And Then It Moved
08/10/2013 - 08/10/2013
15/10/2013 - 15/10/2013
15/05/2013 - 25/05/2013
The New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season titled ‘And Then it Moved’ introduces ten new choreographers who are bringing new works of contemporary dance to the stage.
Created by contemporary dance students in their third year of full-time study at the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD), ‘And Then it Moved’ is the result of four intensive months of preparation. In addition to workshopping new dance pieces, the group of young choreographers have collaborated with professional musicians and technical students from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School to make the show.
“Many of the students are using props to change the environment in unexpected ways,” explains artistic coordinator of the show, Victoria Colombus. “They are using everything from buckets to the beans from beanbags, to fans, lamps, mirrors and books to help form individual insular worlds. Some of these worlds are edgy and almost cult-like, while some are much more delicate and internal.”
For the first time, NZSD is breaking some of the traditional boundaries of performance by manipulating the environment, taking the audience on a journey that will move them both conceptually and physically.
“The students are creating completely new pieces that bring their passion, technique and talent to bear. In effect, the students are knocking on the door and we are asking the audience to open up and let them in,” said Victoria.
In another first, the choreographers are collaborating with live musicians. The musicians are not just onstage, but are contained within the choreography. Katie Rudd, one of the student choreographers, is working with Flo Wilson, a New Zealand School of Music student, to create the sound-scape for her piece.
“Flo is a vocal looper, which means she records herself singing live during the performance and then replays that, layering and layering different vocal rhythms and phrases,” said Katie. “She can be really reactive to what’s happening onstage and I’m really excited about having the music embody what’s physically happening live in the space.”
“Choreographic Season is an amazing opportunity for us to explore both our own individual movement vocabularies and things that are relevant to us as young people,” said Sarah Gatzonis, another student choreographer
All the third year students involved in ‘And Then it Moved’ will take up secondments with professional companies during their final year of study. The companies include some of Australasia’s most impressive names in contemporary dance, including Sydney Dance Company, Expressions Dance Company, Australian Dance Theatre and Dancenorth in Australia, and New Zealand Dance Company, Footnote Dance, and Atamira in New Zealand.
In yet another innovation for the School, ‘And Then it Moved’ is one of the success stories of the new Boosted arts crowd funding website. As of Wednesday 17 April, $3,845 had been donated by 38 donors. For more information see http://www.boosted.org.nz/projects/choreographic-season-2013.
The New Zealand School of Dance has been invited to take ‘And Then it Moved’ to Auckland for Tempo Dance Festival and to The Body Festival in Christchurch
Programme – New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season 2013
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Choreographer Camillo Baracco
Music Composed & performed by Charley Davenport and Jeremy Beck
Lighting Designer Shannon Brosnan
Dancers Alexandra Ford, Lana Phillips, Eliza Sanders, Camillo Baracco, Michael Ramsay, James Wasmer
2. Are We There Yet?
The age old question experienced by all as we explore the difficulties inherent in life’s journey and how we all need support to succeed.
Choreographer Alexandra Ford
Music Thomas Press; Gobbledigook by Sigur Ross; Salvador by Lokai
Lighting Designer Shannon Brosnan
Dancers Lauren Ellis, Omea Geary, Tessa Hall, Amanda Mitrevski, Madeleine Powell, Isabella Wilson, Riley Baldwin, Jeremy Beck, Michael Gudgeon, Mark Semple
3. Two of You
“They slipped briskly into a hostility from which they never recovered.”
Choreographer Hollie Mason
Music Composed & performed by Charley Davenport
Lighting Designer Staci Knox
Dancers Paige Shand, Michael Ramsay
4. One of Them
An individual’s plight for self-expression amongst the rigid values, beliefs and expectations of a group.
Choreographer Luigi Vescio
Music Thomas Press; Star Crackout by Hudson Mohawke
Lighting Designer Kelly Kiwha
Dancers Katie Rudd with Lauren Byrne, Lauren Ellis, Tessa Hall, Emma Martin, Hollie Mason, Amanda Mitrevski, Paige Shand, Isabella Wilson
5. Hear What You See
The intuitive relationship between live music and movement and how both are integral to the process – influencing and complimenting each other.
Choreographer Lana Phillips
Music Composed & performed by Charley Davenport and Isabella Wilson
Lighting Designer Shannon Brosnan
Dancers Lauren Ellis, Omea Geary, Alexandra Ford, Hollie Mason, Amanda Mitrevski, Lana Phillips, Paige Shand, Riley Baldwin, Camillo Baracco, Jeremy Beck
Through a journey of blinded commotion, how does one leave their mark?
