Footnote Dance Made in New Zealand 2013

Opera House, Wellington

21/08/2013 - 22/08/2013

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

09/10/2013 - 09/08/2013

Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

11/10/2013 - 11/10/2013

The 4th Wall Theatre, New Plymouth

15/10/2013 - 15/10/2013

Hamilton Fringe 2013

TEMPO Dance Festival 2013

Taranaki International Arts Festival 2013

Production Details

Made in New Zealand 2013

The seventh and final year of this touchstone programme as Footnote Dance tours its last season of contemporary New Zealand repertoire. Made in New Zealand is a season celebrating, presenting and touring the work of Kiwi creators to Kiwi music for KIWI audiences.


Direction and Choreographic Design: Sarah Foster-Sproull
Music: Eden Mulholland        
Lighting Design: Jen Lal        
Dramaturgy: Andrew Foster
Choreographic Content/Performance:
Emily Adams – Levi Cameron – Alice Macann – Olivia McGregor – Rose Philpott – Manu Reynaud

What do we belong to? What does this belonging mean?

Made in New Zealand 2013 breaks new ground with one work by choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull. COLT is a collaboration between Foster, the performers of Footnote Dance and composer Eden Mullholland. Pertinent to the shifting landscape of Footnote’s organisational structure, this work explores observations on being part of a community in the throes of creation. Inspired by Foster’s personal experiences from within certain parts of the dance community, COLT started as a very personal message about the things that have been left behind, and grew to explore the art of possibility.

COLT could be a gun. It could be a horse. It could be a toy gun pointed at a horse. Held by a dancer in a neutral coloured costume. The dancer might be under the influence of instructions. They may be being used in a representational manner. Something akin to a human metaphor or the expression of someone else’s feeling. This dancer person can jump like a maniac, in order to indicate dancerly-ness. Watch them wash their brain of all the good and all the bad. Watch, from the safety of your seat. Watch them answer all the important questions”.

Performers/choreographic collaborators: Emily Adams – Levi Cameron – Alice Macann – Olivia McGregor – Rose Philpott – Manu Reynaud

1 hour

Beautiful, unsettling and poignant

Review by Holly Shanahan 16th Oct 2013

The seventh and final instalment of Footnote Company’s ‘Made in New Zealand’ series, ‘Colt’, is the creation of guest Director and Choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull, Composer Eden Mulholland and the six dancers who comprise the current Footnote company: Emily Adams, Olivia McGregor, Emmanuel Reynaud, Levi Cameron, Alice Macann and Rose Philpott.

The retirement of founding director Deidre Tarrant means this is also the final production as Footnote, as the company evolves into FootnoteNZ and moves forward with new leadership into 2014 and beyond.

The finer details of the company itself aside, this is a resonant piece of work. ‘Colt’ is a beautiful, unsettling and poignant piece of contemporary dance/theatre/music. I am still overloaded with adjectives hours after; the work is frenetic, it is surreal, it is languid and possessed. This is a show that explores flight and containment, evolution, madness, exclusion and inclusion, movement and control… among many responses I scrawled before reading the program notes post-show.

The dance of ‘Colt’ is at times zombie horror film meets mental asylum, at times the simple dance of two people figuring each other out. The show gives the grotesque, the rigid and the fluid all their moments in reflection of what it means to be a part of something, and how. The motif of the tribe, the gang, or indeed the ‘cult’, overarches the 75 minute performance: How are we are owned by others ideas, urges, or in some cases direct instruction, and how do we struggle or evolve to move with or against them?

From the first two pieces we are immediately drawn into a world of orderliness and obeyance, and if not obeyance – exclusion. The simple opening dance with a gold pair of gloves evokes strange symbols (with beautiful control by Emmanuel Reynaud) and expresses so simply the themes of collaboration or dominance that continue throughout the show. The choral mass of neutrally dressed dancers against a neutral room chanting and jumping in unison, set us up in an environment of conformity and order – the blank canvas of a new (or is it brain washed) mind. The inevitable breaking away of some is dealt with harshly, and it seems there is little option but to conform and return to the mass.

Some of the imagery in ‘Colt’ is truly stunning. Foster-Sproull’s choreography against the machinistic pulses of Mulholland’s score evokes the evolution of strange birds attempting to fly, mould together and stretch their boundaries. There are ‘Exorcist’ moments of insect-like possession, and animalistic creatures that compete and interact with curiosity about one another, bond, meld, befriend, defriend and make new. Robert Wilson would be proud of the slow motion work of these dancers, and at times Pina Bausch seems a clear influence on Foster-Sproull’s work.

The score by Eden Mulholland is a beautiful thing in itself (in fact I spent many moments wondering who wrote the music and where I could buy it before reading the program notes). It is tribal, electronic, industrial and orchestral. Cinematic Orchestra came to mind in moments, as did Lemon Jelly in the use of the eerie recording of words against mechanistic beats. The repetitive pounding rhythms and the use of recorded ‘voices of control’ could easily get into your head, control and own you, like some strange beautiful form of water torture.

 It is difficult to single out performers in a work such as this. The energy and commitment was beautifully cohesive, yet retained a sense of each dancer’s individuality. I really enjoyed the evocative pieces by Rose Philpott in an outstanding ensemble.

I was inspired to sketch imagery after the show; three sets of hands create masks, faces and helmets over another dancer as she widens her mouth flashing red green and blue; A swinging light orbits around and around a woman struggling to adapt; A person’s spirit is sucked away by a simple piece of string; A man at the end of his wits, his arms extending longer, and longer, pulls a gun from his mouth and turns on himself. All stunning and affecting moments.

The appearance of a unicorn (a giant Hindu-goddess-esque divine mother orating her ‘wisdom’) was a surreal surprise that changed up the stakes of the work. She reinforced the recorded mantras, ‘We are here’, ‘we are wanting you’, ‘surrender your name’ and become ‘unconnected from the rest of your life’. Horses parading gracefully around a man’s body sticks in the memory like a disturbing lullaby.

As the director’s note states ‘Colt could be a gun. It could be a horse. It could be a toy gun pointed at a horse. Held by a dancer who may or may not be under the influence of instructions.’ It could be a beautiful piece of work that can be enjoyed by not only lovers of dance, but of the theatre and of great music.

I am disappointed ‘Colt’ was a one night only show for New Plymouth audiences, as the smaller towns should see this kind of work more (I know it certainly challenged the creative scope of a young aspiring local thespian whom I sat with). 4th Wall is an excellent new space for Taranaki audiences and I hope we get to see more of Footnote as the company extends, evolves, grows and flourishes itself.


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Colt, Carnival Hound and Fatu Na Toto at Tempo

Review by Bernadette Rae 14th Oct 2013

Friday night at Tempo Dance Festival 2013 was all about Footnote’s final offering in its Made in New Zealand series. And what a way to go.

Deirdre Tarrant’s veteran contemporary company has never looked so good with dancers Alice Macann, Emily Adams, Emmanuel Reynaud, Levi Cameron, Olivia McGregor and newcomer Rose Philpott setting Sarah Foster-Sproull’s complex, strange and beautiful choreography alight with six virtuosic performances, set to a gorgeous score by Eden Mulholland and all upon a seemingly magical, luminous white floor gleaming through the mote-laden air….

Carnival Hound, with choreography by Maria Dabrowska and directed by Jo Randerson, has taken four years from its Wellington debut, to get to Auckland and proves itself another dark force…..

Fatu Na Toto‘s most appreciative audience spoke Samoan and …………….

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Consummate artistry wins ovation

Review by Raewyn Whyte 12th Oct 2013

Footnote’s consummate performance of Sarah Foster-Sproull’s 75 minute COLT at Q Theatre for Tempo Dance Festival brought a rousing standing ovation from a capacity audience, a richly deserved acknowledgement of the artistry, passion, skill and commitment of the company’s dancers and the demanding choreography which brought these qualities to the fore.

