BATS Theatre, The Random Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

06/10/2020 - 06/10/2020

NZ Improv Festival 2020: Close To Home

Production Details

Created by Charley Sanders and Eliza Sanders,

House of Sand

288 ribs,
120 fingers,
24 legs,
12 faces,
3 known moments
1 absurdist world

Dance. Dance. Have Feelings. is a group of bodies all falling, flying, shifting through space. Making infinite instant decisions.

12 dancers negotiate an hour with only three shared moments of ‘choreography’.

We have some rules, they are made to be challenged.

We enjoy the sensations in our bodies. It’s hopelessly self-indulgent, over emotional and existential.

We cry, we laugh, we self-consciously groove to cheesy pop songs. We dance. We dance. We have feelings.

House of Sand have been working on a new method of dance improvisation for performance over the past two years. It seeks to access the emotions in motion and the motions in emotion. We are a group of dancers choreographing ourselves together moment to moment.  We make instant embodied decisions that sit within a predetermined aesthetic framework.

We are thrilled to present our first ensemble work using this method Dance. Dance. Have Feelings. at the NZ Improv festival.


“Eliza and Charley Sanders are important artists who give us an alternate view of the world” — Suzy Wrong, Suzy goes see & Auditorium (UK)

The Random Stage at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington (map)
Tuesday October 6, 2020

House of Sand is the brainchild of sibling creative partnership Charley Sanders and Eliza Sanders, but it is more than a funny play on the surname Sanders. It’s a way of describing how our sibling creative partnership works:  We’re like children on windblown beaches building castles, each one a collection of a billion tiny grains of inspiration, following our own sense of play. We gather people and ideas and build epic imaginative creations – knowing that eventually, whether with the next tide or the king tide – they will finally be washed away.

We came together through a shared belief that the dance and theatre worlds could learn a lot by looking to each other for innovative new ways of working and modes of performance, and it just so happened that we each had siblings on the other side of the fence! The playful blending of art forms to create experiences that are more fecund for audiences and more accessible to broad audiences is at the centre of our ethos as a company.

Dance. Dance. Have Feelings. joins NZ Improv Fest as a work not traditionally considered improv – but one that embraces spontaneity and highlights the huge crossovers between what we consider performance vs improv. We’re thrilled to host it for 2020!

NZ Improv Fest invites lovers of improvised theatre everywhere to join us in celebrating the art form we all know and love this 3-11 October, from wherever you are and wherever you’re at. Join us in Wellington, or connect with us online, in a celebration of world class, local talent!

NZ Improv Fest: Close To Home takes place at BATS Theatre
Performance programme 6-10 October 2020
Workshops 3, 4, 10 October 2020

Don’t miss a moment!

Performance Art , Improv , Dance-theatre , Dance ,

1 hr

Unexpected moments, wild abandon, beautiful mess.

Review by Melissa Bee 09th Oct 2020

Dance. Dance. Have Feelings., a fully improvised dance experience from House of Sand challenges audiences to consider the range of emotions that follow when you let your body lead.

The show begins as you enter the theatre; dancers are already on stage, “warming up” by following their physical impulses throughout the space. As an audience member, I’m already engaged, waiting to see when the dancers choose to begin the show. It’s clear the choice is in their hands (and feet, and torsos, and so on); the audience quiets, but the dancers continue on their own orbital planes.

The rest of the show builds slowly. You can see the dancers negotiating each movement, positioning themselves just barely within each other’s peripheral vision as they mould themselves into new shapes with each silent beat. They use their entire bodies, including vocal chords. They laugh, they cry, they laugh-cry, sometimes a moment too long.

As the scenes progress, the politeness is shrugged off and the company engages in pairs and groups, often colliding with each other. Sometimes this is effective, but after the third strained back bend I become a little worried for their safety.

There are moments where unexpected connection leaks through the troupe’s otherwise stoic expressions: Luke Romero and Kia Jewell smiling, wondering how to break free from their entangled legs and Tessa Redman flowing and weaving between dance partners with wild abandon come to mind.

Halfway through the show, the rest of the troupe rises from the audience, arms outstretched, as the dancers on stage continue to flail, unbothered. I am not a fan of the planted audience member, and their sudden appearance adds little to the show in that moment.

And then…they start to take off their clothes? I am about to write off the entire performance as an exercise in self-indulgence when a folk song begins. The clear and simple vocals focus the group. Ella Williams begins the most beautiful piece of dance of the evening- her movements are both fluid and restrained, detailed and expansive. Jag Popham also commands the stage with a clean, balanced expression. They both expertly combine musicality with strong technique. This is the dance experience I was hoping for.

The song swells to a fever pitch and then quiets, and the rest of the company joins the group once again, forming a line at the back of the stage. “No Scrubs” by TLC plays; this is the moment I realise the music is also improvised. The audience erupts in laughter and begins singing along. I wish that the dancers would join us, but their reticence reminds us once again who is actually in control.

The show closes with Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart”, and the troupe melts into a scene  that can be best described as Last Call at the Closing Night Cast Party. They are a pulsing ball of energy on its last spark, riding on adrenaline. Some of the cluster are wildly undulating, all are sweating, one is standing alone in the corner. It’s a beautiful mess and, at the end of it all, they are together, chests rising and falling as one, spent and in the fog of reverie that follows creation.

Dance. Dance. Have Feelings. leaves me with many; I am at once amused, uncomfortable, frustrated, and delighted. That one performance can elicit this range of emotions is a mark of success for House of Sand and their troupe of artists.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council