Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

19/02/2013 - 21/02/2013

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

28/02/2013 - 03/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2013

Production Details


Black Sheep Productions presents
A theatrical choreography by Natalie Maria Clark

Let’s be honest: Being an adult involves far too many rules. People are a strange and wonderful bunch so you’re going to need to know how to deal with them. I know the prospect of actual human interaction is terrifying. But don’t worry. You just sit there. We’ll do all the dancing and talking and stuff.

Following two glowing reviews at The Body Festival in Christchurch, Black Sheep Productions rcontinues to impart their insider experience on normality. With an original soundtrack by Wellington composer Emi Pogoni, the show catapults viewers into a bizarre and restless urban world. The protagonist intersects this world as she recounts the certainty of childhood and figures out how to deal with ‘adult people’.

“… an incredibly well developed and mature concept … for somebody so young … Clark’s talent across a range of mediums is manifest …”
– Kate Sullivan, Theatreview

Black Sheep Productions is the pseudonym that Natalie Maria Clark choreographs under. Natalie and her collaborators, Sofia McIntyre and Sarah Elsworth, are all 2011 graduates of Unitec’s Performing and Screen Arts programme. 

Audiences who caught the excerpt of this show as part of Fresh Cuts at Tempo Dance Festival will now have the chance to catch the whole piece in all its glory.
“… raw, evocative and humble …” – The Press
“… endearing … poignant … funny … a thoughtful choreography”
– Linda Ashley, Theatreview

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS AND STILL APPEAR NORMAL plays 19th – 21st February, 7:30pm

Duration: 50 minutes

Location: Musgrove Studio, Maidment Theatre, 8 Alfred Street, Auckland

Tickets: $18.50/$14.50

Bookings: or 09 308 2383

For more information contact: Natalie Maria Clark 021 027 21026

1 hr

Clearly articulated ideas and desperate dance

Review by Virginia Kennard 05th Mar 2013

A self-proclaimed ‘theatrical choreography’, this is a fitting term for a dance work with text as narrative, dialogue with each other and with the audience, as well as projection in its early scenes. This work is developing well, having been presented at The Body, Tempo and the Auckland Fringe and on to the Dunedin Fringe after this season. The clarity of ideas is refreshing, looking at how Clark attempts to interact with the world and how the world reacts to her attempts. Normal or not.

Clark launches into an introduction of the work and her role herein. This introduction becomes the slow deterioration of her self-esteem as she defines herself and her various titles and contribution. It is delightful and allows the audience a real sense of what is to come.

This work is not about pretty dance, or virtuosity – there is desperation here, bodies that are searching. Projected text asks, “Can I be all of it” and questions “what is it to be human”, questions of weight, but not overly angst-driven. It becomes clear throughout the work that these are questions and angsts of the director Natalie Maria Clark, as at times the two other performers become back-up dancers. Clark is clearly a different character – costumed differently, spending much of her time to the forefront of the stage (nice raised platform BATS by the way) and has the most engaged speeches with and to the audience.

That this work is about Clark primarily, or an exaggerated awkward persona thereof, works for the most part; Sofia McIntyre and Sarah Elsworth put forward powerful performances and Clark could allow their duets to really flourish by minimising some of her solos. Home video footage is a little self-indulgent, and how her performers tend to react to her rather than vice versa. This self-indulgence though, gives the audience a deeper understanding of Clark’s questioning, the awkwardness one feels when making friends, fitting in.

Here lies the beauty of this piece, that the audience can find a bit of themselves within this awkward character. It is not simply a young person entering the world and figuring out their place, it is any of those moments where we are figuring out how to be normal within a greater context. 

This theatrical choreography has choreography in it too – movement-wise the highlight occurs early on with the three bodies in a vertical line facing the back. Moody one-sided side lighting ripples over almost bare backs that indulge in twisting necks and spiraling spines. Hands push over faces and arms as if asking “What is my body?” Audio that haunts and hums, the vocals of Flo Wilson reaching out and grabbing the audience. Emi Pogoni’s composition of street sounds and typewriter-esque bings are a perfect marriage with this work.

