Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

08/02/2022 - 12/02/2022

Little Andromeda, corner of Gloucester St and Colombo St, Christchurch

17/03/2022 - 19/03/2022

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

07/04/2022 - 09/04/2022

NZ Fringe Festival 2022

Production Details

Choreographer - Jessie McCall

Cast - Liana Yew, Terry Morrison, Sharvon Mortimer, Rosa Strati

Producer - Zoe Nicholson

Sound and Set Design - Jessie McCall

presented by All You Can Eat Productions

All You Can Eat Productions presents


Inspired by cheap champagne, faux luxury and the destruction of our natural world choreographer Jessie McCall brings four dancers to the stage for the joyful yet confronting dance theatre work DAYBREAK ESTATE, playing in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland from March 8 – April 10, 2022.

Daybreak Estate pours you a glass of cheap champagne in mourning for the outright violence that we inflict upon our planet. Trapped in a decaying wellness retreat, the ritualistic nature of both our self-healing and self-destruction is examined. Our protagonists are equal parts social elite and primal pack, disconnected from the earth, yet face down in the mud. 


Daybreak Estate was created in 2020 and premiered in Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa in the same year. Described by viewers as “haunting and charming”, “wildly clever” and “hilarious in a somewhat devastating way”, the enthusiastic response from audiences inspired this remount and tour in 2022.  The work has evolved since its first outing, to reflect changes in the teams’ own lives and perspectives.

“Daybreak Estate is the name of a cheap cask-wine brand. I love the contrast and contradiction of this affordable, bulk, low brow product with the grand and rather elitist sounding name. I feel that it speaks to the inevitable and utterly human contradictions, underbellies, and facades that we all play with in life, and that this work explores.” says McCall

As in all of McCall’s work Daybreak Estate will offer bold physicality, intimacy, and a chance to laugh out loud. Her work refuses to tell the viewer what to takeaway, but she aims to provoke with a series of images and notions around luxury, glamour, community, environmental destruction, social sabotage, and the natural world.

McCall has assembled an incredible group of dancers to bring this work to life who all bring their vast experience in the field of contemporary dance to the stage. Dancers include Liana Yew, Sharvon Mortimer, Tori Manley-Tapu and Terry Morrison.

Daybreak Estate is refreshingly indefinable. The work pulls its audience into an intimate dance with their own vulnerability, destructiveness and sheer delight.

Music , Experimental dance , Dance-theatre , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

60 mins

A fanfare to chaos

Review by Felicity Molloy 08th Apr 2022

Daybreak Estate is 60 minutes of frothy folderol with a mischievously introverted lens on a retreat setting. The participants manage their likely identity within the group with name badge stickers, and all engage in very little of great note. Or so it seems. 

A tacky plastic glass moves across the floor in and then out of a light pool towards a tarpaulin hut with soft creaking. A quick snatch of hand action takes the glass inside. That is all repeated, as though we are to read into the jiffy some sort of crafted symbolism. Starting at daybreak, Jesse McCall cleaves a show with a theatrical surrealism that embodies space restriction, unanticipated light colours, a fish tank with a jelly fish and sparkly fish food, pink pot plants that are lined up open for inspection –  confirmation we are still living – and sounds of a champagne cork, or the unzipping of the hut walls, and the pensive to cacophonous medley of musical selections collated by McCall. These elements are all in a curious juxtapose of loose and individualised moments.  

Costuming is inelegant with black sateen, fluorescent pink, cut up raincoats and nasty lycra that etches discomfort in sweaty faces, groins, and armpits, sunglasses even. The light and costume sweep, from pink to fluorescent yellow or deep purple, makes it difficult to know whether the lovely, centred freedom of the dancers and the movability of the hut is anything other than a fanfare to chaos. Liana Yew picks her moments and maintains a strong and sensitive presence. The others too. Liana’s delicious solo towards the end of the work, is similarly highlighted by Terry Morrison (unbearably soft and achingly funny), Sharvon Mortimer (cool and perceptive in glance and action), and Olivia McGreggor (versatile dancing with the most fabulous sinuous expressivity of champagne’s bodily reaction). 

