Maidment Theatre, Auckland

19/08/2015 - 22/08/2015

Municipal Theatre, Napier

15/05/2016 - 15/05/2016

Opera House, Wellington

21/05/2016 - 21/05/2016

TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

27/05/2016 - 27/05/2016

Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato, Hamilton

04/05/2018 - 04/05/2018

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

10/05/2018 - 10/05/2018

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

14/05/2018 - 14/05/2018

Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

23/05/2018 - 23/05/2018

Production Details

Direct from Paris’ prestigious Théâtre National de Chaillot and Liverpool, following sold-out seasons and standing ovations in New Zealand, the Holland Dance Festival and Germany, The New Zealand Dance Company proudly presents one of its most sought-after and celebrated programmes— Lumina. Three incomparable pieces of contemporary dance explode off the stage in “ground-breaking” and “hypnotic” (NZ Herald) spectacles resulting in a “tour de force of dance, music and light.” (DANZ) 

Artistic Director Shona McCullagh tasked the three dynamic creative teams with creating a world where light was the connective force of the programme. Featuring some of Holland and New Zealand’s finest choreographers, composers and designers, Lumina is a rich world “presenting a veritable explosion of fantastically illuminated spaces, images and superbly performed contemporary dance.” (NZ Herald) 

New Zealand choreographer Malia Johnston and her long-standing creative partners composer Eden Mulholland and AV Designer Rowan Pierce created Brouhaha—a bold, loud and energetic world in which the dancers are explorers and artful unravelers of rawness and refined beauty described as “a tour de force of dance, music and light.” (DANZ Magazine) 

Maori choreographer Louise Potiki Bryant and composer/AV designer Paddy Free (Pitch Black) created In Transit—a thoughtful work which is a vivid reflection of the traces left behind in the Māori ritual of encounter.  

Stephen Shropshire (USA/Holland) created the company’s first international commission in co-production with the Holland Dance Festival. Created in collaboration with composer Chris O’Connor (The Phoenix Foundation), The Geography of an Archipelago sees a trio of dancers exploring the emotions that accompany exile and belonging.  

Powerful designs by Jo Kilgour (lighting) and Kasia Pol (set and costume) across all three works creates an immersive and integrated world for the audience to experience. 

Receiving a 4 (out of 5) star review at the world’s most respected dance festival and excellent audience feedback in Europe and New Zealand, Lumina promises a great evening of high energy dance, visceral and charismatic music, and stunning design. 

“Lumina revealed a depth of talent in every aspect of the production, with lighting, costumes and production matching the virtuosity of the dance works.” (DANZ Magazine) 

National Touring 2018

HAMILTON – Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at the University of Waikato, Friday, 4 May 2018, 7:30pm 

CHRISTCHURCH – Isaac Theatre Royal, Thursday, 10 May 2018, 7:30pm, BOOK CHRISTCHURCH TICKETS HERE

NELSON – Theatre Royal Nelson, Monday, 14 May 2018, 7:30pm, BOOK NELSON TICKETS HERE
AUCKLAND – Bruce Mason Centre, Wednesday, 23 May 2018, 11am & 7pm, BOOK AUCKLAND TICKETS HERE

International Touring2018

PARIS – Théâtre National de Chaillot, Wednesday-Friday, 11-13 April 2018, 11th & 13th- 7:45pm, 12th- 8:30pm *Brouhaha will not be performed 
LIVERPOOL – The Capstone Theatre, Tuesday, 17 April 2018, 7:30pm


2016 – North Island Tour

Whangarei – Wed 4 May 7.30pmForum North – Capitaine Bougainville Theatre
BOOK NOW through Ticketek online or call 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

Mahurangi – Fri 6 May 7.30pmMahurangi College
BOOK NOW through iTICKET online or call 0508 iTICKET (484 253)

Napier – Sun 15 May 6.00pmNapier Municipal Theatre
BOOK NOW through Ticketek online or call 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

Wellington – Sat 21 May 7.30pmOpera House
BOOK NOW through Ticketek online or call 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

