Lick Off My Tears, Death is Also Dying

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

21/02/2024 - 24/02/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Director, choreographer, and producer: Sofija Milic

L!CK Dance Theatre

“Lick Off My Tears, Death is Also Dying” will be a wild, confronting reflection of our system, and the values rooted deep within. It will pose the question, What is it that we truly desire as humans?

Performed by three contemporary dance graduates and an actor, “Lick Off My Tears… .” will boldly expose how humans always want more, no matter how much they gain… !

The performance will explore themes of loneliness, corruption, isolation, lies, and karma as metaphors for this “perfect life” all humans dream of. Sofija aims to create a powerful and intriguing journey to liberation for each of the characters. Breaking down walls between dreams and reality and revealing the raw truth that all we need is what we already have.

Sofija Milic is the director, choreographer, and producer of her debut full-length work ‘Lick Off My Tears, Death is Also Dying.’

Fringe Festival 2024
At Tapere Nui Theatre, Te Auaha from 21-24 Feb, 6pm and 3pm.
$22.50 General Admission, $15 Concession
Book Here

Ian Blackburn, Caterina Moreno, Elliot Gordon, Luke Romero, Sofija Milic, Theo Shakes, Alisha Jacob

Lighting Designer: Anne Larcom
Graphic Design: Zoe Whaley

Contemporary dance , Dance ,

1 hour

It’s a beautiful madness

Review by CHLOE JAQUES 25th Feb 2024

We are met in Te Auaha’s Tapere Nui Theatre with a bold symbolic offer of two characters standing strong on two individual pillars. One red and one white. Ominous sounds greet us. Three figures enter the space with methodical walking. They march through space with coordination and presence. The theme of repetition is planted at the starting point and is a constant throughout the entirety of the 45 minute performance. 

Lick Off My Tears, Death Also Dying hints towards an essence of theatre maker Romeo Castelucci. Something I have not witnessed so deeply in the Fringe Festival 2024 season. Choreographer and producer, Sofija Milić, developed this work with intimacy and intention. The attention to detail in all aspects of the performance instils belief in me, that makers of art have courage to create with specificity and boldness. 

Performers Ian Blackburn, Elliot Gordon, Cassidy Kemp-Woffenden, Cate Leong, Caterina Moreno and Luke Romero work seemingly together with ease. No one moves perfectly which is exactly what this work calls for. Everyone tends to hold their note with raging flavour, enhancing the overall punch in the gut the work has on me. 

Costume and set design by Max De Roy and Sofija Milić is nothing short of this either. An aesthetically simple yet stunning use of symbolism and colour. 

The space is alive from the performers’ methodical walking, and a figure dressed in white gives birth on the pillar. Out pops a child-like red figure. Something bigger is coming. The birthed red figure falls to the ground not having established their body and begins investigating how it is to move. The body begins whipping around in circles and exploring space and levels, with immediate access to range and scale. The red figure is quick to gain confidence in this potentially unknown world whilst gremlin-like characters are tempted by the wonderment and envy of the red space. 

Use of voice and sound are prominent components that truly heighten the experience of this performance exhibition, with sound designer Raven-Harvey Lomas speaking volumes with their choices. A chaotic cocktail of singing, crying and laughing evolve and mimic the contrasting music choices. It reminds me of a completely ominous yet hopeful, chicken dance (song). 

Clinical lighting choices reflect licks of a hospital room, generating the repeated theme of birth. Warm hues of red shift the space and suggest power as a theme has come into play. I appreciate lighting designer Anne Larcom’s complimentary precision. 

Three figures investigate the idea of success. Symbolic props and actions indulge desire and longing to be powerful and complex. Vanity and fame is with us now. Two figures dressed in grey strive and fight for the thing. But what is the thing? We have everything until we have  . . . nothing. We see everything once we have nothing. An apple in the mouth helps the roasted pig look nicer. It shows the cycle of ‘life and death’ – dead or alive. Roasting a pig is a tradition in celebration. Again, a strong symbolic nod to the overarching themes. 