The work draws its themes and movement inspirations from the word COLT, but also from its New Zild equivalent as CULT, bringing an extraordinary array of references and symbols into the exchanges between dancers and their engagement with the audience.

One is the Colt pistol, a small gun made famous in pulp fiction, film and television, wielded by hard-boled detectives, criminals and cowboy. There’s an image of a colt pistol which floats past on a poster-board as visual wordplay in a sequence of cards holding allusory phrases, and later by sleight of hand an actual Colt revolver is apparently pulled from a dancer’s mouth, and he is subsequently shot by the same gun.

A second is the uncastrated young male horse which from 2 to 4 years old, explores coltish behavior, physically challenging its elders, sowing its own wild oats, and running wild with its peers.  References to such activities appear  in the dancing, transposed to human equivalents, and with the addition of masks, horses briefly join the affray.

The awkward adolescent period of the emerging supermodel, gamine, very slim and “coltish” comes from the world of fashion and glamour photography, and perhaps from pornography also. From these realms comes as distorted proportionality of limbs to torso, so arms and legs often appear to belong on some other body. Jutting arms and legs, and strange contortions of the torso feature largely in the choreography, with catwalk-like sequences exploring an array of display options for the dancers’ bodies.

The CULT references bring several variations. One is from an evangelical setting , with repeated jumping providing a trance-like condition overlaid by chanting WE ARE LOVE til collective fervor results. A second involves a monumentally oversized unicorn and a mysterious healing process predicated on a total commitment to the entity represented by the unicorn, and expulsion or excision of the infected portion of the body followed by whole-body light therapy. Our methods for healing cancer come to mind here.

That these references do not mesh is not at all a problem – in their multiplicity they allow the audience many places to enter the work, many ways to find personal connections and . make sense  of things.

Foster-Sproull’s choreography is physically inventive, with quicksilver cadences and irregular pauses, and an array of extreme extensions and strange balance. Bodies climb and corkscrew onto and around one another, clusters form and limbs tangle, bodies turn upside down and inside out, one body hanging from another’s shoulder via a bare foot hook, another sitting against a hip and held there by the other’s forearm.  Momentum builds and is interrupted; the flow of energy becomes distorted in unpredictable ways. It’s evident that the dancers have considerable investment in the creation and selection of movement vocabulary which makes the most of everything they are capable of, from extreme jumps and the occasional acrobatic feat, to delicate partner work, utterly committed weight-sharing in at times precarious positions, and ever-shifting configurations of bodies, partners, groupings.

The dancers are dressed in soft flowing fabrics – cream shell tops, white tights for the women under cream silk skirts, and full, softly falling cream cotton knit pants for the men. The clothing picks up some of the subtler colours in the lighting, too, so things do not always look the same. Much of the time, the dancers seem internally focused, fully absorbed by their commitment to the moment of performance, transformed by their immersion and transcended to some other place. Each of them is excellent – Manu Reynaud Olivia McGregor, Emily Adams, Alice Macann, Levi Cameron and newcomer Rose Philpott,

Throughout the show, the white dance floor glows as if lit from within, and appears to float in space, some kind of other-worldly arena. It hangs there amidst haze which suffuses light as and takes on slowly changing hues. The wonderful lighting (by Jen Lal) continues  to shift and morph throughout the work, with haze coming and going, and lights occasionally coming from the side or top – always creating a sympathetic environment for the rolling series of vignettes and ever-changing configurations of dancers. The glorious music by Eden Mulholland is another significant partner in the ever changing performance environment, and to my mind his best music for dance to date. There’s an extraordinary range to the music, creating different moods  and hinting at strange connections, and ranging from pulsing contrapuntal glitchy blocks to circling, cyling harmonics, from thundering, sonorous pipe organ to faint wisps of subtle theremin, grooving dubstep to discordant avant jazz piano.

By the end of the work, many in the audience seem, like the dancers, to  have been taken to some new, other space beyond words, and this is reflected in the spontaneity of the standing ovation, with many having tears in their eyes. All credit for this alchemical transformation  to Footnote and the development path these dancers have travelled together over the past four years under Deirdre Tarrant’s direction, with such challenging projects as Mytland (Claire O’Neil) Hullapolloi (Kate MacIntosh and Jo Randerson), Body Fight Time (Malia Johnston and Emma Willis), Perlieu (Malia Johnston ), and We have been there (Lisa Densem). 


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Complexity, energy, enigma, and powerful dynamics

Review by Dr Debbie Bright 10th Oct 2013

Presented for the seventh and final series of Made in New Zealand – Made in New Zealand 2013 – COLT is a collaboration between choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull, Footnote Dance Company, and composer Eden Mulholland.

COLT is a dynamic and challenging new contemporary dance work that “explores observations on being part of a community in the throes of creation”, according to Foster-Sproull’s introduction in the programme. A very talented New Zealand choreographer, Foster-Sproull has developed, with her collaborators, a work of complexity, energy, enigma, and the powerful dynamics of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, creative and symbolic elements evident in a community of dancers, or indeed, in any community of people.

COLT, according to Foster-Sproull
“could be a gun. It could be a horse. It could be a toy gun pointed at a horse. Held by a dancer in a neutral coloured costume. The dancer might be under the influence of instructions. They may be being used in a representational manner. Something akin to a human metaphor or the expression of someone else’s feeling. This dancer person can jump like a maniac, in order to indicate dancerly-ness. Watch them wash their brain of all the good and all the bad. Watch, from the safety of your seat. Watch them answer all the important questions.”

It’s a huge challenge to express, in words, the dynamism of a dance work such as COLT and a dance company such as Footnote. I quickly cease to be a watcher, an observer, as I am drawn from my seat into the experience of this work. I become a participant, from the first musical moments and the emergence of Reynaud with his articulate golden hands and intense gaze, to the last minutes of Cameron’s ‘assassination’, the ritualistic, horse-headed dance of unity and non-human-ness, and the driving musical rhythms.

I experience moments of unity, rejection, isolation, collaboration, supporting and comforting, team-building, enlightenment, extreme angst, vulnerability, individuality, ritual and collective identity, all packaged in an energetic, dynamic, risky and highly demanding and dazzling display of contemporary dance. An internal voice that screams for expression is externalised in voice and written word. Symbols of power, enlightenment and gut-wrenching effort are developed and expressed in the rhythms of heartbeats or firings of nerve synapses.   At times I hear myself say, “How many ways can bodies and body parts interlace and relate?” and I am reminded of how dance embodies both the myriad of unseen internal and external exchanges of life and of being human, as well as being its own unique form of expression, communication and exchange.

I am reminded of medieval rituals, cults, classical literature and mythology, of ‘slogging your guts out’, self-emptying, extremes of focus, concentration, self-regard, felt interpersonal connections, blank canvases, puppets, mirror-gazing, and striving to excel, please, and to satisfy and be satisfied.

As they work in solo, duet, trio, quartet, quintet and whole group expressions, each dancer merges or emerges with great skill, and all props appear and disappear without apparent effort.  

As it is difficult to express the work in words, so it is also difficult to speak about the dancers, individually. Alice Macann, Emily Adams, Emmanuel Reynaud, Levi Cameron, Olivia McGregor and Rose Philpott each portray their particular and stunning characteristics of strength, flexibility, virtuosity, passion, individuality, and ability to support and blend with the moments of mass activities. Each brings moments of pensiveness, forcefulness, individual expressivity, intense focus, articulation of body and face, energy and commitment. These highly trained and experienced dancers give the appearance of being breath-takingly ready to engage with the audience, themselves, each other and the dance work, whatever the cost physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and creatively. Thus, I find myself unable to mention specific individual moments of brilliance, since, in doing so, I fear I might do injustice to the others who gave equally compelling performances.

Eden Mulholland’s soundtrack is stunning and remains with me long after the performance ends. His sound track features driving rhythms, cello, piano, electronic and other sounds, together with the commanding spoken voice, the silences, and the dancers’ individual voices and chants. Mulholland’s work blends as seamlessly as any collaboration should, without diminishing the power of the individual artist working in his own milieu.   