Choreographer Katie Rudd
Music Composed & performed by Flo Wilson
Lighting Designer Kelly Kiwha
Dancers Camillo Baracco, Michael Gudgeon, Michael Ramsay, Mark Semple, James Wasmer
INTERVAL – 15 minutes
7. Reality Cheque
[ree-al-i-tee, tel-uh-vizh-uhn]. noun
A popular genre of television programming in which ordinary people or celebrities are either continuously filmed and/or put in extraordinary situations, and/or put up against other contestants in specific challenges. These programmes are designed to be dramatic and entertaining rather than informative. Reasons for popularity include; the joy in watching the misfortune of others, the thrill in the chance of winning money or a desirable prize, and the promise of instant fame.
Choreographer Michael Gudgeon
Music The Price is Right theme tune; Down in Mexico by The Coasters; Power Pill by Aphex Twin; Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews; Window by The Album Leaf
Lighting Designer Kelly Kiwha
8. Solo for Nine
Uh oh – one spotlight, nine dancers. As dancers we do whatever it takes to be in that beam of light that illuminates our unique qualities and oddities. However the only problem is, so do eight other people at the same time…
Choreographer Riley Baldwin
Music Plastic Star by Byetone; Plastic Star Sleeparchive (Remix) by Byetone and Sleeparchive; Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds
Lighting Designers Kelly Kiwha, Staci Knox
Dancers Alexandra Ford, Lana Phillips, Emma Martin, Hollie Mason, Katie Rudd, Paige Shand, Riley Baldwin, Camillo Baracco, Michael Gudgeon
9. What Are You Doing?
Innocent youthful bliss, why is it lost and what will you do to find it?
Choreographer Emma Martin
Music I Feel Good by James Brown; The Wilhelm Scream by James Blake; Don’t Worry be Happy by Bobby McFerrin; Dex by edIT
Lighting Designers Shannon Brosnan, Staci Knox
Dancers Lauren Byrne, Tessa Hall, Emma Martin, Eliza Sanders, Roymata Holmes, James Wasmer
A delicate balance.
Choreographer Sarah Gatzonis
Music Way Up and Deportation by Gustavo A. Santaolalla, arranged by Thomas Press
Lighting Designer Staci Knox
Dancers Katie Rudd, Camillo Baracco, Michael Ramsay
Buckets go dancing
Review by Kerry-Ann Stanton 16th Oct 2013
Forget a storm in a teacup; with the New Zealand School of Dance you get a snow storm in a bucket along with a sobering lesson in group dynamics.
And Then It Moved aims to explore the dynamic balance between a group and the individual; and explore they do. The show opens with a solo ‘buckethead’ wandering the stage. Her buckets are stacked ten high on her head, hiding her from view. A wet blanket in one corner comes alive and begins the process of the group claiming their buckets. Throughout this piece buckethead is left alone and wanders around variously being ignored or being hit by buckets as they slide across the stage. This sets the scene for what is to follow again and again and again, complete with white buckets and white costumes; nothing and nobody to stand out.
The cohesiveness of the show is supported by transitions that are just noticeable enough to guide us as audience. Michael Gudgeon starts picking at himself and before too long everyone is copying him before turning on him, picking at him and eventually stripping him of his clothes. Lana Phillips separates out to begin her process of drowning, while the group lie in wait before rolling and gathering momentum to sweep over her. Luigi Vescio endures the ‘art of ignore’ before his well-being is dismantled. Somewhat reminiscent of the nursery rhyme ”Ring a Ring o’ Roses … we all fall down”, Alexandra Ford’s touch is enough to knock everyone down and have the tower of buckets fall as well. Leave me out at your peril. And poor old Riley Baldwin just gets taken for granted as he manfully moves dancers from bucket to bucket as the clamour for his attention grows. Three in one go ain’t too bad!
The buckets are a great, simple, playful and easily moved prop. While Emma Martin lip syncs and flaps herself about the buckets act as go-go dancing stands, each go-go dancer gyrates with fixed and forced smiles. Martin eventually sobs her song to death. Hollie Mason’s duet with Camillo Baracco lends hope to the possibility of a good relationship but no, off he strays; no head in the clouds fairy tales here, just heads in buckets, sometimes even heads in buckets in headstands.
