Kuranui College, Greytown, Greytown

01/03/2010 - 01/03/2010

Te Papa: Soundings, Wellington

02/03/2010 - 07/03/2010

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2010

Production Details

Dance Work for Young and Old 

“It’s hard to conceive of anyone – of any age – not loving Echoa…” – Living Scotsman

French Company Arcosm makes their New Zealand debut as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2010 with their dance work Echoa.

The stage is set with multi-level scaffolding allowing two percussionists and two dancers to come together to create seven stories which explore the connection between movement and rhythm. To do this they are joined on stage by two large xylophones, two marimbas’ and several drum kit pieces. Latin music is also infused into the piece.

The line between percussion and dance begins to blur quickly as musicians dance, and dancers play percussion, all done with a firm grasp of humour. Moving in tight unison, they build up one wall of sound after another, using instruments, bars, and each others’ bodies.

Echoa engages a multi-generational audience and asks them to explore questions like how does a percussionist dance? And what is the sound of a dancer’s body? This enables the audience to see the dance with their ears.

Dancer and choreographer Thomas Guerry and percussionist, pianist and composer Camille Rocailleux who are the producers of Echoa are joined by Samuel Favre (percussionist) and Eleonore Guisnet (dancer) who all met while studying at the National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance in Lyon. In 2001 they formed Arcosm. Echoa is their first creation. They have since created their second work, Lisa, the story of a young woman told in music and dance.

Echoa is sponsored by Accor Hospitality.

WHEN: 1 March
WHERE: Kuranui College, Greytown
WHEN:  2-7 March
WHERE:  Soundings Theatre, Te Papa 

Whimsy with a touch of slapstick keeps the crowd in giggles

Review by Jennifer Shennan 04th Mar 2010

This quartet of skilled performers from France offers a charming set of percussion and dance episodes that appeal particularly to a young audience, but will also entertain their older companions.   

Marimba and drums are very competently played by Camille Rocailleux and Minh-Tam Nguyen, and as well they gesticulate and leap about in appropriately lively fashion. The two dancers, Thomas Guerry and Emmanuelle Gouiard, move fluidly through numerous sequences of duck and dive, spin and skip, slapstick and tickle to keep the pace uptempo.

The silhouettes of bodies and instruments carry the timeless fascination of shadows. An early sequence had performers hiding inside separate little cubicles where lights were switched on and off at high speed, to eye-catching effect.

There was also a spirited four-way extended conversation of very funny huff & puff and nonsense syllables that proved a crowd pleaser, and for good reason.

There is an extensive programme statement of aims and objectives and goals, all of them choosing the side of the random and whimsical as opposed to the authority of logic, preferring sensitivity to intellect ( never mind that such a programme essay itself verges much towards the latter than the former.)     

The show lasts 50 minutes and all its sounds were pleasant – though none more so than the peals and squeals of laughter emanating from the audience, and the young fellow near me who frequently “got the giggles” at the cleverly silly antics was certainly pleased with his time out.
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Stimulating creator-performers

Review by Lyne Pringle 04th Mar 2010

At the end of a long hard day the performance of Echoa by French company Arcosm is a refreshing tonic. This company of dancers and percussionists are propelled by an extensive and fascinating manifesto that almost seems too weighty for the scale of the performance: ideas like focusing on the quest rather than goals; praising sensitivity rather than intellect; to purposely lose grip rather than reach for total control, etc. These are really interesting provocations in terms of theatre practice.

In this production there is not an ounce of fat. Each vignette/scene arrives and leaves well before it has outstayed its welcome; layer after layer of the possibilities for percussion and movement are presented to make rich theatrical mulch.

Distinctions between dancers and percussionists are blurred as the sense of sight is invited to hear and the ears invited to move.

The movement vocabulary is drawn from contemporary dance, with an unmanicured raw energy, subtle gestures and momentum based partnering. The soundscape created with two large xylophones, a huge marimba and several drums as well as bits of the set, and the potentials for sound in the performer’s bodies, is multifaceted and beautifully realised.

The most wonderful aspect of the aural visual world evoked in this performance was the delighted chortles of the children in the audience and their physical response to the work. One little boy kept leaping to his feet unable to contain himself within proper theatre etiquette – I imagined all of us adults responding similarly. We are invited in the most generous way to respond with our own ‘unique and emotional reaction’.

Fleeting ‘samples’ of characters pervade the evening with charming humour. Thomas Guerry, Camille Rocailleux, Minh-Tam Nguyen and Emmanuelle Gouiard are mercurial vehicles for a myriad of states of being and social interactions.

It must be a wonderful performance to navigate from the inside: one moment accomplished musician, the next vaudeville clown, the next lyrical dancer, the next breath control expert in an extended voice percussion sequence, the next a loopy chorus member in tight unison movement sequence.

With my ‘dreams stimulated’ I leave happy and a little more open to the unexpected, having experienced these wonderful performer-creators seeking ‘adventurous wanderings in the unknown lands’ of theatrical magic.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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