ALCHEMY (2016)

Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

14/10/2016 - 14/10/2016

Tempo Dance Festival 2016

Production Details

Alchemy celebrates the boundless energy of NZ’s tertiary dance students from the University of Auckland, Unitec, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA) and more featuring new, short works created and performed by these emergent choreographers.

Tertiary dance students have the unique experience of living in the ‘dance bubble’ for two or more years while they hone their craft and find their voice as dancers, choreographers and artists. The work produced as part of their journey is an intriguing insight into their process and gives audiences a glimpse at what the future of dance might look like. 

This energetic, well-polished, and almost magical collection of pieces created something unexpected and hugely engaging – Theatreview

This is tertiary dance at its best – sophisticated, cheeky, contemplative and contemporary – Theatreview

…the future of tertiary dance for New Zealand, Aotearoa is bright – Theatreview    

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour

Musings on dance possibilities

Review by Felicity Molloy 15th Oct 2016

Alchemy revels in the introspective outpourings of NZ’s tertiary dance students from Excel Performing Arts, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA), Unitec, University of Auckland and features Freshman’s Dance Crew. Nine works developed for and prior to the 2016 TEMPO Festival occasion by mostly student choreographers and performers produce some musings on alchemy. Alchemy on Wikipedia’s terms aims to “purify, mature and perfect certain objects“.

Tuka is up first – a longer dance, choreographed and executed by a skilled dance soloist, Lomina Araiti – in three parts with baffling patterns of rocks on the floor. Her voicescape babble, sometimes evocative and sometimes just babble arc across her passage of time in a strangely 2-dimensional performative form. 

Untitled is a duet co-created by Lavendar Tuingamala and Nea Brink, soft supple movements swathe the dancers and they mould into and against each other’s body, without sensuality.  

Each new work, holds tight to inner meanings, sometimes hard to discern. The third work, Matou Tala, therefore,seems so much more explicable, obvious in its ancestral form. Tight lines and pointed feet gently cross referenced to a movement education, with soft hips and smiling faces, taking us right back to a gendered, colonised world.

Thinking through notions of experimentation is a way of observing contemporary methods in tertiary dance. Freshman’s Dance Crew choreographer, Hadleigh Pouesi offers up one of the most exploratory dances of the evening – Whakawehenga. Referring to a Maori legend, that of Ranginui and Papatuenuku, was made through restrained shapes, delicate lifts, subtle storytelling and clever choreographic decision making.

What gives a dancer pleasure in performance highlights both the comedic soundscape and caricaturing actions of the trio from MIT in Seeereeissaz. Hardly missing a beat or spending time dwelling on individual sharpness of movement, this is indeed a popular, frolicking, synchronous trio.   

University of Auckland student choreographer, Zoe Nicolson puts together another trio. Passing on is more and less self-absorbed, focusing on movements carved out of class, some lovely deft sequences and partner work installed. Works such as this provide insights into the developing art form on educative terms. Music accompaniment is by rapper Macklemore and producer Ryan Lewis, hip-hop duo from Seattle, Washington – soundtrack BomBom.

H BR WS10:35-36 is a well-polished duet featuring languorous dancers, Terry Morrison and Kura William (Unitec coLAB 3). Somehow unusual and engaging – touching, in both senses of the word, creates an innovative sense of riveting and divided tension.

West Papua has the benefit of input from Unitec graduate Jahra Ragar and Excel’s own Laurent Dunningham who bring craft skills to bear on a convincing and passionate performance by the dancing crew. As much as we can tell the reality of political unrest in a faraway country, this dance is uncertain in its resolution and may benefit from iterations and more interpretations.

Student choreographer, Oliver Carruthers assembles and dis-assembles space – a retrograde of dance movement and spatial effect. A cast of able Unitec dancers slide across the floor in an oddly familiar movement fray, completing their sequence on the other side of the floor. This final dance on an oddly pure, concrete and syndromic evening is Jargon (aptly named).

 NB Credits for recorded music have only rarely been listed in the programme. While production qualities of lighting, sound and costume are all immaculate, there does not appear to be any specific acknowledgments for them in the programme, either. Apologies to the musicians and composers and on the night techy crew for any lack of mention.


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