Left and Right

The Auckland Performing Arts Centre: TAPAC, Auckland

17/06/2009 - 21/06/2009

Production Details


Ann Dewey’s contemporary dance company Spinning Sun presents their exuberant new dance work Left and Right in June 2009.  The performance is collaboration between award-winning Leigh-based choreographer Ann Dewey, writer Jo Randerson and musician/composer Charlotte Rose. Left and Right features the work of dancers Liz Kirk, Julie van Renen, Geoff Gilson and Sarah Baron.

Taking inspiration from a vibrant artwork, Left and Right is a feast for the eyes with the set saturated in colour and variety, and costumes hand-knitted by a team of 25 knitters from around the globe. Airmail packages from dedicated knitters in New Zealand and abroad have been arriving at Ann’s letterbox, including botanically correct leaves from Ann’s mother, a botanist living in England. Piece by piece the set and costumes have been created after hours of knitting.

Left and Right is an example of Ann’s preference for what she describes as ‘joyful art,’ performance that is full of energy and a sense of humour – Ann confesses she is not interested in the ‘heavy stuff.’ Francesca Horsley commented: "You can’t help but feel good after watching her performance" after seeing the Spinning Sun’s Flicker, which had a hugely successful Auckland season in 2008. The Flicker collective will be returning to the work later this month with a tour of New Caledonia from May 23-31st to teach workshops to students, teachers and professional dancers. Ann will create a dance work with some of the young dancers, and audiences will be treated to two performance of Flicker. A national tour of Flicker will be taking place in the second half of this year.

Ann’s aim in making Left and Right was to play with pattern and rhythm; the dancers in the piece are full of energy whipping through the space with precision, speed and a sense of delight. She engages the viewer through a cleverly constructed original world creating an absolute textural treat for audiences: "I am interested in making dances that are full of surprises, little presents and the feeling of pure joy."   

"Going to a dance show choreographed by Ann Dewey with her now distinctive, and I imagine fairly collaborative, artistic ensemble is a bit like going to dinner with a group of old friends… Dewey is a pure artist; her work describes the rich complex mix of stories of a lived-in life: imagination at full play." – Flicker reviewed by Felicity Molloy, Theatreview.

Left and Right promises to be a delightfully entertaining new work delivered by one of New Zealand’s most exciting and original dance companies.

Left and Right plays in:

Leigh Hall
4 Cumberland Street, Leigh
June 11th – 14th at 7.30pm
Tickets $15-20
Bookings: 09 422 6560
Enquiries: left@clear.net.nz

100 Motions Rd, Western Springs
June 17th – 21st at 8:00pm
Tickets $22-28 (subject to service fees)
Bookings: 09 845 0295 or www.tapac.org.nz
Enquiries: tickets@tapac.org.nz

Dancers: Liz Kirk, Julie van Renen, Geoff Gilson and Sarah Baron

Colourful knits – done and undone

Review by Celine Sumic 19th Jun 2009

Left and Right is a non-linear work that addresses the order of things both tangible and intangible with an abstract, hieroglyphic grace. A tableau vivant quietly in action is already in progress as we enter the theatre. 

Seated against a screen arranged to one side of the stage, a dark-haired woman (Lucy Marinkovich) moves her arms in quiet conversation with music tinkling in from an earlier era.  Both dancer and set are clothed in white, giving the scene an archival, cinematic feel.  

Passing lengths of white fabric over her arms in a meditative motion, the dancer’s movement unfolds in an embodied act of knitting.  Using her arms as needles, the construction closely resembles the large, loosely woven fabric that hangs immediately behind her; its bleached open weave a magnified detail of her own clothing. 

This strongly aesthetic opening presents a tactile work founded on the idea that the dance of life is inextricably bound to its material manifestation.  A collaboration between choreographer Ann Dewey, composer Charlotte Rose and writer Jo Randerson, I found Left and Right a beautifully crafted work and Dewey’s translation of handcraft to dance most interesting in its play on scale and the extent to which she has interwoven the set design with the choreography.

