Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

28/08/2018 - 29/08/2018

Aurora Centre, Burnside, Christchurch

22/08/2018 - 22/08/2018

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

16/08/2018 - 18/08/2018

Production Details

Balancing Point is a breathtaking contemporary dance double-bill by Footnote New Zealand Dance. For their major season of 2018, Footnote intersects two hypnotic new dance works by rising New Zealand and Australian choreographers Zahra Killeen-Chance, James O’Hara & Eliza Sanders.

Drawing on her research during a three-month residency in Taiwan in 2017, Killeen-Chance creates a mesmerising world in her work Elliptical Fictions. Grounded in the idea of opposition, Elliptical Fictions presents a continual shift between forces of the body and mind. Lose yourself in the crisp, controlled movements of Footnote’s company dancers: be lifted by the warmth of Emi Pogoni’s sonic landscape.

Influenced by their experience of the disruption that accompanies the international performer’s life, O’Hara and Sanders unite to create a tender ode to returning home. With a virtuosic energy, their new work speaks of elation and comfort. Dunedin musician Nadia Reid, whose first two albums have enjoyed rave reviews globally (including The Guardian and The Observer) uses magical folk stylings to propel the dancers through this enthralling work.

Following on from their highly successful thirteen centre national tour of Search Engine, Footnote New Zealand Dance brings these two new entrancing works together into one evening’s programme with Balancing Point. The captivating Footnote company dancers bring their renowned group artistry to this double-bill season.  

The dancers work together as a finely tuned articulate ensemble.” Tania Kopytko, Theatreview 2018

Their obvious cohesiveness is spellbinding.” Kim Buckley, Theatreview 2018

Te Whaea, National Dance and Drama Centre
16th/17th/18th August


Aurora Centre
22nd August


Q Theatre
28th/29th August


Dance , Contemporary dance ,

80 mins

Contrasting works danced superbly

Review by Sue Cheesman 29th Aug 2018

Balancing Point is a performance by Footnote consisting of two very different works. The Footnote dancers, Georgia Beechey-Gradwell, Tyler Carney, Joshua Faleatua, Anu Khapung and Adam Naughton, have been together since the beginning of 2017 and it shows as they command the space together with authority and commitment to both works.

The first piece, Elliptical Fictions by Zahra Killeen-Chance, demands a different kind of engagement for the audience. This piece is meditative with a slow extended sense of time influenced by Taoist philosophy of yin and yang and Tai Chi Chen. The projected backdrop by visual artist Richard Killeen (Zahra’s father) certainly has us talking – is it wallpaper patterns or a circuit board or a maze or just a black and white reiterative pattern. The detail in the pattern is brought into sharp relief as the projection slowly and constantly zooms in throughout the work. This effect cleverly provokes our curiosity to capture it moving with our dual attention flicking between dancers and screen. As the pattern transforms, performing its own dance, intriguing extra details such as hands and feet appear and disappear. The lighting design by Marcus McShane sets up demarcated stage spaces such as a large circle or squares for dancers to inhabit as well as lighting that forefronts the movement content strikingly.   

This dance begins with the five performers slowly migrating from the edges of the stage to enter a circle of light using exaggerated walking. This develops into heel-toe walking, extending legs both in front and sideways while constantly turning around or through each other forming asymmetrical patterns. The accompanying electronic sound score by Emi Pogoni provides another rich layer, with all three art forms running on parallel trajectories.     

The pace changes and the dancers occupy squares of light performing angular arm gestures. But what makes this interesting is that the light on their bare forearms captures these moving in precise straight-line patterns. This is in sharp contrast to the previous circular movements and very much in keeping with the ideas behind the piece, to reveal how binary opposites are dependent and neither one is all-powerful.  In movement terms, this is seen as an oscillation between two different ideas, curve and line. Throughout the piece, this is very evident in the choreography which morphs back and forth from line to curve movement patterns. Coming full circle, the piece finishes as it began, with a lighted circle.  

The second work, A snail watches particles in sunlight by Australian choreographers James O’Hara and Eliza Sanders, could be described as a playful romp with all dancers frolicking through space initially in unison, changing the formations as they move together across space. There is a collective pulse underpinning the playful movement.

The wings are stripped back to the theatre walls, exposing the side lighting. The piece begins in a very casual way as dancers enter the same way as the audience does, shaking the dance mat and jumping up onto front stage from the audience.

Part way through there is a contact improvisation section in which process and product meld into one. Within this section, you witness the full range of decision-making within an improvisatory structure form — this is not working// just made it// change tack // made it — with the result a beautifully executed movement / lift.  

Giant fans are turned on part way through and the backdrop curtain beautifully billows pleasingly. This heralds a section of hair dancing, a familiar exploration often seen in contemporary choreography. This piece concludes with naked dancers in semi-darkness frolicking through the space.

Nadia Reid’s guitar and folk songs are an interesting choice for this piece, leaving the audience to associate her words with the movement content.

A very contrasting programme showcasing two different works danced superbly by the current five members of Footnote. 