There is an expectant hush in the audience at the beginning of the show that is not quite matched by the applause at the end. And Then It Moved works well as social commentary with all the angst and agony of relationships, yet the dancing seems almost to disappear into the story. The dancing is competent and connected to the intention of each choreographer, yet doesn’t quite grab me and hold me. Part of this may be the tension between self-expression and self-sacrifice to the group that this work explores. The music arranged and designed by James Dunlop, provides a soundscape that both integrates and marks each piece.
Special mention of the trio at the end (Katie Rudd, Sarah Gatzonis and Camillo Baracco); what a magnificent spat they enact, sliding in the snow and the two women cracking their blankets at each other like whips. And yet as audience we are left bereft by the lonely sight of one woman curled up in her blanket, left out in the cold.
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A Privileged Window
Review by Toby Behan 09th Oct 2013
And Then it Moved sees the welcome return to Christchurch of the New Zealand School of Dance, last sighted in 2007 with Stitchbirds. We sincerely hope it will not be so long again as it is a pleasure to see these young dancers in full and elegant flight.
The choreographic season occurs as an annual event for students at the School, giving an opportunity for senior students to create works on a group of dancers – a relatively rare outlet for creativity at a time when so much instruction and high-level training is being absorbed into these hungry young artists. The show which was on display last night was not the original form of the choreographic season, however. This version has been re-jigged to include material from the Third Year Solo Project (where students explore movement vocabulary that is ‘specific to them as individuals’) – and so combines student-created solo and group movement throughout the evening.
The term ‘re-jigged’ is unfair – in reality, director Victoria Columbus has done an outstanding job carefully crafting all the various solo elements and group work together into a full-length work that seems completely cohesive and whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is no easy feat – and a careful observer will note the talent, clear artistic thought and flair that Columbus wields to achieve such a feat. The transitions that were necessary to cross from group structure, to solo, and back to group structure were phenomenal – not only merely bridging the gap, but also foreshadowing what was to come, blending, and harmonizing.
Without individual notes on the choreographic works and solos involved, it is difficult to credit individuals within the performance for their specific contribution (more detailed programme notes would be a welcome map). The breadth of movement on display however, was extremely encouraging to see. There is no lack of bravery or inventiveness in all solo material, and it is wonderful to see the students working so hard to become self-aware of their individual movement styles – a necessary platform for professional development.
The group works contained within the programme have an interesting breadth of imagery and scope. Buckets are worn and skimmed across the stage, stood upon, and serve as islands for which the dancers to be marooned on. There are percussive and rhythmic movement sequences performed with great execution – usually in divergent form, and occasionally in unison. The partnering sequences are perhaps the least developed aspect of the evening, with most lifts and supports fairly rudimentary in nature.
With a performance such as this, it is good to bear in mind that popular phrase of today – “It is what it is”. Viewers should not expect to view this show to see cutting-edge experimental work, or a grand-scale contemporary dance exhibition. This is a privileged window into the development of the next generation of dancers at one of the most interesting times of their lives. Professional dancers will nearly all look back on the formative years of their development, many of which would have been at a full-time training institution, and clearly see the beginnings of the artist that they eventually became. It is an exciting time – and the wonderful thing about this performance is that this excitement is infectious – and as an audience member, one cannot help but be caught up. Some of the works clearly show a desire of the students to work with darker or more dramatic material – whilst some steer toward light humour. It is a delightfully varied mix, expertly combined, that makes for a solid and entertaining show.
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Impressive exhibition of skill and talent
Review by Ann Hunt 22nd May 2013
This innovative and enjoyable programme is directed with great flair by Victoria Columbus.
It comprises 10 works by third year contemporary dance students, in collaboration with composer Thomas Press, cellist/composer Charles Davenport and voice artist Flo Wilson, along with Drama School lighting and costume students.
The audience is taken on a journey both conceptually and physically. Sadly, there is not space here to discuss all 10 works.
All were danced with great energy and conviction, the music and lighting were excellent throughout and overall the programme says much for the school’s tutors and the students’ external mentors.
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Stunning, beautiful, inventive, sophisticated
Review by Sam Trubridge 16th May 2013
The New Zealand School of Dance choreographic season for 2013 opened last night at Te Whaea, with a season running until May 25. These ten works by third year students of contemporary dance provide a vibrant showcase opportunity for our choreographers and dancers of the future. Thanks to the excellent direction of Victoria Columbus, the work on show is outstanding beyond the realms of dance-school production and has the style, confidence and sophistication of a professionally choreographed and produced ‘mixed bill’.
Our winding journey into the theatre, and the set-up of the seats already demonstrated a sensitive approach to the space. As the evening progressed, similar decisions in the choreography and staging shared the same careful and thoughtful treatment of all elements of the experience.