The primary element of the set – a tripartite screen that glides across the stage and spins upon its axis – acts as both a frame and magnifying glass, reflecting and showcasing the detail of the dance as it unfolds.

The work comes to life with the appearance of dancers (Liz Kirk, Julie van Renen, Geoff Gilson and Sarah Baron) from behind the screen, clad in permutations of colourful knits that change in shape and colour over the course of the work.  Drawing on a lively blend of intersecting solo, duet, trio, quartet and quintet forms, the theme of the mechanics of knitting is playfully explored.  Criss-crossing dynamics, interloping shifts and glimpses of aligned unison slide, erupt and dissolve, seamlessly bridging into other compositional figures.

Favourite moments within this work would have to include the universal sliding-sock dance, complete with cumulative entry and intersecting stop /start /rewind dynamics in reference to knitting machinery.  Dance tributes in particular go to the pliant, sphinxy Julie Van Renen, who at times appears to be either a runaway stitch or the iconic cat lost in an opiate of yarn. 

The merry-go-round nature of the set is also a high point, turning in time to reveal three distinct faces.  With these faces, the set traverses a telescopic mile, drawing the audience from the micro- to the macro-scale. 

At the beginning of the work we encounter the opening face which consists of draped lengths of a super-sized open-weave knit made from the machinations of the human body. 

The second face, a permutation on the theme of domestic scale, features a three dimensional wall paper with roses lifting their heads as if to leap any moment from their fictional vines.

The third face is a scalar departure in a different dimension and best summed up as the crazed marriage of rural aerial photography and Joseph’s Technicolor dream coat. 

As the set moves to centre stage in the latter part of the work and begins to turn upon its axis the dance changes to a fast-paced series of group photo-friezes.  The friezes eventually dissolve with the increasing speed of the turning set with dancers leaping solo between wall-paper faces, showcasing their individual dance vocabularies in the barking spin of the revolving scenery.

Part existential celebration, part historical reflection, Left and Right is happy perhaps to be called a dance about knitting.  Notably, Dewey’s light touch evades obvious interpretation, skipping airily over social tensions, war references and issues of gendered subterfuge.  The soundscape however paints a more dissonant picture, sprinkled with occasional sounds of broken plates, shattered glass, ghostly winds and the odd clang of pots and pans.

While the score is successful to some extent in its evocative mix of vocal, percussive, wind instrument and chime-like exchange, at times it feels too heavy upon the work, like a blanket obscuring in part the finer detail of the dance. Transitions are also awkward in places, with the acoustic contribution at times detracting from, rather than contributing to, the many changes of scene within this essentially episodic work. 

The spoken word, at first a questionably clumsy foil for the cursive articulations of the choreography, ultimately contributes an effective complement to the abstract, multi-layered nuance of the work.

As the work concludes I am left to wonder about the aerial map /Technicolor dream coat, as it is rolled up and the oversized knitted drapes drawn apart to reveal a turning music box dancer unravelling at her centre…

Clad otherwise only in black, she is losing her colour; spun silently and in slow motion by the orchestrated pull of the unravelling yarn.  Framed by the make-shift picture window, her arms raised in a trance-like surrender, she loses her guts in alternate blue-green and red rivers across space.

Time travels in woolly lines as a collective exhale marks the last of the knitting undone. 

Finally laid to rest in glowing, wavy piles upon the prone bodies of darkened others, it’s a strangely macabre closing figure; its sombre undoing a stark contrast to the white washed construction of Left and Right’s opening moments.
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Home-spun concept a great fit for the times

Review by Bernadette Rae 19th Jun 2009

Ann Dewey’s latest creation from her idyllic dance nest in Leigh takes the art of knitting as its theme in an intense and abstract exploration of rhythm and pattern. It is a great idea, a topical idea in these times of a home baking renaissance and recessionist fashion trends.

The costumes and significant expanses of set have all been hand-knitted, artfully and lovingly, by a team of volunteers, Dewey and the dancers themselves. The get-ups are quaint, flirty and quirky, and could make a fantastic fashion spread in an alternative publication or two. [More]
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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