Kiss the Sky

Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna, Auckland

29/06/2017 - 01/07/2017

Opera House, Wellington

01/05/2019 - 01/05/2019

Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

06/04/2019 - 07/04/2019

SIT Centrestage Theatre, Invercargill

10/04/2019 - 10/04/2019

Festival of Colour 2019

Southland Festival of the Arts 2019

Production Details



A constellation of original dance, live music and design from Aotearoa, Korea and Australia

MEDIA RELEASE: Tuesday, February 12:  The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) forges its stellar national and international reputation for powerful contemporary dance with its first national tour of Kiss The Sky, “a diverse magical experience” that “grabs your attention from start to finish” (DANZ).

Following their acclaimed Auckland premiere season in 2017, NZDC presents Kiss The Sky this April and May in Kerikeri, Wanaka, Invercargill, Wellington, New Plymouth, Nelson and Hamilton.

Tickets to all performances will go on sale today from

NZDC Artistic Director Shona McCullagh showcases an Asian-Pacific constellation of original dance, music, and design, reflecting on the themes of nature and time.

In Kiss The Sky, McCullagh combines the high-octane physicality of Korean choreographer and composer KIM Jae Duk in his work Sigan; the vibrant aesthetic of New Zealand’s Victoria Colombus in her world premiere work The Fibonacci; and expands into a triple bill for the May leg of the tour with the powerhouse choreography of renowned Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake in the eccentric and imaginative If Never Was Now  for “an evening of sensory indulgence” (Theatreview).

KIM Jae Duk’s quartet Sigan, commissioned for NZDC, draws from the dual themes of meditation and attack. A dynamic score created by Jae Duk himself features traditional Korean instruments: jang-gu (drum), kkwaenggwari (small gong) and jing (large gong) within a contemporary composition. The stunning dancers of NZDC shine in Sigan, which is “…not only visually, but technically flawless” (DANZ).

Victoria Colombus’ new work The Fibonacci, co-commissioned by the Festival of Colour and NZDC, is a reflection on the hidden pattern that weaves us together and reflects the harmony of our world. In a tribute to the memory of New Zealand arts management luminary Susan Paterson (formerly of Limbs, Royal NZ Ballet and New Zealand Festival), this commission is also generously supported by Jane Vesty, Greg Fahey and Brian Sweeney of SweeneyVesty.

Colombus, alongside sound and spatial designer Rowan Pierce use the mathematical Fibonacci sequence and its mysterious golden spirals as a point of departure, examining and creating a physical language that at its heart explores energy pathways through movement, as the connecting force between us all.

Stephanie Lake’s If Never Was Now is a surreal hive of buzzing activity reflecting the beauty and brutality of the natural world through “… moments of darkness, violent aggression, frustration with chaos amongst playfulness” (Theatreview). Somewhere in the future, Lake, who is one of the world’s most innovative choreographers, allows room for ambiguity with the contrast of the digital and robotic world paired against the biological and natural.

With lighting design by Jo Kilgour and Ben (Bosco) Shaw, costume by Elizabeth Whiting  and Andrew Treloar, set by Rachael Walker and additional music by Robin Fox, the works in this programme have been described as “timeless beauty” (Manu Van Acker) during NZDC’s recent tour of Europe.

Witnessing the exceptional ”versatility, virtuosity and artistry” from the high-calibre NZDC dancers and “excellence of the design and production teams” (NZ Herald), Kiss The Sky will leave you dreaming for more.

NZDC DANCERS:  Carl Tolentino, Chrissy Kokiri, Katie Rudd, Xin Ji, Chris Clegg and Ngaere Jenkins


Double Bill including Sigan and The Fibonacci

UPSURGE Festival  –  John Dalton Theatre, Turner Centre, Kerikeri, Bay of Islands                                                              Tuesday, 2 April at 7.30pm

Festival of Colour –  Lake Wanaka Centre                                                                                                                     Saturday, 6 April at 7.00pmand  Sunday, 7 April 2019 at noon

Southland Arts Festival – InvercargillSIT Centrestage Theatre                                                                       
Wednesday, 10 April at 7.30pm

Triple Bill including Sigan, The Fibonacci and If Never Was Now

Wellington – The Opera House                                                                                                                                                    Wednesday, 1 May at 7.30pm

New Plymouth – TSB Theatre   Saturday, 4 May at 7.30pm

Nelson- Theatre Royal  Thursday, 9 May at 7.30pm

Hamilton – Clarence St Theatre   Tuesday, 14 May at 7.30pm


2018 Premiere season

Artistic Director Shona McCullagh combines three exceptional international choreographers from Aotearoa, Korea and Australia on the theme of the seasons, the southern sky and time, presented to coincide with the Matariki (Māori New Year) Festival.