The programme starts with Camillo Baracco’s Luce: a piece that centres on the manipulation of several light-bulbs on wheels, featuring an impressive vocabulary of strong athletic leaps, flips and partnering. The rolling light sources expand and contract our visual space, casting giant shadows of the dancers’ wide movements onto the walls. Dancing light and dancing bodies work together wonderfully in this piece, and special mention must go to lighting designer Shannon Brosnan for her sensitive and elegant additions to the choreography.
This same sensitivity to space is expressed in Are We There Yet? By Alexandra Ford – where the walls of Te Whaea become a kind of stage-set our boundary for the eleven dancers to explore. From the moment they enter and collapse in a pile of bodies there is a density to their collection on stage that takes them to the back wall of the space, crawling and scrambling in a mass of bodies against its sheer surface. They separate and disperse, but always maintain this united action, sometimes spreading across the stage with their numbers moving in unison to a fantastic score by Thomas Press. This collectivity is contrasted regularly with the placement of single isolated figures. Finally there is a scene where this contrast between the individual and the group is resolved as, one by one, the group help each other up onto a large black platform. Each lift inevitably shifts the group from below to above, focusing on a different individual as they are born up on the arms of their companions. It is a touching, tender process, to see them one by one passed up to rejoin their group and turn to help another reach the same place.
Two of You by Hollie Masonshifts the focus from collective dynamics to notions of doubleness and the dynamics of the couple, in a duet by Paige Shand and Michael Ramsay. By virtue of some deft use of two large mirrors, these relationships are as much about internal states as they may be about what lies between two people. Thus, Shand squats at the edge of the mirror, half behind it. Her reflection creates an odd, symmetrical homunculus with the half of the body that we can see. Similar visual tricks help to slice the body, or re-present their actions back to us in new shapes and angles. Here the mirror is used almost like a cinematic device or frame that dances as much as the bodies do with their flicking, light, whirling movements of hand, arm, leg and head. The couple become separated, and finally, trapped between mirrors, Shand’s movements disintegrate, breaking down in a world of infinite reflection and introspection.
Books fall from above, slamming to the floor. One of Them by Luigi Vescio begins with this irreverent action, and continues to play between this and contrasting sentiments, where the book is treated as a symbol of faith, dedication, authority, studiousness and privacy. Beautiful sharp movements in unison extend the dancers’ bodies with this object, and I am reminded by Helene Cixous’ statement “We are written daily” in the way that these objects begin to eclipse their identities. With the open book splayed across their upturned faces, they begin to slowly pace the room, and find the doors. This beautiful sequence makes great use of the space, morphing into an endless procession of these readers / walkers / dreamers /sleepwalkers as they pass in through one door and back out through another on the other side of the room. This is a work with strong dramatic imagery and powerful scene-making, with Katie Rudd finally whirling around a circle of open books, pressing her face into them jerking and writhing as she is smothered by their pages.
Hear What You See by Lana Phillips integrates the production of live music with the choreography. The plucking of a violin by Flo Wilson is accompanied by delicate movements that gather dancers together in groups and long chains of linked limbs. These forms that span the stage resemble musical notation, and there is a strong textural quality to this work that contrasts with the others. Bodies weave, roll over one another, form their characteristic chains again, and fall. Limbs sweep, often exploring their orbits in wide gestures and forms. While this work may not have been the most memorable, it was one of the few that focused solely on the body, and what can be expressed through movement alone, and did not rely on the use of props or gimmicks to create an impression. For this reason, it is a quieter and more contemplative work that seeks to explore relationships between physical languages and music.
The last work before the break is Katie Rudd’s Mark: another work that demonstrates how engaged this group is with aesthetic, spatial, and performative implications of their work as much as the choreography itself. This indicates how the teaching of dance in this school continues find the ‘contemporary’ in contemporary dance, producing students who are not just athletically strong and choreographically competent, but also sensitive to relevant concerns in the performing arts today. The use of the venue’s sliding doors and the sparse placement of action, event and image in this piece demonstrates all these elements wonderfully. A man stands in the open doorway with a stack of buckets on his head. He is painted white by four other male dancers. What follows is an aggressive and vigorous piece of choreography using the buckets to run and skate around the space. Their loud percussion and rasping over the flooring is threatening and unsettling. In a final vicious crescendo the painted man’s face is finally revealed from beneath his bucket, and he rolls out of the space into the plaza to some plaintive and haunting vocal work by Flo Wilson.
