that country."