IN FINE FETTLE
Made in New Zealand 2012 - Footnote Dance Company
Choreographers: Ross McCormack, Claire O’Neil, Malia Johnston and Sarah Foster-Sproull
Composers/Producers: Jason Wright, Riki Gooch, Eden Mulholland, Rowan Pierce and Andrew Foster
at Opera House, Wellington
From 12 Jun 2012 to 13 Jun 2012
Reviewed by Greer Robertson, 14 Jun 2012
United in its quest to create and perform dance made on these shores, Footnote mounts the 6th and the last in the series of Made in NZ under the Directorship of Deirdre Tarrant. After 26 years at the helm, Tarrant continues to drive her dream and leaves the dance company in fine fettle for the next director to further grow her legacy. Having nurtured and molded a solid base of structure, a passion to strive, coupled with a forever pitch to thrive, Footnote lives on.
Four new works by New Zealand choreographers are presented by six proficient and passionately committed dancers. Undauntedly, they give their all. And all in attendance marvel at the honed physicality and consummate technique the dancers display.
First up is “Trance like Happiness” with choreography by Sarah Foster-Sproull, based upon her experience and recent travels to Israel. Raw noise, chanting prayers and market-place clutter cut the air, instantly identifying the off-shore culture. Slowly, a beat is added and the clipped concise angst of the dancers' repeating moves find purpose. Blind faith permeates into hidden, held-back happiness without any exuberant outward display of joy. Is this a deliberate cultural stance? What is happiness?
Superbly in sync, the dancers culminate in a strong visual state of unity and support with arms and hands cleverly and artistically placed on the one who will survive.
A change of flavour, a change of pace and it is onto the second piece “Southern X” with choreography by Claire O'Neil. This is a project with a lot going on. It spans north to south, east to west, one to another, together and apart, calm to turbulence, city into bush. Phew, no wonder I had trouble keeping on the makers track? Less is sometimes more.
Freshly clad in colourful, everyday clothes designed by Fidget Co, the dancers move across the ample stage space changing pace and style with almost every move. Dancer Levi Cameron is a definite stand out with fluid dexterity.The spoken word is used to punctuate the moving atmosphere. These verbal cumbersome moments seem to jar the flow as it is often difficult for dancers to achieve and maintain, if not professionally trained in voice projection, enunciation and breathe control. Was this jarring intentional perhaps?
“[SEX]” with choreography by Ross McCormack is a piece with four dancers exploring a physical relationship based on a quote from Rosalie Cortass, “Ecstasy, Sex, Dance…. Separate these words and you've split the atom.”
Two couples separately demonstrate clever entwining partnering skills as McCormack manages to establish and maneuver the intent to devour another human being through longing, loving touch. This piece at times is uniquely refreshing as one can physically see a thought before it transcends into an emotional state, before it becomes an actual dance move. In this way, “[SEX”] stands separate from the other works where the move often makes feelings happen after the fact.
Bold at times, subtly layered at others, it commands your interest.
Finally “In Pieces” with choreography by Malia Johnston.
Material input is also created from the Footnote dancers where several ideas were interpreted. Take apart, fall apart, trip, fall and exit being their words for dance direction. Pleasing expansive breadth of movement is shown in flowing black and white attire with costume co-ordination by fellow dancer Lucy Marinkovich. Good sharp contrast lighting is a welcome effect. The accompanying music of abrasive electronic sounds mingled more pleasantly when piano and strings were added to the mix.
All in all, a dance marathon and the dancers and “[SEX]” are the winners.
A firm, physical triumph across the finish line, Made in NZ.
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See also reviews by:
Jonathan W. Marshall
Roxanne de Bruyn