In this first half one can see that many works have been derived from engaging with a single item that has helped to unlock a dramatic and symbolic power in the works – the mobile lights, the large wooden platform, mirrors, books, a violin, and buckets. However, in the second half a different approach seems to emerge, based more around a certain atmosphere or feeling than any given object or concept. This sequence starts with the anarchic and schizophrenic Reality Cheque by Michael Gudgeon. A suited MC bursts on stage, swaggering on his rubbery ankles with showy braggadocio under swinging spotlights, before being joined by a brightly dressed mob of squealing fans. What follows is a manic montage of saucy commentating to slow ironic dancing, sampling vox pops, pick-up-lines and slogans from the jerky mannequin-like dancers. With game-show sensationalism our MC holds his microphone up to someone eating crisps, the gurgling of a straw in a milkshake, a girl humming along to her ipod, and the silent expressions of a boy looking at a magazine centerfold. The Wipe Out obstacle courses and gladiatorial battles were perhaps a little to obvious, but it ends with a beautifully tender moment where two competitors almost find each other, sharing a personal private moment before the resumption of consumerist chatter and circus antics that pull them apart.
Solo for Nine by Riley Baldwin is an upbeat, high-tempo work, uncompromisingly shaped by a 3×3 grid of alternating squares of light. Fast light changes in this matrix move the dancers quickly from one pool of light to the other as their unison rapidly shifts and re-orders itself each time. It is a demanding piece, requiring split second timing as dancers are plunged into darkness or suddenly find their square in the spotlight again. There are some strong flips, whirling arcs of limbs, and angular movements that emphasis the technical demands of the work. Perhaps there have been rather too many split cartwheels in the evening, but in this work these movements seem to find their place comfortably in the rigorous athletics of fast sound, light and movement.
A knock on the door heralds Emma Martin’s idiosyncratic What Are You Doing? The door opens and there stand a morose band of brightly dressed characters: a girl in a pink dress with a pink balloon, someone in green with green sneakers and a green baseball cap, someone else in a purple night-dress, a girl in a lion costume, a superman shirt… The movement contrasts aimless expressions (reminiscent of Harmony Korine’s Gummo) with deliberate sharp, snappy, staccato dance sequences. This assemblage of personalities are well defined in the choreography, all of whom seem to be dealing with some kind of youth existential crisis. Finally the girl in the pink dress sips helium from her balloon and calls out for the attention of a girl ‘Emma’ in her squeaky voice. Given that the name of the choreographer is also Emma, this could be the character/dancer’s ironic call for approval. Or(since Emma also dances in this piece) the girl in the pink dress could actually be her, calling out her own name for self-approval or affirmation.
The final performance of the evening is reserved for the strongest and most stunning work in the lineup: Sarah Gatzonis’ Teeter, featuring Katie Rudd, Camillo Baracco, and Michael Ramsay. A soft snow falls throughout that brings a wintery, frozen landscape into the work. For the trio of blanketed figures this adds a fragility to their presence in the space, where survival seems at stake, and the threat of exposure seem to lend their actions a tragic edge. Thus, teetering on the edge of some kind of fate they dance together in wide movements that betray an inner warmth or recklessness. The frosty mandolin from Gustavo A Santaolalla’s Way Up and Deportation works perfectly as they gather and run together, collapsing and tangling with one another. As they sweep the space with their bodies or with the blankets, the ‘snow’, made from tiny polystyrene balls, responds to every movement and every air current in the space. Their feathery light movements dance across the black floor, following eddies or suddenly exploding away when a dancer swings their blanket around them or slides across the space. The movements of these thousands of particles seems completely in harmony with the three dancers, so that the overall impression is of a building melancholy and emotion that crescendos wonderfully in a thrashing blizzard of activity in the far corner of the stage.
And Then It Moved is a stunning collection of works by a brave group of new choreographers and dancers. Regardless of one’s experience with contemporary dance these are works that will speak to their audience through the beautiful compositions that have been made with physical wit, meticulous athleticism, and an inventive use of space, light, sound and materials. It is a shame that there is no opportunity or home for work like this in Wellington outside of New Zealand School of Dance / Te Whaea, and that talent like this has to travel to Tempo in Auckland or The Body Festival in Christchurch to find a context. With such rich talent being produced in our capital it is sad that it has nowhere to go, and nowhere to be seen once it has graduated. The wonderful use of the proportions and scale of the Te Whaea venue also hint at another lack in Wellington, of a space that works for dance and with dance to house exciting works like this.
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