NZDC is delighted to present its first commission from Asia to Korean choreographer/composer KIM Jae DukSigan (time) draws from the twin themes of meditation and attack, featuring a dynamic score featuring traditional Korean instruments within a contemporary composition.

Multi-award-winning choreographer New Zealander Sue Healey presents The Seasons Retouched set to composer Max Richter’s ‘Recomposed’. This work touches on images of the seasons and changing weather, combined with a formal architectural approach to the choreography. Hailed as the most influential composer of his generation, Max Richter’s music will be played live by Blackbird Ensemble. This work features AV design by Augusto. (2018 Premiere season only)

Renowned Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake will present If Never Was Now. Described as “eccentric and whimsical with a playful, riotous edge… urgent and brilliantly unpredictable”, the work is a surreal hive of buzzing activity reflecting the beauty and brutality of the natural world.

Presented with Auckland Live, Kiss the Sky opens at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna on Thursday 29 June and runs until Saturday 1 July. The season includes special opportunities to connect with The New Zealand Dance Company through an engaging  “whole whānau” workshop and creative pre- and post-show talks.



Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 - 2 hours

Triple bill showcases dance company's development

Review by Lyne Pringle 03rd May 2019

The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC), like a good a wine, is maturing. Regular touring nationally and internationally enables long-term employment of a core of dancers and production staff. Their triple bill Kiss the Sky, curated by chief executive/artistic director Shona McCullagh showcases this development.

Dancers Chrissy Kokiri, Carl Tolentino, Katie Rudd and Xin Ji, alongside recent graduates Ngaere Jenkins and Chris Clegg are an assured unit, moving with effervescent precision in a seasoned repertoire. Production elements are sophisticated and assured. [More]



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Rich contrasts in triple bill

Review by Brigitte Knight 02nd May 2019

First presented in 2017, Kiss the Sky is a variable, multiple-bill production consisting of two or three different works from The New Zealand Dance Company’s repertoire. Currently the NZDC has six dancers; three established company members Chrissy Kokiri, Katie Rudd and Carl Tolentino, Xin Ji who moves between company seasons and independent projects, and two fresh graduates from the New Zealand School of Dance (contemporary stream) Chris Clegg and Ngaere Jenkins. In this iteration, Kiss the Sky is Sigan by KIM Jae Duk, The Fibonacci by Victoria Colombus, and If Never Was Now by Stephanie Lake.

KIM Jae Duk’s Sigan opens the programme, a focussed and structured work of order, impressive speed and precision. The work draws from dual themes of meditation and attack, the movement vocabulary and formations strongly flavoured with pumse/kata (predetermined or set forms of movement or exercises in martial arts). Ji and Kokiri are stylistically suited to Jae Duk’s choreography, resplendent in their accuracy and control. Sigan’s score, created by Jae Duk, features electrified Korean drums and gongs, resulting in a pulsating, challenging sound experience. At times closer to white noise than music, the combination of movement and sound are emotionally isolating and withdrawn. Usually a quartet for Ji, Kokiri, Rudd and Tolentino, Sigan was reworked to include Jenkins to cover sections of Rudd’s movement due to injury.

Choreographed by Victoria Colombus with sound/spatial design by Rowan Pierce, The Fibonacci is warmer, more organic work, well-programmed to create contrast with Sigan. The Fibonacci Sequence and the golden spiral demonstrate the connectivity of the mathematical and the biological, and Colombus’ work explores and develops this theme. Structured loosely with the appealing ‘rising action, climax, falling action’ format, The Fibonacci’s movement vocabulary is fluid and attractive, drifting effortlessly between the natural and the mechanical. Action and reaction, retrograde and repetition are supported by thoughtful golden lighting and well-balanced casting. Kokiri shines in The Fibonacci with a remarkably articulated torso in her soloist work. Exploration of the Fibonacci Sequence could have been richer (see: Mario Merz, 1925-2003) and would benefit from a less predictable ending, however, the overall impression is an inviting and likable work.