It is not one action, or the next, or even the third repetition of the movement sequences swapped out by the dancers and becoming increasingly undone, which makes this work eminently watchable.  Through sound and movement, and the intensively visual light and shadow, the choreographer inevitably inflicts on us her distinctive kind of stylish elegance. Associated expectations are that McCall presents future-focused generational recovery. However, because of the repetition of each extended scene, we are caught instead in the deadliness of recurred time, stale and unavailable to the reassurance of change or adaptation. Daybreak Estate is a serious work.


Make a comment

Relentless nihilist optimism.

Review by Virginia Kennard 21st Mar 2022

Traipsing into the city feels hard in this omicron-y world, but *sigh* town in Christchurch on a Saturday night doesn’t look much different. Hospo is probably relieved but i dodge my way through the unmasked masses drinking on the strip to wait outside the theatre. We are told to wear our masks at all times otherwise the show will stop, which, fair enough, though there is no actual social distancing in the theatre . . . Congrats to Little A however for staying open during Red Alert; we are told loudly and proudly at the start of the show that it is one of the few theatres able to do so. Congratulations too to McCall and Co for making a show, performing it, and touring it during a global pandemic. I know that almost the entire cast had Covid sometime during the rehearsal process, KUDOS so much KUDOS

But nonetheless, deadly virus notwithstanding, i am pleased to have experienced this work, it warmed the cockles of my nihilist heart, plus the pink cutesy fierce femme aesthetic is this reviewer’s dream.

The early movement phrases feel like contemporary dance technique class-esque, but as the work develops these phrases become floppy and ironic and nihilistic, interspersed with unison pop dancing – the earnest-irony or ironic earnestness of the performers is a delight, with Liana Yew’s piercing gaze and champagne-popping entrances, and Liv McGregor’s too-cool-for-school stage presence, both well crafted use of these experienced dance humans. Terry Morrison and Sharvon Lewis emit shiny eager muted-exuberance that McCall has used wonderfully to offset the former.

I want to know: are these demigods who laugh and dine and wine whilst the Earth drowns and burns? Or are these zillennials, millennials, or zoomers on a camping trip off grid to avoid the apocalypse?

Works like this make me wonder what is the ‘definition’ of dance theatre? I was dreading these dancers speaking, but luckily it was movement and prop-driven, with the soundtrack telling us what the work was ‘about’: climate-change. The stage is set with a tent of sorts – or a greenhouse? – which dominates the stage. The dancers dip in and out, emerging on stage with new versions of their costumes: pink plastic ponchos, neon yellow leotards, spacey-type athleisure-wear. Probably not made of sustainable fabric . . . And I wonder at the prevalence of white sneakers in dance shows as of late, though good for one’s feet in all the bouncy bouncy movement phrases.

Repeated chapters that begin with Liana popping a bottle of sparkling wine give the work a structure, a way for us to reset the absurdity unfolding, the dancing bodies bobbing with plants in pots. I want them to munch on them, but instead each chapter concludes with “Oops i ate another jellyfish!” much to my amusement.

We are treated to flashes of the lavish lifestyles of the global north, drinking and giggling whilst performing guilt at the destruction wreaked on earth. My favourite dance sequences were the writhing floor-based bodies with butts to the audience, emulating seals or porpoises as the whale-noises of the accompanying soundscape whine and moan, later juxtaposed with the ensemble doing canon aerobics: including the running man and exaggerated nodding. 

The moody lighting from Paul Bennett doesn’t really fit the ‘Daybreak’ of the title, but creates a clubbing feel: nighttime, when we attempt to avoid the realities of daily anxious life, the urge to drink it all away whilst continuing to cause and exacerbate the realities of our damaged daily lives. These dancers come through again and again and again with their active bodies, their relentless nihilist optimism. Is that even a thing? I feel it in my pores, the overwhelming dread of what the world is at the moment and the desire to simply . . . dance it away.

A work with some development ahead, with some sections of dance sequences that don’t yet feel like they fit, but a gleeful work that definitely deserves a larger stage, with space to celebrate these dancers,  immersed in physically interrogating that which we keep forgetting: the sea, the world, life itself.


Make a comment

A masterful control of tone and narrative.

