FIN - Unitec Dance Showcase 2013

Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland

21/11/2013 - 24/11/2013

Production Details

FIN – the 2013 Unitec Dance Showcase featuring works by guest choreographers plus selected student choreographic works. 
Fin. is the culmination of a year in the life of our students and for our graduating dancers, the end of their journey at Unitec.

Dreamy McFloat
Choreographer: Tupua Tigafua

The Travelling Emporium of Human Curiosity
Choreographer: Maria Dabrowska

Choreographer/Direction: Malia Johnston

Choreographer: Jared Hemopo


Kei konei au (I’m here)
Choreographer: Eddie Elliott

Image Test
Choreographic Design/Direction: Sarah Foster-Sproull

Fields of Jeopardy
Choreographer: Michael Parmenter

T.T.C (Finale)
Choreographer: Shalom Leilua

21-24 November 2013, 7:30pm
Raye Freedman Arts Centre
Cnr Silver/Gillies Ave, Epsom Girls Grammar, Auckland

$15 Adults; $10 Concession (Unwaged, Seniors/Unitec staff) ; $5 Students & Children/Unitec Grads
Tickets now ON SALE at or call (09) 361 1000.
By online here:


Stage Manager: Camille Rees 
Assistant Stage Management: Ruby van Dorp, Amberlee Jones 
Lighting Operator: Jamie Johnstone 
Sound Operator: Matthew Bolland 
Costume Assistants: Year 1 costume students 
Technical Installation: Year 1 PDM students

Dancers (Year 1):
Reece Adams, Jonny Almario, Samantha Brown, Jasmin Canuel, Elaine Chen, Sarah Collins, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Caitlin Davey, Jasmine Donald, Georgia Elson, Elle Farrar, Sione Fataua, Emily Jenkins, Regie Malonzo, 
Alex Mead, Benjamin Mitchell, Taniora Motutere, Mariafelix Onate, Cushla Roughan, Chaya-Rose Shepherd, James Tautuku, Shane Tofaeono, Rodney Tyrell

Dancers (Year 2):
Bin Wang, Casey Reid, Olivia Reuters, Josie Archer, Xin Jin, Ellen Koland, Georgina Bond, Karyn Robbins, 
Stephanie Balsom, Tori Manley, Emily Doherty, Chancy Rattanong, Chelsea Baxter, Aloalii Tapu, Gabriella Mersi,
Brianna Chapman, Jenny Postles, Joanne Hobern, Christopher Ofanoa, Kosta Bogoievski, Adam Naughton, Monique Westerdaal, Amelia Grey. Skye- Leanne Hurst

Dancers (Year 3):
Alisha Anderson, Ula Buliruarua, Adelle Cottle, Ashleigh Coward, Arahi Easton, Eddie Elliott, Lisa Greenfield, Jared Hemopo, Melana Khabazi, Chrissy Kokiri, Shalom Leilua, Fleur Lovejoy, Marisol Pengelly, Letitia Senior, Ben Temoku, Emily Woodall

Dance ,

90 mins

Impressive celebration of contemporary dance

Review by Dr Tia Reihana-Morunga 22nd Nov 2013

“hello just letting you know our grad shows are starting next week …please come, the pieces that I am in are cool because the quality of movement is different for me and I would love for you to see it and where I am now as a dancer and where I could go because you have seen where I have come from… no doubt I have more to learn and experience but I think this is a good beginning”

I received this message a few days before watching the Unitec Showcase – FIN… to unpack these words reveals one of many underlying strengths in what made the show so fantastic… a fortitude that shone through young dancers full of energy, potential and future.

FIN – something that provides stability? There seems evident a stability within this gathering of students and current third year graduates that enabled them to engage with the roaming intentions of guest and student choreographers.

I really loved this show for its richness of watching young dancers within a contemporary repertoire move so well, entice audience with personality and move away from a dominant dancing discourse that can sometimes be cloudy and repetitive. Being mature and confident to search and often enough find themselves in the choreography, to not be swamped by the depth and expectations of movements… that is very impressive… it’s entertaining… it’s inspiring.

There seems a natural progression of capability through the year levels at Unitec, a seasoning, a growth. Watching the 1st years stepping into choreographic dimensions somewhat new to its furnishings; the 2nd years with firm feet and focus; and 3rd years strong, submerging and surfacing in nice understandings of space and each other.

The opening statement of this review shared a message from a 2nd year Unitec student to his old school dance teacher…  showing there is a prosperity that is reflective beyond the development of technique and presentation of an aesthetic. It suggests that the growth is not just about the external, it is also about the internal journey of the dancer and artist… How are we nurturing young dancers in Aotearoa, how do they feel about it? It seems we are doing very well on both agendas.

FIN opens within relative silence and the cross-stage wandering migration of lit lanterns in darkness and an incoming minuet of travellers. There is a passing of ships that eventually disembarks dancers as they re-enter space in movement and sequence. Choreographer Tupua Tigafua offers ‘Dreamy McFloat’ through articulated movements of 3rd year students. In his programme notes, Tigafua suggests effects of kava, Aitu (spirits) and space, in-between space as providing underlying currents of stimuli. I feel a sense of migration that moves through states of floating unison and non-urgency, to tugs of clothing and unexpected, deliberate and displaced body parts. In the raising of a dancer’s brow and the isolated shift of foot, leg or arm, such attention brings inquiry to how they/ we move as community.  Who breaks unison and why? These displaced moments add to the overall beauty of the work.