Act Two of Kiss the Sky is award-winning Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake’s If Never Was Now. The work seeks to explore and reflect the “…beauty and brutality of the natural world..” with equal parts confrontation, whimsy and humour. Although If Never Was Now’s choreography is swift, original and modern, it isfitting to consider it one of the artist’s minor works. Created for six dancers, the cast is reduced to five due to Rudd’s injury. Fortunately the piece withstands the loss, and feels well-crafted despite some unintended spaces. Lake’s work has a strong aesthetic, and If Never Was Now is no exception; black light on glowing track pants, a circle of white polystyrene beads spread by the dancers and sticking to their increasingly sweaty bodies, dramatic lighting changes. Another challenging and at times unpleasant electronic score, this one composed by Robin Fox, leaves me wishing for melody, live sounds, instruments, musicians. The squeaking polystyrene provides a point of relief here – ambient and unpredictable, but audible and live.


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Equally captivating double bill

Review by Alana Dixon-Calder 11th Apr 2019

From its pulsating opening beats, Kiss the Sky is a show that makes you feel.

A two-part performance, the immediate effect of the first half – Sigan – is one of tension and anxiety; an overwhelming feeling of unease that steadily builds until it reaches a crescendo.

Sigan is a display of athletic physicality; even the most minute turn of a limb is angular and purposeful, and almost violent in its intensity.

Set to a soundtrack that blends traditional Korean drums with a variety of agitated, metallic elements, the audio is key in building the audience’s emotional response to the performance. Screeching alarms and crackling static serve as a warning, underscoring the dancers’ disciplined use of their bodies as they cut across the stage.

The presence of the full orb of a hanging moon – the only set element framing the dancers – seems symbolic of time, the concept of which feels like an underlying current running through Sigan.

Watching the dancers on stage is like viewing an explosive action or martial arts film, but with somebody else in charge of the remote control. Sometimes the energy displayed by the dancers is frenetic and chaotic; at other times, it feels like time has been warped or slowed down.

The Fibonacci, the latter half of the two-pronged show, is equally captivating.

The scene is set with a single dancer curled upon the floor, an urgent orange spotlight dangling above.

The Fibonacci feels, again, like juxtaposition between the organic and the clinical: the single figure on the floor writhes until it becomes a mix of bodies that move in different directions, yet seem to be one. There is an almost embryonic quality to the movement of the pulsating mass before us: a shared thread connects the dancers, even as they move on their own.

The costume change into loose, autumnal-hued attire is in stark contrast to the audio elements of the performance, which again lean heavily on the electronic and sharp. These choices, while they seem in opposition to one another, are a nod to the famed Fibonacci sequence: the mathematical building blocks found within nature.

A scene in which the dancers are backlit, their forms moving as shadows, as they recite the elements of the sequence is particularly intriguing.

Kiss the Sky feels confronting and even, at times, uncomfortable. But it is impossible to tear your eyes away from the energy building, rising and falling, until the inky end. 


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Stellar performances

Review by Jorden Lahood 08th Apr 2019

We are blessed by two stellar performances from The New Zealand Dance Company’s tour of Kiss The Sky.

Korean composer and choreographer Kim Jae Duk pushes the strength and precision of 4 dancers to new heights in his work of ‘Sigan’, a fusion of western and eastern contemporary. The blend is displayed in glides and strikes closely arranged, running and freezing, slapping, clapping, air blasts and immense synchronicity amongst the movers.

We are immediately drawn in by a mysterious siren beat and a deliberate stillness for Ngaere Jenkins’ opening solo. Accompanied shortly after by Katie Rudd, Carl Tolentino and Xin Ji, the performance fluctuates between order and chaos, pause and attack. Kim’s use of traditional Korean drums and gongs for the composition transports the audience to another world not so far from our own but strong in its own different values and customs. Excellent timing and connectivity between the four dancers, at times appearing to have learned skills from martial arts masters.

A slow-moving chorus dressed in white opens Part II with Victoria Colombus’s The Fibonacci. Streaming through the space, the group navigates you perfectly to a solo Katie Rudd, gazing under an orange tarnished spotlight.  Her movement grounded in the beat of the composition, she flows precisely to new sounds and twangs, a captivating and intriguing way to set up this powerful performance. Chris Clegg arrives to make the group five, technicians who portray the notion of humanity’s intrinsic closeness and simultaneous individuality.

Through the changes in music, choreography and positions the ensemble progress together as well as in their own slightly different manner, identifying how we are alone, but also together, how we are close but not too close. There is an impressive build up in music and movement that drops into an intensely lit backdrop featuring the dancers as pure silhouettes. What an eloquent picture. The ripples, levels and body waves characterise the underlying Fibonacci pattern that weaves everything in life together. NZDC is abundant with highly creative movement, emotion, flow and strength. Contemporary dance at its finest.


