Here Now

Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin

03/04/2008 - 05/04/2008

Dunedin Fringe 2006-9

Production Details

Intimate, vital, dynamic. The premiere of two compelling solos on migration and arrival. Kiwi: return of the long lost relative by Liana Yew (Best Female Dancer ’06, The Listener) and Landing by Claire Lissaman. New dance unafraid to question itself and ourselves; our multiple identities, our fictions, our contradictions.

April  3 4 5
Venue:  Allen Hall Theatre
Time:  8.30pm (Duration 45mins)
Prices:  Full $12 Concession $9
Tickets: To Book Text Name, No. seats & Date to 021 781 559 

Here Now

Review by Lyne Pringle 07th Apr 2008

Here Now comprises a shared programme of two dance solos, each exploring the theme of place and identity.

The pace and deliberateness in the opening section of Claire Lissaman’s solo Landing evokes the drift of continents across the fluidity of the earth’s crust: leading us to the journeys of immigrants from one continent to another landfall amidst the oceans of the planet.

There is a calm sliding serenity and strength that lulls the eye; beauty and light – eloquently designed by Martyn Roberts – held in the cup of flesh; ship creaking breath in the sails of fine aural accompaniment from composers Hermione Johnson and Nell Thomas. Swirl skid progress, faceless in bagpipe drone, body bent forward on all fours, progressing upwards to final standing snug on the ground.

Second section: a process and a journey; skin shed on stage and new skin slithered into. Bush shirt and bright red tights no longer on the sea but now mapping land to find the personality of the place with movements like semaphore to twangley music; sound and movement sitting well together as the dancer traces the spaces between the angularity of her body. Searching for rightness, for a sense of place. Arms hug the body then escape to become signals on tiptoes beside railway lines across the planes of the imagination in twisted awkward self-consciousness that builds to a clock ticking crescendo. 

At one point jilted staccato moves suggest a crazy weather vane. Now a statue in the town square arms and legs in line hold a pose until it can’t work anymore then time to move on.

Discard this skin for black dress sheath to the sound of your breathing and move into third section: an orbit. Mouthorgan sound and body in gentle soft swirl with a great spatial sense and clear momentum pathways. There is golden light, a knee spin, hands and feet connect to the ground before Claire Lissaman tosses her arms mapping her own tiny planetary orbit; we are in the cosmos now, the place of other ceaseless orbits.

There is mesmeric purity and authenticity. In the final section music and movement are again beautifully matched to clear physical explorations but this section needs more choreographic meat to maintain focus. The dancer orbits the stage and our ears are left with the sound of her walking as she seeks ‘A constant, incompleteable attempt to find presentness’.

Overall the work could explore a greater dynamic range in terms of rhythm and pace.

Liana Yew’s lighthouse light searching, falls upon her cultural identity and illuminates her journey in the solo Kiwi, to the beginning of understanding her place as a second generation Chinese New Zealander. 

With the stirring words, "I belong here; I have lived her all my life," Liana Yew – with her body, projections and old tape recordings – describes the navigation between two sets of co-ordinates, China and New Zealand. This is such a new experience for me, to see a Chinese person expressing the quest for her identity in the contemporary dance idiom in the New Zealand context. It holds much interest.

The work begins with projections of Yew’s ancestors and her voice as a spirited young child protesting against parental restraints. Then she begins to move, low to the ground as if conjuring from the earth with very soft spins and deep lunges to the sounds of flutes from composer Joshua Rutter.

At the end of this beginning section Yew sits with her back to us, head turning so the light catches her exquisite profile transforming her into a classic Chinese statue, like a moment in history for us to admire.

Her personal story in voice over is accompanied by video footage of remembered Mt Roskill places culminating in a poignant sequence at her grandfather’s grave with live body and projected Yew jostling for our attention. This suggests a split within the individual, but where should we look? The projected figure is all angular lines whilst onstage the choreography could be developed.

There is one memorable movement that begins with a twirl on the belly then back to standing through a deep squat into an incredibly beautiful and light jump; great freedom in the body. Yew is a gorgeous mover, lithe, precise and compelling.

The third section takes us, through projection, to China with grainy footage hurtling high speed down a motorway and through the streets of a village.  The music gives a sense of place as Yew’s voiceover provides specific information about her first visit to China and the realisation that brought, as the movement hots up onstage.

Lovely textures in the soundtrack that evokes myriad movies as strong face and movements transform the dancer into whirling martial arts warrior; the body slashing dynamically to claim a heritage and sense of identity as choreographically the work begins to take off here.

Liana Yew is using several mediums to create a rich tapestry that expresses a unique cultural viewpoint. Finding the right balance between these electronic devices and the live onstage body is a challenge in her work.

Both of these artists are very fine dancers with an enormous expressive range and this was an insightful and moving evening of dance.  As emerging choreographers, if they continue to delve into their own uniqueness, more riches will be revealed.


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