Degrees of Separation

Studio One - Toi Tu, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland

27/02/2019 - 02/03/2019

Production Details

Degrees of Separation three collaborative works between recent University of Auckland Dance Studies graduates and students.

A glimpse of new and developed material, 50 minutes of us and maybe a little bit of you, by a new wave of artists in the Dance Industry.

Degrees of Separation embodies and showcases the journey of each artist. We explore what it means to be ourselves in the world we live in, where we fit and how we are connected to one another.

 Sat 2 March 2019 7:00 PM

Tickets $20 / $18 at the door

Pasifika contemporary dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

50 Minutes

On the brink

Review by Seren Powell-Jones 01st Mar 2019

Above Ponsonby Road, in a room with wooden floors, I sat in the front row unsure as what I was about to witness. It is Fringe Festival after all. Studio One had been transformed and the audience was a collective of family, friends and individuals, who, like me had been ushered up the stairs to pick any seat. They warned me it was going to ask a little bit of me. They didn’t lie and I didn’t hate being a part of it. It was indeed the gentle nudge I think all audience members could enjoy. The show is broken down into three different works. These are my thoughts on all of them.


It’s better in the dark.

12 light bulbs, 1 seat, a couch, a makeshift fort and feet hiding behind a side table. Giving off strong 1950’s vibe it’s fantastic to see an aesthetic quietly revealing itself through costumes and set. Visions of Thing Thing from the Addams family started the work off moving. I currently have a line from the work running through my mind “don’t play with water if you cannot swim”. Its stuck to me like the veil blown onto the faces of the dancers but that comes later. My companion for the evening was chosen to hold a tablecloth/fort/ projector screen and she whispered in my ear “I am the chosen one” even though we didn’t know what for or why. It added to the backwardness of the work. Even when I found the theme of the movement, image or beat, the carpet was pulled out from under my feet and the intention changed. It was delightful being kept of my toes for the entirety of the work. For when the dancers came into unison it met my cravings as a fellow creative but just as suddenly as they synced up, it spiralled into duets and solos making me choose which end of the studio space to look at. It finds its ending at what I can only describe the aesthetic as ‘a party that never ends’. Dancers all with the same intention but going about it in whatever way their body needed. The change in lighting state made for me the most captivating moments. It was better in the dark, or at least, the dim, soft spotlight moments where the wacky but logical succinct phrases didn’t feel like an invasion of privacy.


Have you checked yourself?

With a 4 to 2 ratio of women to men, the collective of dancers are strong in each of their own way. The stage now clear we are drawn into the details of this work spotting the checkers and stripes-black and white aesthetic that worked to set the theme of trending. In the day and age where following a path but in your own way INFLUEN / / ZAH captured my attention in just how subtly I wanted to be a part of what was going on in front of me. The watchers become watched with relentless observations. The audio putting me through my paces as an audience member. I wanted to question the intentions of the group, the role we play as the audience watching and how this relationship seems to be symbiotic yet individualist simultaneously. At times it was through the touch of the group caused attacking of the single. Dancers would envelop commanding solos trying to outdo the group in a cheeky mockery though they would eventually get sucked back into the trend of the collective. I felt super self-aware and being on the edge of looking in the mirror of confrontation. It would be nice to move away from the audio huffs that have been time and time again, just the looks alone could kill you on this one.


Oh, petal. 

You could feel it in the air, the pure compassion these women hold for each other. It felt organic though the flowers weren’t. It wouldn’t of mattered if the room was full or empty the audience could not have affected them. Almost untouchable they organically unravelled their stories to us. They came as they have always been, dancing for each other, we just had the privilege of sharing the room with them. We were invited. They have travelled over oceans. Finding ourselves in the same room. I wrote in my notes after a series of solos that flowed into one another, linking and intertwining – ‘she was her but all of them’. I would encourage them all to release more in the sense of enveloping and becoming bigger than the room, the studio because no one would dare stop them. Once they had my command I could not say no to the placement of petals. They looked at peace in the final scene, as though the waves of the oceans they had travelled on had now washed away anything that had tarnished them. Five fearless women,  k of taking what is theirs.

Though this may be a fringe festival show I would encourage Degrees of Separation to look at the finishing touches for their work. The first person you are greeted by can set the tone for the entire show. Have your team ready to greet and direct, otherwise, it can make your audience feel lost. But perhaps that is what they were going for the first work?


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