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Absorbing experiences

Review by Raewyn Whyte 30th Jun 2017

Three richly detailed and strongly contrasting works make up the New Zealand Dance Company’s new triple bill, Kiss the Sky, providing absorbing experiences for the audience.

Sigan, by Korean composer/choreographer Kim Jae Duk, is precise and controlled with sharply angled elbows and spiralling torsos, deep lunges and rapid thrusts, sustained poses and blur-speed, high-kicking turns. As if they are martial arts practitioners testing one another, the sequences grow steadily more challenging.

Accompanied by electronically treated sounds sampled from traditional Korean drums, large and small gongs, the pace, intensity and tension steadily builds until the final moments bring everything to an exultant climax.

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An evening of sensory indulgence

Review by Chloe Klein 30th Jun 2017

Kiss the Sky is New Zealand Dance Company’s Matariki triple bill featuring an international ensemble of choreographers, each bringing an offering of relationship and connection to the natural world.

Sigan is the evening’s first work, created by Korean choreographer Kim Jae Duk, and for me is the choreographic highlight of the programme. The Bruce Mason Centre stage is preset with a luminescent moon casting a soft glow onto the pale dance floor. Sigan is a philosophy of lines and circles, geometric puzzle pieces, angular discipline. The four dancers are braced with potential energy, the explosive action that never quite comes to fruition. Chrissy Kokiri and Xin Ji command with strength and precision. The movement is controlled by a relentless (heart?)beat created with traditional Korean percussive instruments that builds throughout the work, dictating timing, formation, pace, and stillness. The lighting design structures space with more moons, rising and falling, on the floor, directing focus, just as disciplined. Sigan holds back, it’s restrained, even in its final climax. It’s a dynamic quality I haven’t seen in a long time, and I find Kim’s choreographic choices intriguing.

Second in the programme is Sue Healey’s The Seasons Retouched. The work opens with a moment of ethereal and viscerally captivating awe as the stars of the night sky are seemingly switched on and encompass the stage. The Blackbird Ensemble, whose artistry is both thrilling and moving, make their way through the galaxy upstage where they remain throughout the work to perform Max Richter’s Recomposed, a tribute to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The work moves through the seasons, each change signalled by a transition of animation, masterfully designed by Augusto, against the curtain, the floor, and performers themselves. Sheer fabric is lowered to create three dimensional animations. Blackbird Ensemble’s enthralling presence in the work is the foundation of it’s magic. Violinist Amalia Hall ventures to centre stage and is encircled by dancers as she performs a virtuosic and impassioned solo, easily the hlighlight of the piece.

The Seasons Retouched is in vast contrast to Kim’s linear, structured, and disciplined Sigan. The work is characterised by soft, free flowing and release-based movement. Both Carl Tolentino and Breanna Timms shine in this movement tone, flying in their own bodies. It is a celebration of the seasons in their most romantic perception (Auckland’s seasons in reality are far from being so clear cut), and while the piece is beautiful in every sense I find it difficult to place it in any way other than as a fairytale – enchanting and mesmerising, but not mine. I feel this particularly as a parachute is brought out and fanned, backdropped by a projection of the earth (I’m unable to find New Zealand), in generalised Utopic bliss.

If Never Was Now closes out the evening with the most abstract connection to the programme, urgent chaotic energy disorientating, reorientating, and disorientating again in an ongoing cycle of anarchy. A perfect circle, another moon perhaps, of small polystyrene balls – the kind you stuff your bean bags with – sits centre stage. Their ordered perfection is disrupted by a curious and cheeky duet, continuously spread over the stage in increasing disorganisation. Underfoot the balls squeak, the choreography composing an undending chatter.

A small army dressed in uniform neon pink sweatpants and nude-seeming upper bodies, homogenous, explode. Despite the choreography’s refined lines, patterns, symmetry and group work, I feel rushed, adrenaline pumping. They are continuously searching, flailing, the searching for the next. Heavy front lighting casts frantic writhing shadows against the back curtain. There are moments of darkness, violent aggression, frustration with chaos amongst playfulness. Dynamic lifts are executed seamlessly within excellent partnering. A powerful closing image, Chrissy Kokiri kneels under the spotlight as a stream of polystyrene balls rains from the ceiling and clings to the light as the stage is enclosed in darkness.

Curationally New Zealand Dance Company has raised the bar with Kiss the Sky. Well-polished performance is complemented compositionally with excellent production design for an evening of sensory indulgence. Kiss the Sky will be performed at the Bruce Mason Centre until July 1.


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