Juxtapositions: a mixed bill

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

09/02/2019 - 09/02/2019

Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa 2019

Production Details

Juxtapositions: Choreographers Zahra Killeen-Chance and Aloalii Tapu 
Basement Studio 

Zahra Killeen-Chance: Shadow of Ease

Shadow of Ease, is a solo performance choreographed and performed by Zahra Killeen-Chance, with music composed by Emi Pogoni. It is a surreal performance where the performer is simultaneously real and ghostly, embodied and disembodied. This dance work draws attention to an ambiguous play between dualities, what is seen and unseen, heard and unheard. This work was performed at Performance Art Week Aotearoa (PAWA) in Wellington, 2018.

Aloalii Tapu: “Dancing like a white guy” Excerpts from Goodbye Naughton (40 mins)

Pacific Dance Festival and Aloalii Tapu presented – “Goodbye Naughton” earlier in 2018. 

Aloalii Tapu introduced his first full-length dance-theatre work on his home soil. Premiering in South Auckland earlier this year, Goodbye Naughton pays homage to the people, places and experiences that have shaped the life of the artist: Naughton Aloalii Tapu. Drawing from discussions with family and friends, Goodbye Naughton journey’s through the realities of being “the man” from Otara, cultural expectations, postcolonialism and the sources of Aloalii’s dance vocabulary.

Accompanied by his friends and singers, Chris Taito and Uati Tui, Goodbye Naughton celebrates community with the desire to bridge the gap from loneliness to support, from imagination to empathy and from silence to discussion.

Goodbye Naughton is dedicated to the people of South Auckland.


Evening performances: $25/18 conc or group, other deals for the week or 2 for 1 at Basement Theatreand iticket
Workshops: $15/10 conc
Offsite performances times/places tbc: Free of charge
Talks/discussions: Free of charge
One on one performance: Free of charge

PROMOCODE: Students with ID: LOVE2019 ($15 performances, $5 workshops) Maximum of 40.

Workshops Group 4+ Get a group together of 4 or more to a Workshop and pay only $10 each
Performances Group 4+ Get a group together of 4 or more to a Performance and pay only $18 each
2 Tickets for $30 2 (Adult) Tickets for different performance/workshops for only $30
All Performances Only A ticket to all 5 x Performances across the week for $75
All Sessions A ticket to all 14 x Performances & Workshops across the week for $115

Performance installation , Performance Art , Pasifika contemporary dance , Multi-discipline , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

90 mins

Part 2: Proto-colonial exchange - from hilarity to silence

Review by Jess Holly Bates 20th Feb 2019

Aloalii Tapu is the definition of disarming. He walks out of the audience, introduces himself, sets up some chairs. Experimental Dance Week Aotearoa is a lo-fi festival, to be sure, but somehow Lii makes us feel more welcome than we already did. It feels like we are sitting in his lounge, and a warmer end to the week could not be imagined. With languid relaxation, he explains his offering for the night. This is an excerpt from his full-length work Goodbye Naughton, which premiered in June 2018. He has “recruited” several of his co-performers “specially” from South Auckland.

This is the first of many giggles of the night, and we are all complicit in the joke. Aloalii is abundantly aware of the proto-colonial exchange between audience and performer, and his aside parodies the desire loaded into that transaction. Put simply, the white gaze (as a cultural mode of watching we have all inherited) – desires a kind of ‘repressive authenticity’ of any POC performers. Aloalii is the master of cutting this desire off at the pass – in case we have any questions (even deeply subconscious questions) about brown authenticity, he can certify – these guys are all card-carrying South Auckland representatives.

Drawing formally on physical theatre composition and movement, the five brown stars use synchronicity, impulse and some killer comedic timing to activate the stage space. We laugh, often. But after a time, I begin to ask why. Certainly these performers know how to milk their moment, performing a po-faced satire of abstract movement. Some bodies are certainly more articulate than others, and the disparity has a hilarious charm. This is certainly Lii’s point – of all the performers, he explicitly explains, he has been “taught to dance like a white guy.” His signature style is an exquisite integration of contemporary dance, hip-hop and Samoan dance. The other bodies in the space, while captivating, do not carry the same set of stories or training.

So again, why do we laugh? One wonders if is it the absurdity of the thing out of place: is it white dance vocabulary on brown bodies? The question is not a small one – it betrays all the colonial privilege bedded into the high arts, and we are complicit, but not in a good way. After a time, the discomfort of something like this question rises in the audience – no-one is laughing. The performers do not let the comedy be the final word, their work continues. They go until it is not funny, until it is what it is, and they have given themselves permission to be more than just a gag. They go until we see our own gaze. This is Lii’s great skill in this work, to cultivate a room that remains soft despite hard questions. It feels like manaakitanga, giving us space to unveil our still colonised corners of ourselves, while gently carving space for brown bodies to exist on this stage. It is generous work, and I am grateful for it. I only wish there wasn’t quite so much work left to do.  


Make a comment

Part 1: Shadow of Ease

Review by Jess Holly Bates 11th Feb 2019

How to say hello to a shroud-mammal complex

We are in the Basement. We are upstairs. We are watching Zahra Killeen-Chance’s solo work Shadow of Ease. I’m trying to figure out how to feel about it. That process isn’t going well.

Zahra is one of her (now signature) creatures, a shrouded modernist a-morphism in monochrome white. I’ve seen these things before, see: a figure exhales, or breath of air series. Watching Zahra is sometimes like watching butoh on a tightrope – it feels absurd, and assured, and still carries this coil of dramatic tension that never quite unwinds. Talking to my mother-in-law before the piece began, I described Zahra’s work as ‘slow and restrained.’ As we settle in, Shadow of Ease feels like neither. I regret my choice of words.

I’m flipping through the mental file-o-fax. ’Precise’? ‘Comedic’? ‘Satirical’? ‘Bare’? ‘Horsey’? Not for the first time, I feel the inherent slipperiness of Zahra’s work. It makes me feel silly trying to pin it down. It’s an umbrella that won’t stop turning inside out when everyone is looking. It’s my job to keep looking, though – so I’ll try here:

The experience of shadow of ease is – unsettling. Emi Pogoni’s sound design feels like a rubbing, a sawing, a beat and a church organ. There is a mechanical cry, like a computer testing the function of the human instrument. The Zahra-shroud assemblage has only a mouth and feet visible. She puts her orifice to good use in a wide soundless gape – this amorphous blob can lip-sync!

The repetition of this wail, drained of all emotion – somehow too symmetrical, or repetitious – makes me feel we are watching a creature writing code for their own nervous system. The work feels like a moving defence strategy – her/their movement is relational. They know we are here. They can feel it. What will they do about it? We watch strategies of survival – the semantics of the shoulders and back for the art of protection, the teeth/mouth fight mechanics of a hiss and finally the disorienting seduction of an audience by this formless sock-on-legs. All the hallmarks of a mammal, but without the eyes to permit us to sink into limbic matter – we cannot connect. We can only witness, and the performance is framing us as predators, whatever that means through the worldview of a shroud-mammal-complex.

The spotlight in the space space pins it/her/them with the headlight vulnerability of a stand-up comic. There is even the brick wall to boot. Whatever they/her/it attempt, they are not well-evolved to escape this space. They might be a horse, or a praying mantis, or a butterfly. The movements feel pre-programmed. And it/they/her begin to sense they might not survive their encounter with us. The tension is building as we watch this creature trapped in the cul-de-sac of their own distressed vocabulary. When the final cry falls out, it is the voice of the body on stage at last – high, girly, present and exhausted.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council