Lean on Me - Jolt Dance Company

Geo Dome, Christchurch

17/06/2012 - 17/06/2012

Production Details

annual show
Sunday 17th of June
1pm and 4pm
Geodome, North Hagley Park
Tickets $5 ( children under 5 free )
Door sales only
“lean on me”

1 hour

A celebration of talent and unique dance qualities

Review by Kate Sullivan 18th Jun 2012

With all of the dancers sitting up the front of the audience and waving at people as they enter Jolt’s annual show, the theme of connections couldn’t be more readily apparent. My fingers can finally begin to thaw, as the warmth from this integrated dance company envelops the Geodome. The majority of the dancers in the show have different disabilities and range in age from 4 year olds to senior adults. As each of the nine dance works in the show reveal themselves, you can appreciate how each dancer is unique in their way of moving. However, as diverse as they are, as a group they are so united you can tell that at the centre of it all is community.

Celebration, a piece choreographed by professional choreographers Lyn Cotton and Fleur de Thier, kicks the show off. Motifs of leaning on each other’s backs are poignant illustrations of the show’s title, Lean on me. The dancers move with assured confidence around the stage, creating numerous pathways and stopping to form still shapes that use unusual, yet visually stunning connections with each other’s bodies. I am impressed with how skilfully these dancers weave in and out of each other.

The energy from the dancers in the second piece, Tonight, is immense and I notice how most of the audience can’t help but do a wee wiggle and shake to the groove of this dance. Most of the dancers are not shy of the stage, their faces glowing with confidence and excitement. Many are also old hands at this performance business, telling us in short commentaries in between dances how some of them have been performing for over 5 years.

During these commentaries the dancers tell the audience about their personal experience in Jolt, with the most common themes being “I love Jolt!” and “I love to dance!”. Although there are many to choose from, one of the most endearing moments of the entire show has to be when a young boy asks his family to “etu”, so he can show off his Mum, Dad and Nana to the audience. 

No piece is void of some form of dancer to dancer contact, this element of relationships is cleverly weaved into every piece. Beautiful aesthetics are created during the moments of the choreography when the dancers drape themselves over each other and bear each other’s weight in various ways. The simple act of holding hands creates more powerful images throughout the dance and again reiterates the theme of connections. Even the youngest dancers have good ensemble skills and can confidently move around the stage with the other dancers.

The music is just as diverse as the dancers. The sounds of Bruno Mars, Bobby McFerrin, the Black Eyed Peas and Baltan Beat box provide a lively repertoire of beats to make you want to dance in your seat. There are of course the soulful numbers such as Aboriginal Water Dreaming, where the purring and whirring of the didgeridoo is a perfect accompaniment to the weaving actions of the dancers in Celebration.

Just when you think all possibilities for movement and creativity must have been exhausted, you see yet another moment of innovative movement. The piece En-abled, choreographed by Lyn Cotton and another professional choreographer Erica Viedma, had every dancer in a chair, with one up the front acting as a conductor. Various limbs shoot out at all angles in response to the conducting, creating the image of a human popcorn machine. 

Greased lightning, an entire group number choreographed by Sophie Barnett & Laura McFadden, couldn’t be a more appropriate way to finish the show. The glowing faces and high energy movement reiterates how much this group loves to dance and how obviously, they love to dance with each other. Seeing all of these talented people on stage throughout the evening has illustrated all of the meaning in Lyn Cotton’s statement, “it’s a celebration of disability and the unique quality of all of our dancers”. 


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