Flying South

Mansell Snr School Hall, Papakura, Auckland

20/10/2008 - 20/10/2008

Production Details

Splash Flying Dance & Company presents a unique and inspiring display of flying dance work as part of the 2008 TEMPO New Zealand Festival of Dance.

The daytime display involves young performers with and without disabilities who will dance from the ground to the air on ropes with mountain climbing harnesses. Choreography created as part of the Artists in Schools programme will be showcased along with collaborative works by both Splash and Touch Compass dancers.

Exploring new ground in an educational dance setting by combining students from both mainstream and special schools, the Splash Flying Dance programme is integrative in nature. It moves across previously established physical, intellectual and social barriers between schools, be they visible or invisible. The result is a wonderful spirit of sharing of both the thrill of aerial dance and new friendships.

‘Flying South’ is a migration of youth dance work from three different geographical areas of Auckland, all exploring the theme of " What Is Possible?" by playfully extending traditional ideas of participation.

Splash has worked collaboratively since 2002, after director Linda Parker returned from the U.K. where she facilitated the first integrated, aerial dance workshop with Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company. Splash has performed alongside singers Hinewihi, Caitlin Smith, the Deaf Sign Choir and Touch Compass Dance Company. Seasoned, original performers from Touch Compass Lusi Faiva and Tim Turner have been team-teaching and choreographing with Linda Parker since 2001 and 2007 respectively. 

"Charming and inventive – a treat for both young and old." – Francesca Horsley, Danznet 2004  

Date: Monday 20 October  11:30a.m
Duration: 60mins
Venue: Mansell Snr School Hall, Settlement Rd., Papakura
Entry by Koha
Bookings: ph: (09) 303 4115

1 hr, no interval

High fives for teamwork, dedication and joy

Review by Natalie Dowd 21st Oct 2008

It’s a long drive from Whangaparaoa to Papakura, but I was looking forward to a new dance experience and that is what I get.  Greeted by a small army of smiling helpful faces I’m ushered into a dance space slung with ropes and am seated on the stage, enabling an elevated view alongside the visitors and teachers from special schools who have also travelled a long way.

Flying South is the culmination of collaborative efforts through the Artists in Schools Programme with Splash Dance Company and director Linda Parker over the past year and a half. It involves three schools and dancers with mixed abilities.

In Modern dance we "love the floor" but in Flying South Modern dance is taken literally to new heights, combining gymnastics, acrobatics and rhythmic dance as the dancers move in their mountain harnesses from the ground to the air via the rope and pulley system.

With the click of a carabiner ‘Allegria’ begins with Lusi Faiva  from Touch Compass dance company, her graceful circling counterpointing and highlighting the spins, curls and upside-downside splits performed by Julia from Mt Richmond Special School.

The only soloist of the show, Stephen from Rosehill School draws  the delight and appreciation of the audience in his piece ‘Spin’, as he gains momentum and demonstrates his strength, agility and commitment to each movement. Then the space is filled with diverse shapes and patterns on the floor and in the air, in ‘Attention’ performed by Mt Richmond Special School dancers. Teamwork, dedication and earnest commitment is ever present and the movement is pure, lacking guile and theatrical pretension.

Notable too is the pure enjoyment that emanates. With smiles as wide as the arcs made by the ropes the Flying High-Fives soar safely in their harnesses and the unmitigated joy expressed brings a tear to my eye. Their ‘buddies’ pushing the ropes look just as happy in their roles as helpers. Then bliss turns to dismay for one of the wee five year old autistic boys as he is detached from the rope and we empathise. I don’t think any of us want him to stop either. Who would want to come down to earth?

‘Smooth Finish’ is an apt name for the student choreography made under the direction of Linda Parker and performed by Mansell Senior School students Debbie and Marie. Their fluent teamwork and coordination with each other is outstanding and the funky infusion of hip hop moves juxpapose and complement their fluidity on the ropes. ‘Be Yourself’ follows in the same vein, with Hinerangi and Liz adding their own jazzy flavour to their routine.

Then we are almost hypnotised by the combination of saxophone and shapes during ‘Wild Ocean’ by Tim Turner from Touch Compass.  Music and movement evokes images of lolling waves and the sense of being held in time. I am captivated by the dolphin like back arches and the beautiful curled stillness in suspension. It is both delightful and relaxing, and the audience is spellbound.

Not all the dance is done aerially. In ‘Screwdriver’, also by Turner, four young lads from Rosehill School give a grounded performance that features counter pull and counter balance. Again teamwork and awareness of each other shines through, and then the display ends as it began, with Faiva in a playful interchange that nuances Samoan dance alongside Sunita from Mt. Richmond Special School. 

With proud smiles the dancers take a bow, and I want to give them all a big high five.

As I drive back North I know that I have been treated to something unique, born of what I know is hard work, and am reflective of the freedom that such an experience brings for both dancers and audience.
For more production details, click on the title at the top of this review. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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