Dances About Love

Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin

12/11/2011 - 12/11/2011

Production Details



‘Dances About Love’ brings together three choreographers who use dance as a medium to tell three fabulous queer love stories. The choreographers, Hahna Briggs, Lisa Wilkinson and Brendan Kydd all studied dance together at the University of Otago, School of Physical Education. A decade later they found themselves living in Dunedin, participating in the local dance and LGBT communities. Briggs, Wilkinson and Kydd, excited about the prospect of a collaboration, formed Pretty Gay Productions and began talking, the outcome being, ‘Dances About Love’.

The choreographers utilise personal experience, diary excerpts of a dancer from her high school years and the online comic blog of a New Zealand Transgender to explore a range of real life love stories. The choreographers’ represent an emotional rollercoaster of young love, the honeymoon period, high school formals, hand holding in public, going on testosterone and so much more! Sam Orchard, comic artist and queer youth worker shows his support for this project stating that:

Working creatively to provide positive queer stories for queer youth, and to celebrate diversity is incredibly valuable. Using a multi-media approach to tell stories…will create new ways for our stories to be heard and held.

‘Dances About Love’ will be an entertaining evening for anyone and everyone!! Show contains adult themes and partial nudity. Come along to the Play House Theatre on Saturday 12th November 9pm; and Sunday 13th November, 2pm and 7pm. Cash Bar one hour prior to evening shows. Ticket Prices can be purchased from DASH Tickets at or from Quest on George Street, $15 / $10 concession (booking fee applies). Door sales will be available $18 / $12 concession.

Pretty Gay Productions thanks and acknowledges their funders: Creative NZ, Creative Communities; DCC discretionary arts fund; University of Otago, Humanities Performing Arts Fund; University of Otago, Dance Studies department; and 8 Ranges Wines.


not available

1 hour

A surprisingly seamless story

Review by Hannah Molloy 13th Nov 2011

Dances About Love is a little bit like seeing a series of exhibitions – Turner, Monet and Gauguin perhaps – one after the other. The three choreographers, Hahna Briggs, Brendan Kydd, Lisa Wilkinson, who trained together at the University of Otago and a decade later are all living and working again in Dunedin, have inherently different forms of expression but they work together in a surprisingly seamless story.

The Playhouse is a tiny theatre, one of those Dunedin institutions that not many people really know about but everyone appreciates when they find it. It’s cosy and intimate, the seating tiered high enough that you don’t have to worry about the bouffant do in front of you. The usual Dunedin attitude to performance start times holds true to form as the audience wanders in with its glasses of wine (in actual glass not tiresome plastic) and seeks the best seat or the most interesting looking person to sit next to. The seats are nearly all taken and the audience is exuberant, expecting good things.

Dances About Love is just that – a series of dances about learning how to love oneself, someone else or some way else. It is about learning to accept self and other and to accept difference as normal, human. The difference in the choreographers’ approach to this story is itself a reflection of the way difference blends to make humanity what it is and what it could be.

Inspired by an online blog of the same name, Hahna Briggs uses a simplicity and intensity of movement in  Tales of a New Zealand Transboy to drive her storyline and her queer superheroes, in undies and shiny leggings, bring humour and strength to the performance. Briggs’ series of sketches begin with a tender expression of new love – pieces of a broken heart reformed in front of the new couple elicit a generous and pleased ‘ahhh’ from the audience. Part two is crisp, dancers in shorts and vests in a homely setting drinking tea with faces full of mischief suggesting some of the effects of T (testosterone). In part three, the dancers discover the fun to be had with one’s own penis – there seems to be lots – and there’s a hilarious reference to that perhaps most manly of recent events, the Rugby World Cup. The fourth part of Briggs’ work, with an intense thrumming beat underneath a torrent of abuse and anger, is a stark transition and the audience is left a little breathless by the vitriol and by the bravery of the heroes who come to the rescue.

Brendan Kydd’s Be my Boy is a gentler discourse on the finding of new ways to be oneself and to be with another. The four dancers merge and separate, find new partnerships and separate again. Kydd’s looser, more fluid movement and the delicacy of expression these four performers use draw pleasure from an appreciative audience. Bodies melding and dividing in a complicated exchange of partners keeps the eye moving across the stage, watching for, and assessing, the perfect harmony between the different pairings. When one pair finds that perfection, the other two are left, watching from the back corner of the stage, a little bemused and thoughtful.

Lisa Wilkinson’s  Diary of a Teenage Lesbian opens with her usual surge of joyous energy. The Topp Twins Holy Cow shouts out for a little audience participation which Madame Moustache encourages with clever use of old style comedy show prompts – only much prettier. Her cast has room within her choreography to express their own perspective and Wilkinson offers humour amidst the disapproval her teenage lesbian experiences with a slow motion brawl. Wilkinson often appears to express her choreography through her dancers’ hands and arms and it’s surprising the gamut of emotion they show, from jealousy to fun, hesitation to joy.

Finally, From us with Love, with Wilkinson, Kydd and Briggs performing together, offers another perspective on being different but made with the same parts. Each performs the same dance sequence, but in very individual ways and the on stage costume change leaves their possessions in disarray but a personal disarray that seems to match the way they dance. Wilkinson discards her clothes and shoes as though she is in a hurry to get back to dancing, Kydd’s clothing is tucked back into his suitcase while he teeters gracefully on outrageously high heels – who can dance in shoes that high! – and Briggs’ change is measured  yet lithe and fluid.

Dances About Love will illustrate to many young (and some not so young) people struggling to come to grips with their sense of difference that there are many ways to be and while not all of them are easy, all of them are right.



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