Dance walking should be outlawed in this work – walking that is so carefully considered that it becomes effected and distracting.

Various movement phrases throughout use known (and somewhat tired) contemporary dance vocabulary but the execution is what is important. There is desperation: grab hold flick stare, throw catch push hold. There is frustration: hair twisting, abusive partnering (but strangely with equal power shifts). There is dance ranting: constant (and over-used) dynamic of quick, precise power to pause and stand, trapped head between knees, hunching over chairs, wrists flicking, standing, staring, McIntyre the most compelling blank stare. A clear beginning middle and end within the narrative, with movement motifs that do not seem to cross over, which is a shame.   

A weighty work, with clearly articulated ideas and desperate dance.


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Auckland Fringe Festival - dance, week 1

Review by Raewyn Whyte 22nd Feb 2013

The opening week of this year’s Auckland Fringe offers two well-considered contemporary dance works focusing on personal issues which nevertheless have broad relevance no matter what age or ethnicity the audience member might be.

How to Make Friends and Still Appear Normal is an hour-long work which explores the question of what it is to be normal in the face of social pressures to conform and the unpredictable nature of social interaction. It also takes a close look at the way friends try to help one another when faced by difficult or embarrassing social situations which are likely to recur, and how easy it is for best intentions to go awry.

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Poignant... and a bit tongue in cheek

Review by Briar Wilson 20th Feb 2013

A lot of people who have friends see themselves as normal, but now Natalie Maria Clark asks if we can be sure about all this.

The piece starts with dancers Sarah Elsworth and Sofia McIntyre, sternly dressed in black and white, impassively waiting for us, the audience.  Elsworth has a suitcase.  Then Clark takes over the stage to show herself as someone who is unsure, who is practising being confident – but isn’t anxious as she tries out various spoken introductions.

Interesting messages appear on the backdrop – advice such as “eye contact is important”, what her mother says, comments such as “I hate words”, “better to think less”, “just can’t decide”, “I don’t understand people”, “I’m normal” as Clark sits watching as if to learn.  All pretty normal, that.

McIntyre drags back in the suitcase with rags attached like knotted sheets ready for escape out the bedroom window and Elsworth emerges as Clark talks more to the audience.  McIntyre and Elsworth dance together to bouncy folk type music – it’s not just having fun, but neither is there anything wishy-washy here.

The next dance scene is stunning.  The three, in a line running back from the front of the stage, in pale flesh coloured pants and bra, move with slow caressing fluidity, now to more serious music, in unison, but as if each is in her private world.

This ends with the contrast of Elsworth and McIntyre getting back into their black and white in control gear, Clark also donning a black skirt – trying to join them?  And this is where Clark asks “Am I normal?“.  The lights go on, we the audience are told that “you can leave if you want to”, and McIntyre and Elsworth take seats amongst us from where they correct Clark’s moves as if they are now judging Clark.  She ends up hiding her head in the suitcase.

We also see Clark in an interview setup, controlled by the other two, and in a video as a child in a winning dance group – so is she still really not grown up and in control of herself?

The story moves on with a pure dance sequence with first one, then the other, acting as the comforter, and then becoming antagonistic.  They push one another around roughly, Elsworth pulling Clark about by the hair.  Friends but not always friendly, and Clark ends up wrapped in a bright red blanket.  But there is more yet for Clark to endure – more advice and an apple shoved at her to take bites.  The piece finishes with Clark setting up two more uneaten apples with hers in a line in front of her then dousing herself with water from a bowl – not self-punishment, rather a cleansing to get herself back to her nomality?

The work is thoughtfully produced, directed and choreographed by Clark, beautifully danced with expressive movement. It is entertaining, funny at times while also poignant, and a bit tongue in cheek.  The music (composer Emi Pogoni) fits around the movement, and the whole makes good theatre.



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