New Plymouth – Fri 27 May 7.30pmTSB Theatre
BOOK NOW through Ticketmaster online or call 0800 111 999


Artistic Director: Shona McCullagh
Producer: Behnaz Farzami
Production Manager & Lighting Designer: Jo Kilgour
Set and Costume Designer: Kasia Pol

Carl Tolentino
Chrissy Kokiri
Katie Rudd
Xin Ji
Bree Timms
Eddie Elliot

The Geography of an Archipelago
Choreographer: Stephen Shropshire
Composer: Chris O’Connor

In Transit
Choreographer: Louise Potiki Bryant
AV Designer/Composer: Paddy Free

Choreographer: Malia Johnston
Composer: Eden Mulholland
AV Designer: Rowan Pierce

Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Contemporary dance , Dance ,

1 hr 40 mins

Precision, passion and athleticism

Review by Dr Ian Lochhead 11th May 2018

It is perhaps a symptom of both the increasingly international world of contemporary dance as well as of the vagaries of arts funding that the New Zealand dance company’s 2015 production, Lumina, is being performed in Christchurch and other New Zealand venues after already being shown in Holland and Germany and, most recently, Liverpool and Paris.  It is to the company’s credit that its international touring has not undermined its commitment to local audiences and it is to be hoped that its most recent production, Michael Parmenter’s OrphEus – a dance opera, will reach the South Island before long.

Although consisting of three distinct works by three different choreographers, Lumina is given unity by the overarching themes implied by its title across the fields of optics, anatomy and botany and through the unified design of set and costumes by Kasia Pol and the lighting design of Jo Kilgour. Lumina also marks a new departure for the company as it works with the Netherlands-based American choreographer, Stephen Shropshire, the first time an international choreographer had created a work on its dancers. 

The Geography of an Archipelago is Shropshire’s response to the theories of London-based Swiss art curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist, especially his idea of “archipelagic thought”.  While Obrist’s theories might have provided an initial stimulus for the piece Shropshire’s choreography is inevitably more allusive.  A trio of journeying dancers is placed under surveillance by a figure external to the group, the isolation of the individual is explored in a powerful solo by Xin Ji, and the pressure to conform within groups is also revealed.  Chris O’Connor’s powerful score, incorporating percussion, taonga puoro and a reworking of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata, both supports and amplifies these themes.

Louise Potiki Bryant’s In Transit, as the title suggests, is a meditation on continuously evolving states of being and of the role of ritual in demarking the stages of life.  Developed in close collaboration with composer and video designer Paddy Free, the work draws on the ritual challenge presented to visitors approaching a marae, a ritualised transition both in space and social relations.  A series of moveable screens reflect projected images that reflect the actions of the dancers as well as taking on identities of their own in a manner that echoes the British choreographer, Wayne McGregor’s combinations of dancers and virtual movement.  The long staffs wielded by individual dancers reference the taiaha used in conflict as well as in ritual challenges; these are finally gathered together and balanced across the body of the single remaining dancer, who collapses under their metaphorical weight in the ultimate transition from life to death.

The final piece, Malia Johnston’s Brouhaha, as its name suggests,is a more light-hearted work that celebrates light, movement and sound.  The wedge-shaped form that had hung threateningly over the stage in Geography of an Archipelago now returns as a screening element on the stage floor, from behind which the dancers make their entrances.  Eden Mulholland’s music and Rowan Pierce’s video projections combine with Johnston’s choreography in continuously evolving patterns of light, movement and sound, the wave-like effects of the dancers’ movements reminding us that light and sound also travel in waves.  The work possesses something of the exuberance and energy of Len Lye’s film Free Radicals; if Lye were still working today it would surely be in the realm of contemporary dance.  Brouhaha ends with bands of light precisely aligned across the back and arms of a single dancer standing centre stage, reminding us of the energy contained even in a body at rest and a metaphor for the energy of life itself. 

Throughout Lumina, the company’s dancers respond tirelessly to the challenges of the choreography with precision, passion and athleticism.  The professionalism of the New Zealand Dance Company and the fact that it is increasingly able to offer dancers full-time contracts bodes well for its future and its next tour will be eagerly awaited by its enthusiastic Christchurch audience. 


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Review by Dr Debbie Bright 06th May 2018


Kia ora koutou kātoa!

In a word, stunning! This programme explodes on the senses in sound, light and powerful, exhilarating dance!

We, the audience, are treated to an experience of the work that New Zealand Dance Company in co-production with Holland Dance Festival is currently offering in its 2018 international tour.

Each of the three pieces in this programme, while being uniquely individual, contributes to an overall sense of stunning theatre. We are dazzled by images created by sophisticated use of sound, light, props, moving and interactive images, and dance, in the special context of live theatre.

We are asked questions and, in return, forced to ask our own questions. One of my questions concerns whether there is actually a ‘star’ in this show, even though the dancing is superb. The creativity and expertise of visual, musical, and design artists are also so evident and intrinsic to the performance. 

The programme notes are a source of helpful information and food for reflection. Shropshire indicates that he explores themes of dispossession and solitariness of the body as an island, in the contexts of migration, exile, colonisation and those who refuse to “acquiesce to the colonialist narrative”. At times, Shropshire literally shines a light on fragmentation, and the longing of humans to retain their own cultural rhythms, whatever the pressures and upheavals from outside. Choreographer of Aotearoa New Zealand, Potiki Bryant, explores themes of life as a continuous series of transitions, interplay between the mundane and the divine, and the veil between life and death. She achieves this exploration through skillful interactions of moving images, lights and breathing dancing bodies. Johnston, also of Aotearoa New Zealand, explores the textures and interactions of projected images and living, dancing bodies, the tension of inhabiting space between and within, the “battle between discord and harmony”.  The dancers are “filled” with constant movement, seen in whole body jumping, in moving body parts and in implied or hinted internal motion. All are highlighted and contrasted with the constantly moving and changing images of light and projection.  In the two works by New Zealand choreographers, Māori culture is plainly evident in music, images, rituals, chants and dance movement, while the sound of expelled breath creates a recurring connecting force across the evening. 

In a programme such as this it is impossible to highlight the performances of any particular dancer(s) because, while Xin Ji shines in the early stages, Chrissie Kokiri, Katie Rudd, Bree Tims, Carl Tolentino and Eddie Elliott, in turn, display similar levels of strength and flexibility, dazzling technique, energy and precision. All slide seamlessly from stillness to subtlety to breath-taking leaps, holds, falls and balances, all the while projecting audience awareness without affectation. We are treated to solos, duets, group formations, unison and contrast, as the choreography develops and morphs throughout each piece. Meanwhile, shapes of lights and images fall and project over, behind, before and around the dancing bodies.

For this programme, Shropshire’s and Potiki Bryant’s works are presented in the first half of the programme, and Johnston’s work follows the interval. For me, this arrangement fits with the somber themes and the sense of grief that I perceive during Shropshire’s and Potiki Bryant’s works, and the high velocity, lighter feeling I experience during Johnston’s piece.  The audience appears excited and astonished by the incredible endurance, speed and precision of the dancers, and begins to applaud the dancers at the end of particularly demanding sequences. The students behind me, who were chattering excitedly and discussing time and Learners’ Licences before the show, have fallen silent.  Three curtain calls and a standing ovation from many are indications of the audience’s appreciation.

After this special event, I retain numerous images: a sense of the primal meets the now, cultures meeting; white light in strips, rectangles, circles, angles, movements…breaking the darkness; booming rhythms and sustains; plaintive cries of human voices, pipes and the taonga puoro; long sticks reminiscent of fishing, taiaha, support, and the search for balance;  dancing white images projected on walls; huge triangles and rectangles; black costuming with occasional grey, white, red; pale, articulate arms, legs, feet and hands, now sharp and angular, now sinuous and fluid; groupings and formations of moving bodies, and the extreme skill, athleticism, energy and virtuosity of the dancers.

Brilliant, amazing…. I run out of superlatives!

Kia ora!

Ngā mihi nui anō ki a koutou katoa!


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Transformation. Tribe. Technology

Review by Holly Shanahan 28th May 2016

Light. Illumination. Space. Image. Movement – These are the elements  “concealed and revealed” in New Zealand Dance Company’s latest season, Lumina, an international co-production with the prestigious Holland Dance Festival.

Lumina is now touring the smaller New Zealand centres after successful presentations in Germany and The Hague, and it is wonderful to have such high calibre work coming to the regions. The New Plymouth audience did not disappoint, with a great turnout, and a definite buzz in the air as the lights came down.

Lumina comprises three works by three artistic teams. It is the company’s first international co-production, as well as their first international commission of an original work.

The first piece is ‘Geography of an Archipelago’ by American/Dutch choreographer Stephen Shropshire. As the house lights go down, a solitary force with a lamp rises to reveal three performers, slowly growing in a tribal, tai-chi-esque unison as they are circled and enclosed by this force.  The stage is a dim, genesis space of angular light and shapes. On the periphery, in the murk, is a solitary musician adding primitive percussion to the evolving score, enticing and interacting subtly with the three figures.  Stephen Shropshire’s choreography evokes creation, as well as oppression – the individual here never fully forms, seemingly because of oppressive forces.  The figures attempt individuality, but they continually return to togetherness in one way or another. Chris O’Connor’s composition creates a brooding crescendo that transitions into Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to interesting contrasting effect.

In Transit’, choreographed and composed respectively by collaborators Louise Potiki Bryant and Paddy Free, introduces more complex staging ideas and a longer, more layered work, conjuring many different states of individual transition. The idea of enclosure is quite literal in this work, with the use of moveable screens to create different limitations to the space. The very effective use of bamboos/sticks creates burden, restriction, oppression and an evolving sense of strength. This was most powerful in the image of a man’s death transforming to a tree, and the final image of the man moving slowly through the space, while his literal burden becomes heavier and heavier and harder to balance. It is quite something.

There are many contrasting segments to this work, some of which I found clearer than others, but as a whole, it left a strong impression as a cohesive piece. The use of projection is introduced successfully on a very minimal ‘European’ aesthetic, and conjures abstract images of bodies, organ-like in places (anatomy is one of the definitions of the word Lumina). In other parts, the stick, grass, and bamboo projections reminded me of local artist Len Lye. ‘In Transit’ used a variety of tribal-influenced movement and music, much of which was identifiably Pacific, giving it a beautiful, lyrical, and local flavour. Two male dancers moving connected in a hongi was particularly moving.

Despite the strength of all three works, the highlight for me was the frenzy of sound, image and movement that is ‘Brouhaha’ by choreographer Malia Johnston, musician Eden Mulholland and AV artist Rowan Pierce. It is in this work that the company’s elements for the show fully interact, divine and divide. The play between performers, projection and score is abstract magic, simple yet refined. The angle of a line or a strip or shaft of light comments differently on the choreography, and the performers play with projections, shadow, and light, as a part of the physical choreography itself.

Taking a sole violin, a sole dancer and a sole line into a thumping drum and bass/trance track with an almost manic pack of dancers, builds to a confronting moment of ecstasy/madness.  The moment of comedy where the exhausted performers drop to the ground is inspired, breaking up the intensity and allowing a new sequence to build. The eel-like movement of a woman restrained by three men, and their play together was quite extraordinary.

All the dancers in the company are brilliant. In the third work, each is so well integrated into the whole, that there are no real ‘standout dancer’ moments. The choreography they serve is what pops, which is a testament to the skill, focus and ensemble.

Dance really is the basic form of human expression, and you can’t help but come away from Lumina reflective, provoked or inspired in some way. It speaks so simply with great skill to our base instincts – in this work to transformation, tribe and technology.


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NZ Dance Company's 'Lumina' a mesmerising performance

Review by Ann Hunt 25th May 2016

The New Zealand Dance Company recently returned from an acclaimed tour of Germany and The Hague, performing to standing ovations. It is easy to see why.

As each season passes, the standard they set gets higher and higher. 

Lumina consists of three new works: two by New Zealand choreographers, Louise Potiki Bryant and Malia Johnston, and one, their first international commission by an American-born Dutch choreographer, Stephen Shropshire. 

Throughout the evening, the stunning lighting designs, sets and costumes are by Jo Kilgour and Kasia Pol respectively. 

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A thought-provoking evening of dance

Review by Tania Kopytko 22nd May 2016

The three works in Lumina by the New Zealand Dance Company provide an intriguing touring programme for this company. It features the first international co-production for NZDC, an original work by American born Dutch choreographer Stephen Shropshire, and the work of two well-known New Zealand female choreographers; Louise Potiki-Bryant and Malia Johnston. All three respond to the brief to explore  “the availability, or absence of light and/or projected media, still or moving” and they do this collaboratively, each with their own creative teams.  Light illuminates our world and reveals all; while in the dark and shadows our worst fears often lurk, or the cruelty of humankind is hidden – this is a challenging brief.

The first work is Stephen Shropshire’s The Geography of an Archipelago which seeks to explore themes of “dispossession and solitariness, of the body as an island… to question the authority of the singular and celebrate the diversity that is engendered when the migrant, the exiled, and the castaway, do not acquiesce to the colonialist narrative”. Given this choreographer’s European links and the enormous migrant crisis currently happening in Europe, I looked for a dance statement in this work.

It begins with a trio moving within dark fogginess, in front of a large industrial triangular shape, treading to a pulse, with gentle, subtle, upper body movements – fluid, beautifully clear and well articulated by the dancers. The initial music is ominous and this potential mounts when a character enters with a torch, directing it at the fragile trio, encircling the group. But the narrative does not develop from here.  The remainder of the work remains delicate, with the trio evolving into solo and duo.

The musicality of the choreography is often very beautiful, with changes in space or movement reflecting musical changes, with the lighting also sometimes picking up on these transitions.  The introduction of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, a gentle piece of music but coming from another colonial world, does not elicit any particularly marked choreographic tension in the dancers.  In the end the dancers are alone in the world.

While they move together and occasionally amplify each other’s movements in group work, the dancers do not relate to each other, nor to the two additional characters – the dancer beating a stick and the torch carrier. Neither do these two characters really intrude into the trio’s world, to build a tension or a narrative. A clumsy scene change at the end, carrying off of the large triangle, raises the possibility of a “part two” of the work, which will delve into deeper, darker areas.  But, sadly this does not happen.  This work has potential to explore more tensions around dispossession and colonisation – but they are difficult subjects where strong emotions and actions lurk.

The second work, In Transit by Louise Potiki-Bryant explores the dangerous and illuminating liminal space between rituals or states of being. Liminality is an area of both discovery and threat in all human societies, needing ritual to bring order to chaos. The choreography brings a unique contemporary Māori movement vocabulary and symbolism to this many-layered work, which delves way back into the mythical genealogical past and forward into the present, with a narrative of uneasiness, death, murder, grief, perhaps guilt, and separateness. This is finally brought together in the joining of the breath and generations through the hongi. 

The work is like a koru, spiralling into the stories and time, then out again to its resolution. Again the dancers are alone or separate in the universe, in this instance partially created through the Māori movement convention of separate male and female movement vocabulary. The work begins with a soloist balancing a stick on his head, like an “ancient” or an ancestor, but also maybe someone balancing between two worlds – perhaps that of Maori and Pakeha. The separateness is contrasted by a young couple’s duet. But their physical partnership looks troubled, as if haunted by the violence of the past. Their movement and emotion are cleverly magnified by the white ghostly lighting of ancestors or whanau gone before. Occasionally looking like modern ghostly figures, I sensed the projected  light creatures here were also young people that had passed on before their time.

The symbolism of the sticks continues throughout the work, sometimes as a weapon, then via lighting it becomes like new plant growth for the young people in the present.  In the resolution, the whanau brings sticks to the “ancient” man and in a striking last act, his sticks fall from him in a flash of light – and one hopes, bring  a more  hopeful  future.

I feel that some programme notes giving a deeper insight into the story or myth lying behind this work would have allowed me to understand the work more surely. There is a school of thought which argues that a dance work should be able to stand without being explained, but this is fast becoming an outdated approach in our multi-cultural global environment, where people are wanting to understand other cultures more deeply, and dance works need to reach out to new non-dance audiences. A curated approach is becoming more popular.

The third work Brouhaaha by Malia Johnston, strongly and confidently utilises lighting and sound. The dancers are again seeking something, often reaching up or out from their loneliness or isolation. When they dance physically together, they are often manipulated through space, or are pushed or pulled by the head or their clothes. The relationships are not tender or caring. The movement vocabulary provides a myriad of images and references. At times in the beginning, it looks to be a contemporary dance take on the fluid internal movement style of hip hop with  the group cleverly amplifying the movement of the individual. At other times, the choreography  references movement motifs of Malia’s earlier dance works. The climax is an almost aerobics style group sequence which creates tension and excitement – and applause from the audience – as its energy builds. The work could have ended there, on a high.

This is a thought-provoking evening of dance. I come away sensing the loneliness of the human condition, a world lacking tenderness and love, the individual’s struggle, people’s miscommunication, but the works give few answers to this dilemma, except in the hongi and mingling of breath. 


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Trio of fulfillingly complete and very different works

Review by Kim Buckley 16th May 2016

The brief Chief Executive and Artistic Director Shona McCullagh gave her commissioned choreographers and collaborators was to “create works that utilised the availability, or absence of light and/or projected media, still or moving.” American born Dutch choreographer Stephen Shropshire, and New Zealand choreographers Louise Potiki Bryant and Malia Johnston each respond with fulfillingly complete and very different works.

Shropshire’s The Geography of an Archipelago explores themes of dispossession and solitariness. Everything is black. The stage. The set. The costumes. There is one light source. There are three dancers plus two others lurking in the shadows.. Watching this work is a provocative and thought-provoking experience for me.

As the work unfolds, I begin to feel uncomfortably disconnected. The dancers work through a period of shifting time in unison, yet are dancing alone. The shapes they make with their bodies unfold and undulate. They are technically precise and glorious to watch. Their limbs from elbows to fingertips and knees to toes glow as if disembodied thanks to Jo Kilgour’s lighting design. Throughout this piece, there are moments of synergy when inside myself I am suddenly put back together and all the pieces fit making sense. Then just as suddenly, the movement breaks me apart again, and I am lost. The set design by Kasia Pol, all haze and dark shadows, puts this work into a distant realm of absurdly vast space where nothing else exists except self. Composer Chris O’Connors soundscape enhances the busy void.

Shropshire states that his intention for this work is ‘a claim for individualism – a topological map of the meandering journey towards oneself.’ In this, I feel he has succeeded in a most unsettling manner. There are deeper themes in this work, ideas of globalisation, the necessity of belonging and the challenge of the non-conformist. I would be interested to see a full-length work come from this.

As I look through Louise Potiki Bryant’s bio on the Arts Foundation website, I am not surprised by what I see. Her brilliant authenticity is acknowledged by the many awards she has received over the years for her work in choreography, contemporary dance and video. In Transit is her latest piece of interdisciplinary creativity. In this piece, Potiki Bryant’s choreography is imbued by the qualities of whakaahua – which literally means to come to form or to transform.”

Throughout the work, the dancers embody and personify Potiki Bryant’s unique style of movement. The twitchy undulations in costume, behind movable screens, holding sticks, standing or moving within Paddy Free’s iconic projections of light and shape. The journey I find myself on is hypnotising and enthralling. My eight year old son is unconsciously mimicking the movements in his seat beside me.

Again and again, I see and feel images of life echoing through space and time. Transitioning through life to death, through life and to death again. Everything forever changing constantly with the idea of our rituals carrying us through these changes whether we recognise them or not: each moment is precious.