‘Travelling Emporium of Human Curiosity’ choreographed by Maria Dabrowska is a large negotiation of characters lined and framed, beginning with a simple game of statues. I am feeling a slight touch of a time warp, disco hillbilly, vaudeville, circus that returns to an ongoing choreographic idea of a game. 1st year dancers interact at times fiercely, creating with their bodies walls and junctions to be overcome and explored. The mood of the game shifts often from light to dark emphasised through the dancers gaze to audience. There does appear to be a curiosity in their direct focus that repeatedly becomes consumed with what is happening within space and action. The work for choreographer Dabrowska comes out of a deep consultation with the dancers, full of potentiality and enthusiasm. Within the formalities of performance, her work does well to provide an established creative contact for the students who are in early stages of their careers as dancers/artists.

‘Trigger’ a work created by Malia Johnston flows from the collaborative contributions of 2nd year Unitec dance students. Sequences that were created by students as a ‘response to self’ were then developed by Johnston within the creative process. And as Trigger begins, I really feel a sense of the dancers’ selves. Through embellished individual signature moves, dancers leap, jump, roll, fall, gesture and step across stage somewhat effortlessly and within a simple wash of grey cotton costumes.  What follows is layering of clothing, colour, ribbons and mood, bringing diverse personalities to the work.  There is an ongoing play that keeps you present and smiling. A juxtaposition of dancers in urban hooded jumpers, waving bright ribbons, moving happily and gracefully is slightly contagious. What began as a washing of grey, and waves of musical sub-woofing emerges in the choreographic intention of a ‘puzzle’ with an array of colour and contrast that ends quite unexpectedly.

The first of our two student works follows. Third year Jared Hemopo and his most recent creation ‘Pānekeneke’ is, at its most literal translation, an exploration of being “slippery, shifting, insecure and vulnerable”.  I guess like some understandings that are challenging to explain from Te reo Māori to English this work from Hemopo seems embedded in something more. There is energy on stage that works during the duo performed by dancers Eddie Elliot and Ben Temoku. I believe it, I want to watch it. I am also drawn to the vulnerability as the dancers spend the first part with their backs to audience. There is a moment when they shift to face us and by this stage I am already nested in shaded actions of filling kinaesthetic space, pushing, pulling and moving in and out. I thought about the relationship Hemopo was exploring through his choreography… Sometimes we are the most ‘slippery, shifting, insecure and vulnerable’ with those we are the most closest to.  In its honest simplicity, this was a beautiful work.

Also in high acknowledgements, another 3rd year student, Eddie Elliot, offers an autobiographical narrative from life’s experiences and memories.   In reflections of relationship with his ‘tuahine’ (sister) Elliot’s choreography calls, talks and remembers her through the movements of his 10 student dancers. I feel a story being told on stage, layered with spoken word and waiata. There is the sound of the conch calling home? Calling forward? The beat of drums as the accompaniment suggests heart beat and rhythm of life, all adopted into movement characteristics of performers and the at times frantic choreography.

Within both student works I am impressed at the commitment of students in their performance. All lovingly honour the choreography of their peers, each piece articulate and embedded, standing confidently amongst the work of others.

‘Image Test’ the creativity of Sarah Foster-Sproull follows. Her work always offers an ongoing unpacking of possibility that includes whats, wheres and whys of you, me, us and other. Opening with what appears to be a puppet, yet, on reflection perhaps a lifting of the lid on our thoughts… the functioning of brain and all its little and potential manipulative triggers… or the role of others in you. There is a tug of puppet, tug at audience and a tug at me. Thin twigs of stick to hair held by dancers as they move around the primary object, who moves in spurts of potential aggression, directed to? Foster-Sproull can ask us to dive under literal interpretations in a work that explores, as she states, ‘flesh based images’. Indeed, lost in motion 3rd year dancers use their bodies in design of space, framing each other in relation to flesh and floor. Hands become wig, frame or halo; in canon, a cascading wall of thigh, shin and feet all add to an oddity of the human. A dancer enters with what appears to be an intestine in a box. Quite novel as it is lit to resemble a lucky dip or popcorn machine… I imagine a sign that reads ‘no soul here… just your standard internal organs’ . It is bizarre yet familiar. Amongst the richness there still remains simplicity in movement that maintains an integrity and/or seriousness to the work. I feel that Foster-Sproull is able to interrupt us as an audience. This is what adds to the interest and relevance of her work.

Michael Parmenter’s ‘Fields of Jeopardy’ first created in 1988, was a response to the Olympic Games and the ‘skill, precision, daring of athletes’. Today it remains about skill and precision as dancers are enthralled in a technical display of weight bearing leaps, jumps and partner work. As we progress, the dancer’s ongoing commitment brings with it a verbal/vocal recognition from audience. We are in the stands of a stadium applauding their stamina, skill and commitment. A work first performed 24 years ago sustains a grace and choreographic awe that was adhered to by the collection of dance students entrusted with its revival. I felt like running through fields… I also wanted to be thrown above and caught within a fluidity and continuum. There was however a satisfaction in watching able others claim space and rhythm within the challenges of Parmenter’s work.

What follows and finishes is the finale choreographed by 3rd year student Shalom Leilua. T.T.C  was a relaxed collage of dance genres. Celebration, friendship and life were evident in the coming together and farewelling of a dancing family. Snippets of hip hop merge with/into/out of modern/contemporary. Structured within the formalities of a ‘finale,’ each emerging line and cluster of dancers moves with an energy that is in celebration of all their hard work.

We the audience witness all of their hard work and we are celebrating with you Unitec. Congratulations!


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