06/09/2019 - 21/09/2019
A new immersive dance-theatre work from Stuart Lloyd-Harris and Julia Harvie takes you on a
performance experience behind the barriers of The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora in Ōtautahi
HIVE – which has 20 shows over 12 days starting next Friday 6 September – gives the audience a
unique opportunity to see behind the fences and enter the Engineering Extension, one of The Arts
Centre’s eight yet to be restored heritage buildings. While 15 of the centre’s buildings
have reopened since the 2011 earthquake, the Engineering Extension building has been closed to
the public for more than eight years.
The performance will breathe new life into the building site, integrating cinema, theatre, dance
and live music from cellist Nicole Reddington and composer Andrew McMillan. It brings together
three of Aotearoa’s hottest and most versatile contemporary dance artists – Josie Archer, Kosta
Bogoievski and Melbourne-based Sarah Elsworth. It is a truly multidisciplinary work.
HIVE will absorb you. The show explores how layered social structures and systems influence the
roles we play within society. We spend our lives swinging back and forth between believing we have
more control over the world than we do, and feeling, just as wrongly, that we have none. It
addresses the question of why we are all searching to belong and how we actively and passively
employ tactics and play roles to be a part of society.
Visual artist Lloyd-Harris and choreographer Harvie are keenly aware of giving audiences agency in
their work compared to the traditional theatre-going experience.
“It’s a true privilege to be making a work for this space,” Harvie says.
“We want to give our audiences a sense of ownership and volition within the work and of the space.
We draw on the experience of someone at a music gig, a cabaret or a gallery, where you get
to curate your own experience – lose yourself, sing along, drink, talk and move – and we draw on
all these influences for HIVE. This is very much about ‘the experience’ and how it invites you to
be involved in the ideas of the work.”
Arts Centre chief executive Philip Aldridge says HIVE is dynamic and captivating, reframing both
performance and the unrestored space.
“HIVE redefines what it means to be in the audience as you don high-visibility vests and head into
the out of
bounds here at The Arts Centre to follow the performers around as the story unfolds around you.”
Aldridge says the series, which is a partnership between Lloyd-Harris, Harvie and The Arts Centre,
is part of the rejuvenated centre’s expanding arts and cultural events programme.
“Partnering with other creatives and performers, such as Stuart and Julia, is a core part of The
Arts Centre’s DNA. It helps the community really feel they have ownership of this space, which does
indeed belong to the people of Canterbury and visitors. It also helps us provide greater diversity
in our offerings.”
Lloyd-Harris and Harvie believe it is important to make work that is not easily defined but uses
whatever necessary to explore ideas.
“Performance, like any art form, should ask questions rather than provide answers – it should ask
us to look at the world from different angles and perspectives,” says Lloyd-Harris. “It’s not just
about making something beautiful, but asks us to engage with bigger ideas, gives space for us to
reflect and relate concepts and ideas to our own lives and this can be messy, ugly and maybe even
terrifying, but ultimately, it should transcend the superficial imagery of beauty and connect with
us on a deeper level.”
Don’t miss this opportunity to go beyond the barriers for this unique performance experience!
Dates: Tuesdays to Saturdays from Friday 6 September until Saturday 21 September 2019.
Times: A 7.30pm performance on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 5.30pm and 7.30pm
performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Cost: $17.50 for students (ID required) and children and $27.50 for adults.
Buy: Tickets are on sale now from artscentre.org.nz/events/hive/
For more information, please contact:
Communications and engagement manager The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora firstname.lastname@example.org
027 609 7973
(03) 364 9725
Performance installation , Contemporary dance ,
Sophisticated, enriching, immersive
Review by Erin Harrington 07th Sep 2019
HIVE is a sophisticated and enriching immersive performance that combines dance, theatre, site-specific installation, rhythmic video projections, and live and pre-recorded music. Created by dance artist Julia Harvie and visual artist Stuart Lloyd-Harris, the production considers, amongst other things, how the social and physical structures of the past collapse into the present, and we (as a nascent community, as individuals), look forward to the future. It makes terrific use of a space within the neo-Gothic Christchurch Arts Centre complex, which was badly damaged in the earthquakes, and which has been undergoing one of the largest heritage restoration projects of its type in the in the world. There’s an unabashed sense of curiosity as we head (wearing hi-viz, Canterbury chic) into the partially restored Engineering extension. It once acted as the home of the Court Theatre, and before that a Canterbury College lecture theatre; in the future it will act as something else that brings people together.
We are welcomed into the dim space by dancers Sarah Elsworth, Kosta Bogoievski and Josie Archer, who are dressed in simple skirts and smocks, and who divide us into our groups: workers, queens and drones. A dreamy projected video reminds us to experience, to look after one another, to enrich one another. Someone near me whispers that it feels a bit like Black Mirror, but this production has no interest in anything dystopian, even if the soft, sing-song tones and the benign expressions of the performers would raise alarm bells in another context. Instead, HIVE is interested in how we choose to and are forced to live with one another, and the implications of our interconnectedness on other people and our environment.
In the first half of the performance we are led, in our assigned groups, through the maze-like pathways that are created by tall sacks of heritage material: wooden beams, collections of floorboards, all marked and tagged and ready for eventual reinstallation or re-appropriation. It’s a hazy space lit in pinks and purples and pooled with shadow. A shimmering electronic score textures the space. This gives a sense of warmth and closeness that offsets the fact that it’s pretty bloody cold, the mist of our breaths mingling with the thick, sweetly-scented theatre smoke.
Our leaders take us gently through a series of activities, or perhaps meditations, that reflect upon the space, its uses, our memories and our relationships to one another. Those who are allergic to any form of audience participation can be safe that there’s nothing ‘gotcha’ or cynical about our participation; instead, it’s an invitation to connect. I am in a group of drones, led by Kosta Bogoievski, and I am taken by the way that his initially descriptive account of how this space might soon look – rococo columns, flying buttresses, images of the best of New Zealand – becomes first breathless and then thrashing and frenzied. The beautiful trappings of the past become a fetish.
Soon we become a more traditional audience, seated in a circle and lighting the performance space with our headlamps. Here the movement work is more emotionally and physically confrontational, as it explores how we might try to exert agency when we have little control. Bogoievski and Archer present a vulnerable, vital duet that marries intense intimacy with frustration, expressing the comfort and the pain that comes from mutual dependency through caresses and pinches. Elsworth’s monologue about petty childhood indiscretions opens up space for more demanding and abstract physical and vocal expressions of resentment. Bodies twist and strike; the production’s gentle temp ramps up; voices strain. The dancers are accompanied by cellist Nicole Reddington, whose electronically amplified performance is by turns yearning, urgent and melancholy, punctuated by grunts and sighs. This is the sort of stuff that lodges a lump square in my throat – how can we live together, when to be together is also to be both alone and overwhelmed by the immutable fact of our unremitting connectedness?
By the end, though, we are able to move through the hall freely with a new perspective, as it is now both a fixed space that channels us through life, and an open playground in which we can run and hide. We can also reconsider the recurring motifs in the show’s dance vocabulary: the tapping and flicking of fingers, the running hands down faces in relief and frustration, shake it off. HIVE finishes with a joyous and rushing sense of energy as we are invited to dance in a celebration of our relationships and the opportunities they bring. It’s a gorgeous, textured production about the power of community, and an exquisite use of the Arts Centre’s developing space, that will leave your heart full.
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