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Latisha Sparks - photo Stephen A'Court
Latisha Sparks - photo Stephen A'Court
The Residents - New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season 2014
Director: Victoria Columbus
Student Choreographers: Jeremy Beck, Tessa Hall, James Wasmer, Paige Shand, Amanda Mitrevski, Michael Ramsay, Mark Semple, Roymata Holmes, Eliza Sanders, Lauren Byrne

at Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington
From 16 May 2014 to 24 May 2014
[1 hr]

Reviewed by Pip E-Lysaah, 17 May 2014

It's the NZ School of Dance and the venue is clean bright and extremely professional, I guess as one expects, but retaining an atmosphere of eagerness and fun, the young and beautiful are here as are the artist  creme de la creme, and me ... but we all share the joy of anticipation:)
As someone who has studied choreographic technique, this event was a treat, I saw techniques I had read about brought to life, none more poignant for me than 'The Game' choreographed by Tessa Hall, possibly a little esoteric for some, but exciting for me.  There was some explaining to my companion post-show, that it was in fact partially improvised, and yes some things were planned, but we the audience participated in its creation.  I especially loved this piece, thank you Tessa.
But away from things dear to my heart and onto the Show.  The deconstructed stage environment with its stairs and doors and 3D like views through doorways was quite ingenious and provided a rich staging environment without being too messy for the eye.
Each choreographed piece followed seamlessly one into the other, I suspect in part due to Victoria Columbus, the Director. It must be quite the challenge to take the stories of ten unique people and entwine them into something that showcases not only their choreographic work, but creates a complete visual feast for the audience.
The evening roller-coasted well, traveling from a safe level through some sparks of creative fire and then leading ever upward to the finale item.  The dancers themselves, both The Residents choreographers (the Level 3 Contemporary students) and the Level 2 Contemporary Major students acquitted themselves well with their physical dance ability.  Their hard work and effort to this work extremely clear.  I expect as the Season goes on these performers will draw down deeper into their characters and break the third wall between them and us, their audience; I'm tempted to go back and see the last night.  Please don't read that wrong, they all performed fantastically, but some truly held their presence and you could feel it throughout room and some remained at the edge of the stage, unsure of the final commitment.  Please never be afraid of what the audience will think, as long as you make them feel :)
Watch out for Michael Ramsay, his storytelling in "Supreme Arcitecture [sic]" was clear and beautifully uncomfortable; and perfectly followed by Paige Shand's "In The Mood", but Amanda Mitrevski's "Line" took me to the edge of my seat and had me hold my breath, thank you, and thank you to Mason Kelly and Tessa Hall who made that look flawless and easy.  But if you go, don't read the blurb for the finale piece "Fasnet", wait until after you have watched it, I believe this piece works with no explanation and is best left for you to take your own interpretation before reading what its about.
Some items in "The Residents" will make you squirm, some giggle, some look away, but whatever you do, appreciate the work that has gone into creating these pieces. These young choreographers have put a little piece of themselves out there for us to enjoy, so please do enjoy it!
My advice, go see  The Residents and be amazed at the artistic output of our young choreographers.
Oh and one last thing, I loved the T-Rex :)

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See also reviews by:
 Ann Hunt
 Briar Wilson