Review by Erin Harrington 18th Mar 2022

Choreographer Jessie McCall’s hour-long work Daybreak Estate is a wickedly funny, provocative and ultimately profound piece of dance theatre. It invites us to a bougie influencer retreat at the end of the world, where the only things on the menu are benzos, Lindauer Fraise, and the dull EDM thud of existential terror.

The work, which initially premiered in Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa in 2020, showcases four terrific contemporary dancers – Terry Morrison, Olivia McGregor, Sharvon Mortimer and Liana Yew. They emerge from a large, semi-opaque mesh greenhouse, lit from within, which dominates the stage at Little Andromeda. They pop a bottle of bubbly, hit a pose. Together the four are the elite: they move together, love themselves, justify one another, pour champagne down the line, knock it back, and start again in a series of increasingly unkempt narrative loops. They couple delightfully bland faces and detached Kardashian half-smiles with movement that ranges from ironic gestures and understated pop and locks, to parodic loose-limbed 2am dance party realness, and energetic precise phrases in which bodies bend and twist, carving out space. 

There’s a comic but unsettling juxtaposition between powerful bodies and botox-blank faces. There’s also a killer soundtrack: dreamy LCD Soundsystem, portentous Funkadelic, and Yoko Ono demanding a bowl of cherries while she waits for the rain, all punctuated with unsettling pulsed calls like whale song, or cosmic death.  We’re offered a picture of joy and decadence as denial, but we also see that the insularity of their world is frequently punctured. We must watch how they respond to unavoidable evidence that the world we share is dying – and reflect on our own complicity too.

The production is extremely well-designed, creating impactful tableaux with light, smoke and bodies. Costumes in black, white and millennial pink quickly evoke the dreamy, luxe banality of a beauty salon or wellness centre. There are enough individual differences to know that the dancers’ personas – Tiffany, Sally Ann, Coco and Bernard, introduced with ‘hi my name is’ stickers – have that magical cool kid ability to discern what’s on-trend and how to work it. (Will white sneakers still be in when we’re drowning? Hmm.)

I laugh at some of the props, including potted cosmos flowers – ha ha, very funny – that the dancers bring forward to hold up and celebrate, in a performative act of eco-awareness. The pop-up greenhouse infers a place to grow and be nurtured, but also evokes a hiding place, a medical tent, a body bag.  And in the background, sitting on the drinks cart that gets wheeled out at the top of each cycle, a pink jellyfish in a glittery talk acts as a surreal guru, a sci-fi prophet, and a potent embodiment of the world we’re successfully fucking up.

The lighting is also well-appointed, creating complex and unexpected effects with a limited rig, including a remarkably effective repeating strobe sequence during a manic, distressed unison ‘running man’ sequence that creates a profound sense of unease. 

It’s a funny work – but brutally so. Through the work’s cyclic acts, we are asked to negotiate where we ourselves sit in relation to the elites partying their way, blank-eyed, through the end-times. They are compelling; they are repulsive. But moments of confusion and vulnerability peek through as the characters find themselves slipping quietly out of their stupor, paying more mind to the elephant in the room (or the jellyfish in the corner). At the end of each cycle, too many drinks in, they move against the floor in an embrace, in frustration. The dancers push and slide against the ground, at times in unison, with determined, angular full body movements, only to slip down again and again to an Earth that can’t and won’t let them go. It’s weighty, uncomfortable. The façade is dropped: it feels like a private, simultaneous act of refusal and supplication. Then there’s a gag – and a black out – and we start again, another day, and another party in which the disjuncture between apocalyptic reality and blithe denial is all the more apparent.

Noise pollution, in quiet moments, adds an unwelcome but nonetheless appropriate layer of meaning. Little Andromeda usually doesn’t have this problem, but its soundproofing can’t stand up to the ruckus of St Patrick’s Day on The Terrace. At times there’s the muffled drift of drunks bellowing out the greatest hits of the 70s, 80s and 90s while they guzzle green beer in the middle of a pandemic, no doubt waiting for a push notification about World War 3. Apt.

But in the piece’s moving climax there is still a sense of hope. We are asked to look past the dancers (and ourselves) and think about the world itself, which now has a more obvious voice and sense of agency; we can’t live if it’s dead. I feel like someone’s pressing down on my throat. In its conclusion the work demonstrates a masterful control of tone and narrative. It’s also highly recommended.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo