Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

05/10/2017 - 06/10/2017


Production Details


Witness history through bodies of the future.

Limbs@40 celebrates the founding by Chris Jannides in 1977 of ground-breaking New Zealand modern dance company Limbs, whose compelling choreographic style and tenacity for refusing to be ignored put both them and contemporary dance on the map across New Zealand.

This re-embodying of some of their most iconic works features choreography developed for the Limbs repertoire by resident dancer/choreographers Douglas Wright (MNZM, Arts Laureate), Mark Baldwin (OBE, Artistic Director of the prestigious Rambert Dance Company in London), and MaryJane O’Reilly (QSM).

Knee Dance and Quartet by Douglas Wright; Poi, Talking Heads and Moth by Mary Jane O’Reilly, and Melting Moments by Mark Baldwin, are brought to life on stage by Years 2 & 3 and post-graduate students from the New Zealand School of Dance and Unitec Performing and Screen Arts Programme, plus the In Flagrante dancers

Limbs@40 is part of a multi-day celebration during Tempo 2017 which acknowledges and commemorates Limbs Dance Company’s legacy and influence in New Zealand contemporary dance. Other events include the launch of the book Limbs Dance Company, 1977-1989, Dance for All People written by Limbs dancer Marianne Schultz, displays of historic photographs and costumes, a dance exhibition at Auckland Library and a reunion dinner.

Limbs Dance Company, 1977-1989, Dance for All People is available for $40 here and can be collected from Q Theatre’s Box Office from Wednesday 4 October.

Thu 5 Oct 8.30pm
Fri 6 Oct 8.30pm

$27.50 – 44.00*
*Booking fees apply

Performers: Years 2 & 3 students from the New Zealand School of Dance and Unitec Performing and Screen Arts Programme, and the In Flagrante dancers

Choreographer: MaryJane O'Reilly Music: Poi by Jack Body
Costumes: Elizabeth Whiting

First performance: Maidment Theatre 1983 (7 min version) then 1987 (17 minute version)
Original cast: Wendy Preston, Adrian Batchelor, Learie McNicholls, Debra MCulloch, MJ O'Reilly, Susan Peacock

2017 Performers: 2nd and 3rd year dancers from Unitec Performing and Screen Arts Programme -
Cory-Toalei Roycroft, Atalya Loveridge, Emily Hancock, Kiwa Andrews, Libby Valentine, Nea Brink, Oliver Carruthers

Choreographer: Mark Baldwin
Music: Dvorak 'American string quartet

First performance: Maidment theatre 1980
Original cast: Kilda Northcott, Mark Baldwin, MJ O'Reilly, Alfred Williams, Adrian Batchelor, Shona Wilson

2017 Performers: 3rd year dancers from the New Zealand School of Dance - Toa Paranihi, Isabella Coluccio, Nick Jachno, Georgia van Gils, Kit Reilly, Christina Guieb

Choreographer: MaryJane O'Reilly Music: Seen and Not Seen, Talking Heads

First performance: Maidment Theatre 1980
Original cast: Shona Wilson, Kilda Northcott, Debra McCulloch, MJ O'Reilly

2017 Performance: In Flagrante - Sofia McIntyre, Maria Munkowits, Amanda Macfarlane, Julie Van Renen

Choreographer: Douglas Wright
Music: Born Never Asked, Laurie Anderson Costumes: Douglas Wright

First performance: Limbs Studios, Brown St, Ponsonby, Auckland in 1982
Original cast: Kilda Northcott, Douglas Wright, Debra McCulloch

2017 Performance: Unitec dancers Emily Hancock, Oliver Carruthers and Atalya Loveridge

Choreographer: MaryJane O'Reilly Music: The Pan Piper, Miles Davis Costume: MaryJane O'Reilly

Original cast: MJ O'Reilly or Kilda Northcott First performance: Maidment Theatre 1979
2017 Performance: Maria Munkowits

Choreographer: Douglas Wright
Music: Vivaldi's 1st movement Concerto for two violins, cello, strings and basso continue in G minor Op 3, no 2 and Concerto in C Major for mandolin, strings and harpsichord
Costumes: Douglas Wright

First performance: New York, then New Zealand 1987 Original NZ Cast: Douglas Wright, Glenn Mayo, Marianne Schultz, Lisel Grigg
2017 Performance: New Zealand School of Dance - Toa Paranihi, Connor Masseurs, Christina Guieb, Ella Williams

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

70 mins

Tempo festival celebrates Limbs@40

Review by Raewyn Whyte 09th Oct 2017

Hearty applause and rousing cheers greeted Limbs@40, an homage to ground-breaking New Zealand contemporary dance company Limbs, featuring six reconstructed works from its historic 160-work repertoire.

Given beautifully polished performance by 27 mostly student dancers from UNITEC and the NZ School of Dance, who would never have seen the company perform live, these works provide a blast from the past for Limbs fans.