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Rewarding double bill

Review by Dr Ian Lochhead 23rd Aug 2018

The poster for Footnote New Zealand Dance’s latest programme, Balancing Point, shows the company’s dancers poised between earth, sea and sky on Wellington’s rocky southern coast and the idea of finding a balance, either between the opposites that tend to govern our lives or in our relationships with the places in which we live, is an underlying theme throughout the performance. Zahra Killeen-Chance’s Elliptical Fictions, whichopens the programme, is a finely crafted and skilfully judged meditation on the dualities that shape our experiences, whether these are the curved or straight lines of moving bodies, the yin and yang of Taoist philosophy or such elemental oppositions as light and dark. 

The work opens with the dancers wearing sculpturally cut black costumes emerging from the darkness with deliberate treads and entering a circle of light positioned centre stage.  The work unfolds with measured, formal grace, the dancers’ movements largely confined within the illuminated space.  They could almost be monks tracing the patterns of the labyrinths that still survive on the pavements of some medieval cathedrals, their path symbolising the journey of life.  As the work evolves so too does the movement vocabulary, the flowing shapes of the opening sequence being replaced by the angular geometries of the line that has replaced the curve.  The finely calibrated lighting by Marcus McShane, a critical component of the piece, changes with the choreography, each dancers’ angular movements now locked within the restrictive confines of separately illuminated squares.

As a counterpoint to the action on stage another drama unfolds behind the dancers as the projected backdrop, designed by Killeen-Chance’s father, visual artist Richard Killeen, gradually changes with almost hypnotic effect.  What at first appears to be a geometric wallpaper design with an overall pattern in black and white, is gradually transformed by means of a slow, continuous zoom.  As the elements become larger the geometric components soften and a grid-like labyrinthine pattern emerges.  This in turn takes on a biomorphic quality as hands, feet and eyes begin to appear but these too become lost as the black of the lines threatens to overwhelm the white of the ground that defines them.  Yet what began as apparently straight black lines finally eventually ends as a circle that remorselessly expands to fill the entire backdrop, coinciding with the blackout that ends the performance.  While this drama in black and white has been unfolding the dancers have returned to where they started within the illuminated elliptical space of the opening sequence. 

Collaborations between leading avant-garde visual artists, choreographers and musicians were a defining characteristic of dance in the twentieth century; one thinks immediately of Rauschenberg, Cunningham and Cage, but they have been comparatively rare in New Zealand, making this collaboration between father and daughter particularly welcome.  Their contributions combine with the evocative electronic score of Emi Pogoni to create a work that is remarkable for the clarity and precision of its structure. Yet there is also an element of danger in bringing an artist of Killeen’s experience and visual acuity into the theatre since the power of the image that unfolds behind the performers runs the risk of upstaging them.  Elliptical Fictions is, nevertheless, an impressive work that leaves us with the sense that the closer we examine something, the more complex it becomes until it ultimately reveals its own opposite.  

In comparison with the precision and rigour of Elliptical Fictions, the second work in the programme, A Snail Watches Dust Particles in the Sunlight, by Australian choreographers James O’Hara and Eliza Sanders, has an informal, almost improvisatory feel.  Having experienced the peripatetic lifestyle that is common to many in the dance community, O’Hara and Sanders are now resident in Wellington and their work is a response to a more settled existence in a new place. Curiously, however, the work itself evokes an entirely different time and place, the freewheeling era of the Woodstock generation of the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies, with its espousal of peace, love and a return to nature, literally so here as the dancers shed their clothes in the exuberant finale as the light fades across the stage.  Set to the songs of the emerging Dunedin musician, Nadia Reid, whose plangent folk idiom has an almost elegiac quality, the work evolves in an episodic manner as the mood shifts from one song to the next, Reid’s instrumental interludes providing the transitional links. 

Performed on a completely open stage, the work begins with the dancers entering a fully illuminated auditorium before pulling the dance mat forward so that it spills off the stage and into the audience’s space.  The message is clear; we are all a part of this performance.  Part way through fans are switched on to activate the loosely hanging backcloth but if the wind they create is intended to evoke the climate of Wellington there is little real response to this in the choreography itself as the dancers neither resist its relentless force nor appear, with the exception of the final sequence, to embrace its liberating power.

It is very much in the spirit of this piece that Footnote’s current group of dancers, Georgia Beechey-Gradwell, Tyler Carney, Joshua Faleatua, Anu Khapung and Adam Naughton, have now been with the company since the start of 2017 and the cohesiveness of their performances in both works is undoubtedly a product of their collective sense of continuity and community.  Their committed and finely tuned performances do full justice to this rewarding double bill.


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Stunning in parts but may not last the distance

Review by Ann Hunt 20th Aug 2018

Elliptical Fictions explores many pathways. Inspired by the movement and philosophy of Tai Chi, choreographer Zahra Killeen-Chance seeks to reflect and investigate opposing forces such as hard, soft, fast, slow, the seen and the unseen, the yin and the yang.

On a bare stage beautifully lit by the choreographer, from the wings five dancers slowly progress in slow and very focussed movement. …

In spite of the Rumi-esque title (A snail watches dust particles in sunlight) you could be forgiven for thinking you were back in the 1970s. There’s certainly enough hair here and nudity, although why the latter is anybody’s guess.  

Choreographers James O’Hara and Eliza Sanders’ work, although lightweight, is certainly easy on the eye and is danced with great alacrity and connection by all the cast. …



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