The Q Loft becomes a haven for the latest collation of FRESH dance ideas, a valuable addition to the Tempo Festival programme and sweetly guided by mentors Cat Ruka and Tempo’s Artistic director, Carrie Rae Cunningham. The programme presents dancers and choreographers erupting at the boundaries of audience expectation of quality, cohesion and progression. These are critical planes of contemporary art.
That the evening is professionally set up with adept lighting, operated by Michael Goodwin and stage management cues by Lucie Everett-Brown and Sarah-Louise Collins, speaks therefore to a deliberation – that is to showcase new contemporary work. It is particularly impressive to watch the post event Q&A and listen to the artists explain how they situate their ideas within a dance. On all these terms, FRESH is a future-focused dance space for more than the emerging artists.
There are four works on show this evening. At times, subtlety, coherence and sense of awareness are lost in the jubilance of movement excesses. Xavier Breed presents a remounted version of Point, a charming rendering of self-stamped motifs – of solos and duets and group work. He is yet to demonstrate deeper consciousness towards faceted movement that extends humanity into his dance craft. All of the dancers, Bella Wilson, Fa’asu Afoa-Purcell, Natasha Kohler, Naki Taulanga, Rai Iose and Faith Schuster, dance with clear commitment to one another while Rai Iose and Faith Schuster’s dynamic performances extend the subtlety of performance well beyond the choreographic intent.
In the purpose of FRESH to showcase ‘emerging choreographers’, there is more to be said about tightly choreographed sequences and dancers’ virtuosic ability or expression range. The second work AEGIS (To dislocate the Alpha) by Jacob Tamata and Sandy Fakaua Vukalokalo, is both emerging and interesting. A disconnect between rhythm and pace becomes watchable art. Themes of balance and refinement are somewhat compromised by a hectic music score (unnamed in the programme) and confusing costuming. While the naked half torso of one dancer somewhat references the glitter of the other, there are alternative cultural references in the costumes that distract the watcher from nicely placed themes or what the dance requires. AEGIS deserves the permeation of this early exploration.
Ufitia Sagapolutele choreographs > I < with a filmic backdrop by Mataara Stokes, showing Faith Schuster, Lyncia Muller and Natalia Ione dancing in traditional thoughtful style, costumes by Rosanna Raymond and on stage in a different style, costumes by Francmarie, Layplan. Tentative, emerging choreographic style is there to be witnessed as a new cohesion of dance technique and flow – as the dancers move. The rich inventive space between dance and film provocations for this work also deserves longer rehearsal time.
Gemma-Jayde Naidoo’s TEYVAM is a rumbustious flaunt of female power. Celia Hext, Olivia Martin, Kisha September, Jaimee McLaughlan, Maria Wrasskey-Bulmer and Izzy Brown, dance with outstanding assurance in relation to each other and their stated themes. A strong emerging sense of the place of feminine energy, complexity and creativity that abound at TEMPO, is not always fulfilled in this work and I find myself fathoming whether the performers are made fully aware of choreographed subtleties between sensual and sexual display.
In a nutshell – FRESH is a critical space to think about contemporary dance and a much needed forum to display the courage of choreographers to speak in dance dialectics, to what’s on their mind. For dancers and audiences to listen and respond to our dance community’s sustainability working through supportive and collaborative ways.
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