Samoa House TAP Studio, Auckland
20/04/2017 - 22/04/2017
(Design term): Paths that pedestrians take informally – in spite of urban design
Why do we stay “on track” when the route just goes in circles? What drives us to stray from sanctioned pathways? How do we harmonize our desires…?
… and where does spontaneity lead us?
DESIRE LINE(s) is the Restless Legs Ensemble’s first impatient creation. It is a fresh and startling new dance work, investigating the multiplicity and messiness of human intentions. Set to perform in Auckland’s beautiful Samoa House, this show is fuelled by the real dilemmas and confusions of 6 freshly graduated dancers, grappling with the reality that pathways in the performing arts are rarely sign-posted. In the spirit of our name we are wasting no time ‘playing it safe’ – this work explores a space between dance, performance art and theatre. It takes an immersive, experimental approach to audience configuration and isn’t afraid to get political. The work comes out of our collective desire to support each other’s visions and embrace our diversity in a highly collaborative and democratic creative process.
We are excited for audiences to step off the beaten track with us.
Thursday 20th – 8:30pm
Friday 21-Saturday 22 – 8pm
Restless Legs Ensemble performers: Bella Wilson, Jaz Yahel, Tui Hofmann, Brittany Kohler, Rosie Tapsell and Natasha Kohler.
Contemporary dance ,
Desires and aspirations, Weetbix, masks and LED eye-lights
Review by Adam Naughton 02nd May 2017
Restless Legs Ensemble’s debut full-length work ‘Desire line(s)’, brings to life the desires and aspirations of six dancers as they navigate their way in the dance industry, questioning their roles and opportunities as recently graduated choreographers/dancers.
The development process for ‘Desire line(s)’ was a collaborative and inclusive process between Bella Wilson and Tui Hofmann, who provided choreographic direction, and dancers Rosie Tapsell, Natasha Kohler, Jaz Yahel and Britanny Kohler – with Georgia Beechey-Gradwell and Anu Khapung (now both dancers in Footnote Dance New Zealand), providing creative input. DANZ also provided choreographic mentorship from New Zealand-based choreographer Claire O’Neil.
Upon arriving at Auckland’s Samoa House, audience members are offered a cup of tea, an inviting gesture that welcomes them into the foyer. Inside the theatre a three-sided seating arrangement is presented, with yoga mats covering the floor in a ‘snakes and ladder’ format, rendering an image of the sleeping arrangements at a storm shelter, a space of safety and community. The dancers enter, striding out into the space and subtly place objects in between the mats, accompanied by a playful jazz soundtrack. As the dancers gather upstage they ready themselves behind a dining table, and don black facemasks. With their LED eye-lights, designed by choreographer, performer, and artist Charles Koroneho, suddenly irradiated, the dancers become a group of fly-like beings, eating Weetbix and milk… a surprising image, which unfortunately doesn’t make a reappearance.
A repetitive choreographic sequence follows with the dancers putting on shirts and taking them off. In a precise movement progression, similar to an army performing a marching parade, these unison sequences are performed with clarity and a strong sense of ensemble. Fast direction changes give the dancing a sense of urgency, as though the choreography has to reach a destination.
The Weetbix-eating MC, Tui Hofmann, after an unorthodox and comical health and safety briefing, invites the audience onto the stage to shine phone flashlights onto dancers Jaz Yahel and Natasha Kohler. A performance of an embodied chess match then proceeds, transforming into a quick paced question-and-answer type exchange that is followed with dancers performed a hip-hop ‘booty’ dance while Hofmann stands, macho-like, aiming a ‘bazooka’ thing towards them. This is suggestive of Donald Trump’s patriarchy versus Beyoncé, and her prideful booty shaking sisters.
A video projected onto a screen shows the dancers playing ‘group lifts’ in a studio while an unscripted conversation is overheard. The video locates the audience into a different space as we no longer see bodies in front of us, instead self-consciously seeing through a camera lens showing a performance in the past. The video soundtrack exhorts compassion, in order to function healthily – I wonder if this is a desire toward the dance industry that these women are now working in?
A solo by dancer Rosie Tapsell follows, emerging from a cocoon of yoga mats with an orange-glowing lamp that perhaps signifies a cry for women to break out of man-made gender boxes and unleash their spirits. The dancers travel downstage with clasped hands held above their heads, praying or pleading for something they need. A six level body stack follows, both calming and frightening to watch as each dancer gently lays on top of the other with restless concentration. The audience stands very still around a small square space as the dancers end the show with a fast-paced unison dance, dodging each other and changing places at speed. This celebrates their love of sheer movement, and of performing to an audience.
The original soundtrack was composed by Flo Wilson, whose electronic scores produced a very atmospheric effect. Paul Bennet created an interesting lighting mood with limited rigging in an open space, and Andrew Gunn was the ‘always at the ready’ stage manager.
The dancers show vulnerability and connectedness making an interesting performance. It is encouraging to see graduates eager to collaborate with their peers and committed to producing their own work. Hopefully, we will see more from these courageous artists in the near future.
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