Read the review



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Historic repertoire reimagined

Review by Kerry Wallis 07th Oct 2017

Limbs@40 consists of six carefully chosen pieces from the pioneering contemporary Limbs Dance Company repertoire, re-imagined on current and post-graduate dance students of Unitec and the New Zealand School of Dance. All six pieces offer something a little different to the viewer, however by the end, I felt we had only just started to scratch the surface of the Company’s range and only one piece failed to hit the mark.

It starts with a short video, little excerpts of original Limbs footage. This sets the tone of the show and immediately helps me engage with the upcoming works as well as celebrate and remember the original performers. There is no denying that Limbs vocabulary seems a bit outdated to the “usual” contemporary dance we see in New Zealand today, but, when we think back to the vast differences in training and the development of the contemporary dance industry, it is easy to see how this change in movement has occurred.

The first piece is ‘Poi’ by MaryJane O’Reilly and originally performed in 1983, then extended and performed in 1987. Seven dancers from Unitec perform in leafy green unitards. 3 girls kneeling doing intricate replications of poi movement begins the piece. After a while, a man leaps across stage which comes across as humorous, a reaction that may not be intended. Tightly structured duets occur once two other dancers enter the space, before slipping back into slightly individual movements. The movement shifts into angular patterns. I am not drawn to any one dancer but simply watch the piece for what it is offering. The nature soundscore by Jack Body intensifies as do the dancers leaping and cutting across stage, and I feel as though the music and dance were choreographed together instead of making one fit the other,  although this section felt a little longer than it needed to be. As ‘Poi’ begins to slow down and reach its conclusion I can’t help but think what a marvellous opener it makes.

The second work ‘Melting Moments’, performed by 3rd-year students of the New Zealand School of Dance, is choreographed by Mark Baldwin and was originally performed in 1980. Performed in red unitards it offers three identical duets to Dvorak’s ‘American’ string quartet. This piece is intimate, tactical, controlled, and has a very classical, yet modern dance feel, with a few nods to Graham technique. I love this piece and seeing the female role in a duet supporting the males’ movement makes for a more interesting dynamic which puts equal weight on both partners.

The third piece changes tempo with MaryJane O’Reilly’s ‘Talking Heads’ with music by the named band. First performed in 1980, four female dancers of In Flagranté move across the stage with poise and clarity again in unitards. All four dancers move well together with most of the choreography navigating its way through static poses and I think it was a strong decision to put this piece on a more mature cast who have performed together many times before.Thisis a short and sweet piece complete with wiggly heads, shoulders and bums and highly enjoyable.

The fourth piece in the line-up shifts away from the previous three, although the movement is still along similar lines – ‘Knee Dance’ by Douglas Wright. First performed in 1982, this trio work is innovative with the vocabulary becoming more complex, however the foundation and build-up of previous works is echoed just the right amount. A shift in costuming helps recognise this change also to lose fitting black clothing. All three of the Unitec dancers do a beautiful job at bringing this piece to life and I am left thinking how lucky they (and all involved) are, to have the opportunity to perform this ‘grass roots’ contemporary dance, if you will, at this early stage in their contemporary dance careers.

Unfortunately, the fifth piece – ‘Perhaps Can’, a solo choreographed by MaryJane O’Reilly fails to deliver for me. Set to Miles Davis’ ‘PanPiper’, and performed by an In Flagranté dancer, this 1979 work opens with a female figure draped with a black shawl around her shoulders, sitting on a chair. With dim side lighting, and a focus on arm movements, there is a sensual feeling.  It is a puzzling presence within the rest of the works chosen. I understand the need to showcase the range of Limbs Dance Company repertoire, however, as the only solo performance of the evening I don’t feel it was the right casting decision and it was also not polished enough.

The final performance is by New Zealand School of Dance dancers performing ‘Quartet’ by Douglas Wright. Dressed in purple singlets and shorts this piece was originally performed in New York before being performed in New Zealand in 1987. You can see how far Limbs Dance Company have come with this piece being quite a change to previous works. The opening sequence is performed in silence and I am impressed with how well the dancers keep in time with each other. This piece is also the first where we see impressively performed solo choreography within a group work. The movement of this piece is much freer and less restricted and as before we see the echoes of the foundations for the movement which I really enjoy. This piece is filled with humour and playfulness and the pelvic thrusting leaves you with a smile on your face.

Limbs Dance Company wanted their pieces to be about the dance and to put the focus on the individual dancers, and I feel their choreography matches this. The movement does look better, in my opinion, on the dancers who have had further technical training, however this does not deter from the performance of all the dancers this evening who did a wonderful job at bringing Limbs Dance Company back to the forefront of New Zealand Contemporary Dance. 


Raewyn Whyte October 19th, 2017

A further review of Limbs@40 can be found as follows: 
by Jennifer Shennan in Michelle Potter ...on Dancing  (scroll down)

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