Home of the Gods

Inverlochy Art School, Inverlochy Place, Te Aro, Wellington

15/10/2021 - 18/10/2021

Production Details

Home of the Gods
Immersive dance theatre with live music and flawed gods
Meet gods of small and insignificant things, gods who can’t get up in the morning and gods who can give you exactly what you want for a price. Follow mortals as they fight to believe in something and gods as they shapeshift, dance and shake the world. Belief turns to vapour as even sceptics fall into the sensual arms of glamorous gods. Live music, live dance and full immersion. A dance work for anyone who has ever doubted or believed in anything at all.
Home of the Gods is inspired by myths and stories from each of the dancers and musicians’ ancestry. We have been inspired by stories from Ireland, Trinidad, Scotland, Angola, England, China, South Africa, Wales, India, Poland, Nigeria, Ghana, Malaysia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Aotearoa.
Due to Level 2 we are doing a very boutique premiere of Home of the Gods
at Inverlochy House (Inverlochy Place off Able Smith)
25 audience per show only for 4 nights

Java Dance Theatre
Artistic Director, Sacha Copland
in collaboration with Emma Coppersmith, Kia Jewell, Ella Williams Bjorn Aslund and musicians Tristan Carter (violin) Simon Eastwood (Double bass) and singer Barbara Paterson

Experimental dance , Dance-theatre , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

60 mins

Unique and immersive experience.

Review by Lyne Pringle 18th Oct 2021

Creator Sacha Copland, at the helm of Java Dance Company who co-create within the frame she has been refining for several years, likes to play an uncomfortable edge, likes messiness and a good dash of the unexpected. 
Home of the Gods, relishes a ramshackle Inverlochy house as a playpen for Gods and mortals. It’s a little seedy with good and bad art plastered on the walls. 

Chaos and order, expectation, mess, helplessness, Tawhirimatea and elements beyond our control. Soft triplets and a hapless trio of low tier Gods boasting of their creations:  sctrotums, stiff necks, dirt, sensitive cars, partners in a law firm eating oysters etc.etc. a panoply of the things of the world, randomly placed in a list, that swirls around three humans to startle, perplex, harrow and amuse. It’s a heady start. Stochastic. Cunningham and Cage look on from the non-existent wings. 

The Gods create things which get dismantled when humans reject them: ‘I don’t believe in weight bearing structures’, thus the tussle of beliefs and wants and desires is played out.

The audience is asked to move. It’s awkward, self-conscious, no sitting back comfortably in front of a proscenium arch here – all part of the plan and an invitation for ‘active’ involvement in the curious intimate event unfolding. The play is as much about the ‘state’ of the audience as it is about the realms the performers inhabit. 

 Reconfigured in a new room with two audience members cosying up in a furry bath, the question comes ‘What do you want’?, delivered with a Jazzy/Fosse type feel. The ghosts of Red Mole are somewhere about too.
A house of wants and creations as choreography appears in a slightly disconnected trio. The aural scape becomes screechy and operatic. Contrasting ‘wants’ – that old story – ricochet off each other, to create clever drama and provoke the watcher to contemplate the ‘wants’ they have on top.

There is even a chance to rest and sleep or die momentarily as the Gods lay the mortals gently down. The jazz riff continues before we ride the roller coaster of ‘falling in love’ for the first time, beautifully played by long time Java Dance Company members Emma Goldsmith and Tristan Carter. Goldsmith brings to this project new strength and an anchored realness in her performance. 

Lynchpin Carter switches to his native perch as a musician. His violin playing tantalizes and bewitches. These performers embody the energy of uncontainable joy. They hold and grow the kaupapa of this innovative company, where there is no separation between musicians and dancers, to create a totally unique and immersive experience. 
Players are caught in Bauschian choreographic traps where the stakes keep rising until something must break. At the completion of this act, the intoxication of being famous becomes tainted as craving, desire and hubris provoke the Gods to become snapping snarling beasts who strip the human bare. The physical energy of this maelstrom in the confined space is terrifying and electric. Beware of your wants and desires!

Stories are carried from room to room, as is their propensity.  The audience moves compliantly from place to place behind covid masks.  The fierce intensity continues and then a pent up powerful stillness  . . . Barbara Paterson, a compelling and willowy figure, weaves a thread around her fellow players who are frozen in a tableau of horror. She sings gently then stops – it would be genius moment to finish the work, all stories suspended, but there is more.

An Ashanti myth about the the gathering of stories is delivered by a coughing (not planned but riveting) Ella Williams who has delved into her Trinidad and Tobago (and before that the people of Ghana in West African) whakapapa to find this gem. The story spills into intricate choreographic weaving which is overly long.

Aural and physical scores are enmeshed, some sounds irk and overstay their welcome but generally the multi layered soundscape is an intriguing element of the whole. Moods flicker through and modes change like quicksilver.
Much of the movement is rough cut. Now that the work is created, returning to the detail of each choreographic or improvisational moment would strengthen the corporeal impact.
Towards the end the work loses momentum and could do with a reshuffle of elements or a trim.

Throughout the whole, these quirky, talented performers inhabit the space with total commitment. Each brings a unique flavour: Bjorn Aslund’s quixotic and distinctive shape shifting; Barbara Paterson’s graceful and provocative talents; Simon Eastwood’s plucky and physical musicianship; Kia Jewell’s arresting and penetrative truth and Ella Williams’s quiet and earthy generosity.

Copland orchestrates the ebb and flow and dynamic life of the work with great skill – her ability as a maker reaches a new level with this production. She is tackling the big conundrums of this worldly existence, which could be a trap, but she pulls it off through artistic maturity, collaboration, deep thinking, research, originality and bravery. 

At times the work feels like psychotherapeutic cult enacting a primal scream ritual.  It sits well within the walls of this ‘home’. Perhaps this is exactly where humanity currently resides, all spun backwards vaulting into confusion and madness, with the capricious and sometimes pernicious gods as animateurs.To reassure us Copland throws in a cheerful jig at the end – like Ashley Bloomfield’s impressive dance moves on Super Saturday – this is a predictable way to wrap things up.


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