Are we all just a version of a roasted pig? A moment of competition. Running for their lives, two performers dressed in grey prepare to one up each other, testing every tactic under the sun. Sad, mad, beautiful, strong and lost, it’s ritualistic chaos. I am so with them. 

The figure on the red pillar starts to cry. Death is approaching. But who’s winning at this point? The figures dressed in grey begin stripping the ‘dead’ body of the red armour. I wonder who must die so we can win? 

Laughing erupts in silence. Everyone is laughing. So much symbolism. Too much symbolism? There’s a collective stomping and clapping motive whilst continuous crying and laughing and everyone goes crazy! It’s a beautiful madness. There’s a sense of stripping back and joining together. A deep sadness that this is no one’s fault but everyone’s doing. 

I wished for the last image to be held a moment longer. 

“We all have two sides. Cut me in half. Heaven and hell. Happy and sad. Fire and water. Right and wrong. We are simple yet so complex. We have everything until we have nothing. We see everything once we have nothing”. 


Make a comment

Expresses the issues of our time

Review by Helen Balfour 22nd Feb 2024

Lick off my tears, Death is also dying, is choreographed and produced by New Zealand School of Dance graduate, Sofija Milić, performed by L!ck Dance Theatre. This piece is an ambitious extension of a shorter work performed during the Axis NZSD Choreographic Season 2023. The 2023 work was well-crafted, artistically made and performed, this extended work has morphed into something much more complex. 

It is difficult to know where to start to review as the piece is jam-packed full of intense energy, repetition, contorted facial expressions, harsh sounds, macabre movements, moments of humour and complex metaphors.

The beginning is strong with performers walking in stylised, well defined patterns and shapes weaving in and around two, metre high boxes one grey, the other red, placed stage left and right. On top of each box a performer stands statically for the majority of the piece. They are constants in the work, grounding and stabilising the hectic madness that prevails a lot of the time, their stillness a relief, something to settle our focus on. 

Recurring repetitive thigh slapping actions, almost self-flagellating, confront us commanding our attention and yes, makes us feel uncomfortable, followed by contorted twisted movements as though the trio are suffering or possessed. Returning false, fake smiles, warped mouths emitting small unheard insane asylum-like utterings, interspersed with raucous laughter and on it goes.

A solo red-dressed performer flings themselves into the space after being ‘birthed’ from a grey-clad box person, tumbling dynamically, floor to standing actions intense and well executed. They slow to show us bizarre rooster-like gestures, as other cast members enter to honour him, guru fashion, lustfully stroking and pawing him, alluding to grovelling. At this point, fast-paced Italian-esque music, part of the complex sound design by Raven Harvey-Jones, raised our focus as the performers sang along. 

I struggle with the intention and coherency of this next section. The bound-apple-stuffed-pig being taunted by a red-wigged performer, another holding a Logie award raised high. Is this something to do with belittling the underdog, or is it describing an innate human condition where there is a tendency to bully? 

A light-hearted interlude between two performers battling most-haves and best-cans eased the tension and raised a laugh as child-like competition played out. 

Another ‘birth’ follows with a fierce, yet clever floor based duo alluding to at times, aggressive sexual encounters. The performers here are most able dancers skillfully manoeuvring themselves in through and around each other and the space. 

Tableaux changes with blackouts and strobe light conjure confusion, horror and mayhem, so much screaming grated.

Costumes designed by Milić and Max De Roy were androgynous in style and adeptly used as extensions of the body, symbolic in colour, moving beautifully with the action.

“All we need is what we already have” is one of Milić’s intentions to explain, and by the end the performers present themselves stripped from costumes and mayhem, standing bare of baggage, revealing reality, displaying this objective. 

A gutsy effort indeed from Milić and her company of performers, expressing the huge issues we need to address, although at times becoming messy and overly tangled, Lick off my tears, Death is also dying, made me think. It unsettled me somewhat, reaffirming that most of us know that in many ways the world is in bad shape and it’s important to express the issues of our time through performance, in this case movement and the spoken word. 

Nevertheless, as a general note for creating work in this uncertain time, a nod to a new dawn of optimism can too be embraced through complex, artistic endeavours. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo