FRESH is an annual Tempo showcase sharing the works of emerging choreographers. This year’s programme has clearly followed an agenda of diversity, featuring a range of dance genres from early career dance makers and performers. This results in a programme of works with something for everyone.
First up is Fierce, choreographed by Ardon England. We see a hooded figure slumped on a throne, serenaded by an offstage voice singing “Pretty Hurts” by Beyoncé. It needs a bit more pacing to be really engaging here but we get the gist. Key words obviously stand out that connect with the image: aspiration, perfection, dismay. England is joined by his four female back up dancers. The message appears to be a fierce sort of feminism but I sense a disconnect between the central idea and the choreographic decisions. Formations are created to support England as the central figure, often with the women placed at lower levels than him, fawning over his body as cliché seduction prevails. A conventional movement vocabulary perhaps requires a deeper physical understanding as it attempts to support the imitations of fierceness.
Muamua (first) is created by Joash Fahitua and explores ‘my first story written’. Muamua, performed by Kaya Campi and Leighton Rangi, explores a connection, a birthing, a creation process. The piece is musically quite predictable but the contact partnering is interesting and well executed with moments of surprise.
Looked In is the gem of the evening, flawlessly performed by Xin Ji, Monique Westerdal and Xiao Chao Wen. Ji has created an intense, slightly humorous, bewildering and clever work based on the idea that “sometimes the person with the loudest mind has the quietest mouth”. The composition of the work is spatially and rhythmically captivating and each section of the piece presents us with a new well explored idea. Verbal diarrhoea ensues and there are too many ‘cooks’ in the conversation. The performances are authentic, understated, complemented by some seamless dancing. More please.
Ranthambhore, by ARTHAM Dance Company is a riveting contemporary piece utilising classical Indian dance movement as a base. Created by Bhuvana Venkat, the piece features a lizard character, exceptionally well performed, who takes us on a journey through an Indian night safari. The piece is engaging, slightly comical at all the right moments, and very well staged. Each performer shares their unique interpretation of the movement whist maintaining a strong connection with the group.
Finally, KNOWYOURSELF, created and performed by Lauren Byrne and Emma Martin concludes the evening. Two bubble blowers (bedazzlers) activated by Byrne and Martin connect various extended movement sequences. They flit, they fly, it is beautiful, but at times I don’t know why. They are two very able movers with a fantastically diverse movement vocabulary but the piece could do with some editing and perhaps a little more context.
Emerging dance makers and performers deserve our support and feedback. The early stages of a choreographic or performing career need performance experiences like those offered by FRESH for choreographers to continue to learn their craft and be supported by their communities.
To book tickets for Tempo shows see the Q Theatre website: http://qtheatre.co.nz/
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