INEXHAUSTIBLY COMMITTED DANCING
Footnote Dance Made in New Zealand 2013
Direction and Choreographic Design: Sarah Foster-Sproull
Music: Eden Mulholland
Lighting Design: Jen Lal
Dramaturgy: Andrew Foster
at Opera House, Wellington
From 21 Aug 2013 to 22 Aug 2013
Reviewed by Jillian Davey, 22 Aug 2013
The beginning of the end of Footnote's Made in New Zealand programme started last night. There have been six tours of works by the likes of Malia Johnston, Claire O'Neill, Ross McCormack, and many others, set to music by a range of Kiwi musicians. Last night, at the Wellington Opera House, the seventh tour kicked off.
This was the first time a full-length work has been on offer in Made in New Zealand (there have been several other full-length works presented by Footnote of course). And full it was. Sarah Foster-Sproull's "Colt" is a highly physical, and at times, maniacal look into ritual, cultism, and brain washing. The title's ambiguity (the programme notes declare it can be a gun, a horse, or a toy gun pointed at a horse.. . it even sounds a bit like "cult") seems impossible to link, yet at by the end, it cleverly does. It has religious references for sure, but the work examines the proselytized ideals behind a community of religious fanatics more than the religion itself. ..this religion being non-specific and all-encompassing. In the case of "Colt" it's represented sometimes by a deeply resonating, and demanding voice, and at other times, by an almighty unicorn goddess espousing love, community, and blind acceptance. This goddess has hints of the Madonna, Kali, and a Mother Earth figure. It sounds off-the-wall, and it is, but it's one of the great shocking moments that the work needed to survive its length.
The work flowed from vignette to vignette without any hesitation (or hint of exhaustion) from Footnote's six dancers. Their commitment to every move and phrase was impressive. There were brief moments where an inclusion seemed surplus to need, making me think the only reason it was included was to give each dancer the showcase they were due. I would have preferred the exclusion of some duets and trios in favour of a deeper look into the more poignant moments. For example, (and I'm trying not to give too much away) when the gun finally did emerge I expected a great tension and a huge bang to make the audience jump. It didn't quite make it to that point.
If this is the last of Made In New Zealand before Footnote changes its artistic direction, I hope it's not the end of "Colt". I'd love to see it again in a year or so with a bit of development. And like a strange, compelling book you love to read over and over again, I'm sure the audience, and perhaps the performers too, would find new details and new ways of approaching the subject.
Final thoughts: 75 minutes of inexhaustibly committed dancing, a strange and wonderful look at some strange and heavy topics, and clever (if not surreal) use of props to bring it all together.
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See also reviews by:
Ann Hunt (The Dominion Post);
Bernadette Rae (NZ Herald);