Thus, the sound track remains with me after the performance ended. But, along with this are striking and moving images and moments of dance and the pulsating rhythmic blending of sound and dance and light. As I leave the theatre I am confronted by pulsing coloured Christmas lights foregrounding the flashing lights of a passing ambulance and I feel as if the theatre experience has spilled out of the performance space and into the street.

Finally, of course, there is Deirdre Tarrant. Her unstinting commitment, vision, creative perseverance, and unwavering belief in dance, dancers and choreographers, have led to this particular ending and beginning in the life of Footnote. 


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Fitting tribute from dancers

Review by Ann Hunt 27th Aug 2013

On stage at the work’s conclusion, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown aptly described it as “extraordinary, disturbing and beautiful”.

The evening was a significant one for Footnote Dance, as it honoured the commitment and skill of artistic director Deirdre Tarrant, who retires from this role at the end of the year. It was also the final Made in New Zealand programme. This was the first time a full length work by one choreographer, Sarah Foster-Sproull, had featured under the Made in New Zealand umbrella. It is an appropriate work to end the series on, as it illustrated so well the tireless energy, talent and dedication of the current six Footnote dancers: Emily Adams, Levi Cameron, Alice Macann, Olivia McGregor, Rose Philpott and Emmanuel Reynaud. Foster-Sproull also acknowledges the choreographic input from the dancers.

Colt is Foster-Sproull’s best work in many years. Inspired by her own experiences of working in the dance community, it explores observations of being part of a community in the throes of creation and the dangers of manipulation by a director, guru, or even a politician, at a stretch.

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Inexhaustibly committed dancing

Review by Jillian Davey 22nd Aug 2013

The beginning of the end of Footnote’s Made in New Zealand programme started last night.  There have been six tours of works by the likes of Malia Johnston, Claire O’Neill, Ross McCormack, and many others, set to music by a range of Kiwi musicians.  Last night, at the Wellington Opera House, the seventh tour kicked off.

This was the first time a full-length work has been on offer in Made in New Zealand (there have been several other full-length works presented by Footnote of course). And full it was.  Sarah Foster-Sproull’s “Colt” is a highly physical, and at times, maniacal look into ritual, cultism, and brain washing.  The title’s ambiguity (the programme notes declare it can be a gun, a horse, or a toy gun pointed at a horse.. . it even sounds a bit like “cult”) seems impossible to link, yet at by the end, it cleverly does.   It has religious references for sure, but the work examines the proselytized ideals behind a community of religious fanatics  more than the religion itself. ..this religion being non-specific and all-encompassing.  In the case of “Colt” it’s represented sometimes by a deeply resonating, and demanding voice, and at other times, by an almighty unicorn goddess espousing love, community, and blind acceptance.  This goddess  has hints of the Madonna, Kali, and a Mother Earth figure.   It sounds off-the-wall, and it is, but it’s one of the great shocking moments that the work needed to survive its length.

The work flowed from vignette to vignette without any hesitation (or hint of exhaustion) from Footnote’s six dancers.  Their commitment to every move and phrase was impressive.  There were brief moments where an inclusion seemed surplus to need, making me think the only reason it was included was to give each dancer the showcase they were due.  I would have preferred the exclusion of some duets and trios in favour of a deeper look into the more poignant moments.  For example, (and I’m trying not to give too much away) when the gun finally did emerge I expected a great tension and a huge bang to make the audience jump.  It didn’t quite make it to that point.

If this is the last of Made In New Zealand before Footnote changes its artistic direction, I hope it’s not the end of “Colt”.  I’d love to see it again in a year or so with a bit of development.  And like a strange, compelling  book you love to read over and over again, I’m sure the audience, and perhaps the performers too, would find new details and new ways of approaching the subject.

Final thoughts: 75 minutes of inexhaustibly committed dancing, a strange and wonderful look at some strange and heavy topics, and clever (if not surreal) use of props to bring it all together.


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