Decodance Classical on Cuba

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

23/07/2022 - 24/07/2022

Production Details

Choreographer Chrissie Parrott (Australia)
Java Dance Theatre
Musicians from The Queen's Closet

Decodance – Baroque wigs and gigs

Classsical on Cuba Festival

Step inside the St James Foyer and step back in time with “Decodance”. A special collaboration between Australian choreographer Chrissie Parrott, locally-based dancers and musicians from The Queen’s Closet. Each dancer will be clad in large-scale theatrical costumes for a unique show that celebrates the other-worldly nature of the Baroque era. A truly transformative stop on your classical crawl!

Foyer, St James Theatre, Courtney Place, Wellington

Saturday, July 23rd, 12:00pm – Saturday, July 23rd, 12:30pm

Saturday, July 23rd, 02:00pm – Saturday, July 23rd, 02:30pm

Saturday, July 23rd, 03:45pm – Saturday, July 23rd, 04:15pm

Sunday, July 24th, 01:15pm – Sunday, July 24th, 01:45pm

Sunday, July 24th, 02:45pm – Sunday, July 24th, 03:15pm


Singer Barbara Paterson

Dance , Dance-theatre , Music , Opera ,

30 minutes


Review by Helen Balfour 25th Jul 2022


Classical on Cuba

St James Theatre Foyer, Wellington

Sunday 24th July 2022 1.15pm

Reviewed by Helen Balfour

The audience filtered into the renovated foyer of St James Theatre, we established ourselves in the space.  The Queen’s Closet, a sextet, some with large Baroque wigs (I do wonder why they were not all outfitted in this way), chatted quietly and tuned their instruments at the far end of the foyer. It was tricky to see for some of us, as the pillars got in the way but, after a bit of jockeying, we settled.

A single performer, white-masked in a Crinoline dress made their way slowly down the stairs arousing our curiosity, moving with simplistic almost robotic gestures of greetings. They were joined by three more similarly clad performers who went about acknowledging each other, us and the musicians. The dresses were magnificent in structure, the rustling, crinkling sounds added to the rigid incongruity of the courtly movements and implied the first glimpses of the fragility of humankind, ideas that reappeared in the half hour piece.

With humorous, tongue in cheek flamboyance, Barbara Paterson bursts forth with strong operatic vocals, juxtaposing the movement of the dancers and focusing our attention on her as she glides through the space singing.

The quartet of dancers swirl and build in tension but then disrobe and remove sections of their masks displaying almost intimate and comical distortions as they cleverly manipulate the crinolines to form soft mounds of mushroom like masses. These then morph into other images and contexts leaving the dancers in white underwear, suspender belts and stockings, revealing what is left behind after removing the facade.

Paterson reappears and sings again, then falters, her voice breaking, trembling, alluding to her fragility too perhaps, or maybe not!

The Baroque inspired music, with some surprising techno twists at times, remains the constant element, binding the piece, picking it up and moving it on and out. The broken, distorted performers leave up the same stairs as they had paraded down at the beginning with aplomb, retreating from the disarray with just one performer flitting off with a spirited sense of freedom.

Parrott’s choreography has come from a much larger body of work performed at the Moore’s Building, Fremantle Western Australia some 32 years ago in a more abundant format.

This version of it works well as a concept and style, the performers are engaged and characterful, but the space was not ideal. The sense of a crumbling facade and the nod to pioneering times and values needed a more raw, abstracted venue.

Choreographed by Chrissy Parrott (Australia)

Performers from Java Dance Theatre

Musicians from The Queen’s Closet

Singer Barbara Paterson


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