Fall and Recovery

Hagley Open Stage, Christchurch

28/07/2012 - 29/07/2012

Production Details


Times and Dates:  Saturday 28th July, 7.00pm;  Sunday 29th July, 4.00pm
Venue:  Open Stage, Hagley Community College
Door Sales:  $15.00 waged, $10.00 unwaged 

All proceeds go towards the creation of the Sheryl Robinson Memorial Scholarship, providing funding to enable exceptional dance students to pursue further dance education.

Choreographer, teacher, company director and dancer, Sheryl Robinson inspired a generation of Christchurch contemporary dancers. Fall and Recovery presents a diverse programme of dance celebrating the work and continuing legacy of an outstanding mentor, colleague and friend. A selection of Sheryl’s works will be remounted and new works inspired by her will be presented by present members and graduates of the Hagley Dance Company, Unitec graduates, Rebound Dance Company, plus other professional colleagues.

In 1989, following training at the New Zealand School of Dance and a professional touring engagement, contemporary dancer and choreographer Sheryl Robinson made the gutsy decision to base her professional career in her home town of Christchurch. She began teaching, through independent studio Dance Corporate, local ballet schools, tertiary providers and local high schools, as well as touring with Sarah Franks’ company Manawa Nui. Sheryl then formed her own company, Dance Core. In addition to regularly mounting her own dance productions, Sheryl performed regularly with Wellington based choreographer Paul Jenden and would also go on to form another dance company, Local Weeds. In 2009, Sheryl became a founding member of Christchurch’s dance company for mature dancers, Rebound Dance Company with whom she continued to work until just before her death in 2010.

In 2000 Sheryl was instrumental in the creation of Hagley Dance Company; a full –time dance programme that provides a springboard into a career in professional dance. Through Hagley Dance Company, Sheryl continued to provide work and professional development to both students and the wider Christchurch dance community.  

Sheryl Robinson's legacy celebrated in style

Review by Sheree Bright 28th Jul 2014

The goal of the dancer who undergoes dance training is to be a better dancer than they were yesterday. Each dancer experiences a unique progression through this process. Though fraught with challenges and character development, it is a precious experience. Once felt, it is imprinted on the soul for all time. The flame is ignited. This encompasses all styles of dance and each generation of dancers.

Dancer, teacher, choreographer and company director, Sheryl Robinson inspired a generation of Christchurch contemporary dancers. In 2000 she was instrumental in the creation of the Hagley Dance Company; a full-time dance programme that provides a springboard into a career in professional dance.

This performance of Fall and Recovery celebrates her legacy and raises funds for the Sheryl Robinson Memorial Scholarship which is awarded every year towards  tertiary study to a current or former member of the Hagley Dance Company. The evening features works from Rebound Dance Company, Hagley Theatre Company, Hagley Dance Company, graduates and professional dancers.

Threading the evening together with his comedic interludes, MC Dayle Hunt, wearing a kilt, consistently has the audience engaged and laughing.

There are tables with drinks and nibbles as one enters The Open Stage theatre. Waiters and waitresses graciously greet and serve the audience members.  These servers turn out to be the enthusiastic and talented Rebound Dance Company (for over 40 dancers), who transitioned into performing excerpts from their latest cabaret season Table 12. Sean James’ solo has the super suave moves of a Fred Astaire including a hat with its own lighting effects.

Fusion is performed by a group of Hagley Dance Company graduates whose presence highlights the flow-on value of previous training. In the adagio duet, danced by Amy-Leigh Broadstock and Paul Brown, the lifts are executed in beautiful form with strength, clarity and grace. The solo by Kieran Growcott shows great focus of isolated moves and controlled power around the performance space.

Two more works by graduates, For the Love of Cats and Cola, a short film by Kate Bartlett, and A Conversation with Claire, a careful solo dance by Cushla Roughan, pay homage to Sheryl.

The Hagley Dance and Hagley Theatre Companies combine on stage through a fun series of entrances and exits, up to about 30 performers at once, in Twitch. Their enthusiasm and energy light up the stage and their performance is delightful.

Ravens, a short film by Sean James and Sheryl Robinson, is enchanting with the whispering sounds and images of dancers in long flowing skirts moving in the forest, fading, emerging, suspending the breath and blending into the next image.     

The final piece of the evening, Speak, by the Hagley Dance Company, begins with  five dancers standing together, breathing a unison soundscape to their moves. The piece evolves through music by Strike Percussion and JS Bach, with a variety of explorations in signature movements inspired by Sheryl. With superb focus and complete commitment, the final movement, a unison sustained reach to the sky while gently lowering to the knees, is a powerful and moving image.

As I leave the theatre, I ask two young girls in the audience what they liked best about the show. One says, “All of it, I couldn’t pick.” The youngest says, “The food.” Yes, there really was something for everyone.

Congratulations to the caring curators of this successful tribute show, Fleur de Their and Megan Platt, to the production support of Hagley Dance programme director Candice Egan, and to all the dancers, choreographers and supporters. Each choreographer and dancer displayed their own unique capacity to carry the flame. All have done just what they needed to do, honour Sheryl Robinson and generate support for the dance scholarship set up in her name. In her history of carrying the flame of dance, Sheryl Robinson touched many lives. How the sparks ripple out into time is impossible to know.


