EDWA 2020: Katrina Bastian and Julia Harvie

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

05/12/2020 - 05/12/2020

Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa 2020

Production Details

Katrina Bastian, Soliloquy in Sweat

Soliloquy in Sweat offers audience members coupons to various services – cooking, cleaning, and babysitting, should the performer, Katrina Elizabeth, fail to fulfil her promise to collect half a-liter of sweat within 30-minutes. By performing a series of high-intensity exercises and movement phrases she attempts to produce and collect the prescribed amount of sweat. The audience is invited to join her in each exercise or movement, and donate their own sweat to the bucket. With this high-stakes performance we subvert capitalism, notions around disgust, and voyeurism in celebration of resilience, community, and empathy.


Julia Harvie, Hummingbird

a drum roll for failure and near-misses
a call to not knowing and uncertainty
a fugue of personal doubts and refrains repurposed for joyous intent

Herald Theatre, 9pm

Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Experimental dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour

Streaming consciousness, intensity exercises

Review by Sue Cheesman 07th Dec 2020

Hummingbird begins quietly with small movements, flickering hands leaving us to focus on the text in the score which is like her unspoken thoughts.  This stream of consciousness spans many thoughts including love, childbirth, baby, mothers, personal doubts,  failure, uncertainty and not knowing. Several of these recur throughout the piece.

I notice that she is wearing a huge headdress which looks like a garden of dead coral. She begins to spin slowly and then with more intensity until she is spinning fast,with a consequence that the headdress begins to disintegrate spewing the debris all over the stage as it flies off leaving a carpet of dead twigs and seed cases in its wake.

Each section differs from the previous. Several movement motifs including gestural ones return in the piece giving a sense of cohesion.

Bent forward at a right angle, torso parallel to the stage, she slowly shuffles across the stage. This is a powerful image and seems like she carries a world of burden on her bare back.

At another point, Julia uses the mic to map her body and we hear her internal sounds blended in with the existing sound score. A drum roll heralds a section with a  powerful performance of recognisable contemporary technique. Julia raises many issues in this piece through her thinking out loud coupled with her choice of movement vocabulary and sound text score. All interweave to create a complex tapestry.

Soliloquy in Sweat is punchy,  in your face work. Choreographer and performer Katrina Bastian with strong unwavering projection  delivers her message of “a celebration of resilience, community and empathy” loud and clear  throughout. I so enjoy watching this piece and have empathy with every ounce of sweat produced, although I think this fell well shy of the amount promised – half a litre.

Katrina starts off dressed in a silver sweat suit dancing on a giant blue tarp. She tells us her story of becoming a dancer bit by bit while she expertly performs a variety of choreographed movement phrases and repetitive movements (intensity exercises is her description) such as fast vibrating/shaking/jumping which have an indirect relationship to this wittily spoken text. The time ticking away on the screen and the house / drum and bass music relentlessly drives this piece forward. Accumulation serves her well as a device to begin again and add on a new snippet of information on her story each time. She begins again many times and adeptly varies the pace of delivery while performing the phrases in a variety of directions and orders. It is exhausting – time for a sip of water.  

Part-way through she takes all her clothes off including the cling wrap strapped around her body in different places. She then collects the sweat by various means including squeegeeing her own body to get every drop counted. This is hilarious, disgusting and underpins the question – what price does one pay to be a dancer. She dances her entire story one more time butt naked and the music is less dominating, meaning that we hear all her tale.   

It’s a blast from wow to go. At the conclusion she asks all dancers to stand up and most of the audience oblige and then she invites anyone with a salary of over 56 thousand to produce their credit cards to help bankroll her career.  No Chance – instead  the stage fills up with audience members having a boogie with her. This seems a fitting way to conclude the Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa 2020 and congratulations to Alexa Wilson and her team for making this event possible. Such a joy to rekindle watching live theatre – my thanks to all involved.


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