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Sheryl Robinson's legacy thoroughly celebrated

Review by Paul Young 29th Jul 2012

In this very same room 16 years ago, I watched Sheryl Robinson, my prospective dance tutor at Hagley Theatre Company demonstrate ‘fall and recovery’ the skill of surrendering to gravity and then recovering your balance. It is a common element in movement. Even walking is a series of falls and recoveries. It was a technique served Sheryl’s choreographic ethos well. The elevation of the spiritual over the physical was a recurring motif in her work

As an auditionee in 1996 I admitted to the Theatre Company’s Director that I didn’t even know what dance was. I had seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show so based on that, fishnets seemed unavoidable.

Sheryl seemed tall and cool. Her hair was short and she had control over her body that I found a little terrifying. In time, Sheryl told me that she thought I could be a professional dancer,and upon the formation of the Hagley Dance Company in 2000, Sheryl invited me to participate. At that point dance represented a lifestyle that was completely contradictory to everything I had known before, and although I did not reward Sheryl with as much diligence as I should have, her belief set me on a trajectory for with I am grateful. Sheryl didn’t just teach me how to dance, she helped me to work hard, live well, and look after myself.

In this heartfelt and enthusiastic Memorial showcase produced by Sheryl’s friends, colleagues and ex-students, remounted works choreographed by Sheryl sit alongside short films and works dedicated to her memory. The execution is uneven, this isn’t a fully funded production and the performers are of varying ability. But their commitment to making this show an honest celebration Sheryl’s legacy makes for an appropriate homage.

Sheryl probably coined the term ‘ just do it ‘ before Nike did. She strived to make the difficult look easy, which she did better than most.

In the opening work, an excerpt from ‘Voyaging’, in which I participated in 2001, the music of Bobby Mcferrin immediately takes me back. The familiar intertwining movement pathways that at the time seemed so tentacular and confusing to me are now performed by, among others, Kieran Growcott, a recent Hagley Dance Company graduate who, like I did so many years ago, has taken time from his first year at UNITEC to perform. The familiar lexicon is there, the neo classical vocabulary the oddly named dance moves … a ‘Dead cockroach’, a ‘Ross can’t do’.

Sarah Elsworth’s clear focused solo ‘I’m just…but I am’ leads me to draw parallels with the young Sheryl that we see in the archival footage. Two passionate young women fresh out of dance school, creating their own work and opportunities. How strange that the personalities that were predominant in New Zealand dance in Sheryl’s formative years are still dominant in peoples minds today!

Other works paint a picture of Sheryl’s choreographic interests, which often dealt with mysticism, feminism and transcending physical boundaries. ‘Inner ugly duckling’ in which white swan like women under-go metamorphosis in retrograde, questions notions of conventional beauty. ‘One’ is an assured work on Rebound Dance Company drawing strongly from the contemporary dance canon. ‘Gloria’ is all exaltation with cannon, partnering, jetés and eye pleasing formations.  ‘Red shoes’ is several gut busting minutes of constant petit allegro.

Rebound Dance Company, of whom Sheryl was a founding member, bring dignity and warmth to the three contributions the make to the evening. The tone of Sheryl’s final work for them, ‘Fumbling Towards Ecstasy’ is just right. It’s not the most vivacious of Sheryl’s works but in context its power is elevated. The short film blossom is also very successful. Tastefully produced and edited, it manages to be nostalgic and ghostly but also heart warming and profound.

The greatest testament to Sheryl’s legacy comes from Hagley Dance Company established by Sheryl in 2000. They are standouts! Fit, focussed, joyous and confident. As the head of dance at Hagley Community College, Sheryl endured a yearly tsunami of teenage choreographic nihilism. Gasmask wearers, drug experiences, murder re-enactments, vampire fantasies and so on. She bore them all with good humour, support understanding. Now under the directorship of Candice Egan, I believe Sheryl would be thrilled to see the sophistication that these young people are capable of.

It is appropriate that even in absence Sheryl is clearly the star of this show.

Watching archival footage of Sheryl performing her own solo ‘Alone Together‘ (accompanied live by Amy-Leigh Broadstock) her mastery is evident. Her distinctive movement quality is nuanced and clean. Her joy is palpable.

Sheryl predicted that that she would always dance, and one day would be an 80 year old doing sun salutations on the banks of the Nile. I’m sorry that she did not get the chance to fulfil that dream but in her lifetime forged a legacy that very few individuals could match.

Many thanks. To a pioneer, an admired dancer, an inspirational teacher and a good friend.

All proceeds to the show will go towards the establishment of the Sheryl Robinson Memorial Scholarship Fund to support promising students study dance at tertiary level. To make a donation to this fund contact Fleur de Thier fleurdethier@gmail.com.


Lyne Pringle July 30th, 2012

Thanks Paul - beautiful review! I wish I had seen more of her choreography. Here's to sun salutes by the Nile at 80 - like the sound of that. x

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