Paddy Free is also responsible for the recognisable music and soundscape. His work adds to the beauty of this story and unites the dancers immeasurably. The duets are choreographed with a rolling intensity of again and again and again, asking the audience to give themselves to the moment before the transition that takes to the next moment and transition.

Taste, feel, movement, tone, breath, I will, I won’t, I do I don’t, push me pull you, no no yes, maybe maybe no, cogs in a rolling labyrinth, pieces falling into place, taking their own time. The mark of a person’s presence echoing through time.

Malia Johnston’s Brouhaha is the stunning finale to this programme. Together with her long-time collaborators musician Eden Mulholland and AV designer Rowan Pierce, the manifest strength of this work is three different artists who speak the same language.

The opening light and sound initiates the idea of womb, birth canal, born into light. The movement is a meditation of fluidity, of Johnston’s choreographic quirks and individualism. The opening and closing dialogue of the male duet is excellence in a conversation of equals. It is captivating and intense and my body insists on trying it out on a miniature scale in my seat…and intakes a huge breath when the duet dissolves into something else. Diverse segments of movement are transitioned by bouncing and swaying bodies, light stripes, running, barcodes, sitting groups, breath and percussion.

Mulholland’s score is richly layered and magnificent, full of space and depth and the magic that augments this choreography. The placement of the large and lengthy pyramid that is Kasia Pol’s set design is perfect for this work, giving Pierce’s AV work the ability to dissolve and highlight the seen and unseen.

Once again The New Zealand Dance Company has given us spectacular and remarkable works by some of New Zealand’s most dedicated dance professionals —  those who don’t make the effort to see this exceptional company’s newest program  are missing out.


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Three part investigation into light - and dance

Review by Francesca Horsley 24th Aug 2015

True to the definition, Lumina, the new production by the New Zealand Dance Company, was an investigation into light – and dance – in three works that had the audience on their feet at the Auckland premiere.

The first work, The Geography of an Archipelago, by guest choreographer, American Dutch-born Stephen Shropshire was described as a post-colonial exploration of a culture battling domination. Equally, it carried the voice of those at odds with the pull and sway of conformity. On a darkened stage, a hand-held naked light pierced the darkness as three dancers moved to ancient rhythms and beat of indigenous drums in a soundscore by Chris O’Connor

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Fantastically illuminated spaces

Review by Bernadette Rae 20th Aug 2015

The three choreographers contributing state of the art pieces for this ground-breaking season with the New Zealand Dance Company were given the brief of “light, illumination, space, image and movement” by the company’s artistic director Shona McCullagh who has long excelled in dance film-making and in creating interactive art installations.

The challenge is met on three separate levels, the programme in total presenting a veritable explosion of fantastically illuminated spaces, images and superbly performed contemporary dance.

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Review by Jenny Stevenson 20th Aug 2015

New Zealand Dance Company’s season of three new works aptly entitled Lumina, works its own particular magic with its themed focus on lighting and audio visual design as competing elements with the musical ambience, to become the drivers of the dance.  Showcasing several new dancers, the Company under Artistic Director Shona McCullagh, has produced the season in conjunction with the Holland Dance Festival where Lumina will be performed next year.

Louise Potiki Bryant’s outstanding new work In Transit created with composer and audio-visual artist Paddy Free fully exemplifies the possibilities of this multimedia approach.  Together they conjure up a world where the constant presence of ghostly figures created through projections of fluorescent, outlined silhouettes, emerge as what Louise designates “previous states of being”.  They could equally be perceived as spiritual guides, or tipuna, moving as they do with their own unique larger-than-life aura.

Together with set designer Kasia Pol, Potiki Bryant and Free have created a highly-mobile set of screens on which to project the images and also to invoke gateways, open doors or windows to the soul.  Referencing a work by Charles Koroneho, Potiki Bryant uses the imagery of balancing a stick on the head, perhaps as a metaphor for the precarious balance of our existence.  The moving hongi duet danced by Carl Tolentino and Chris Ofanoa is the highlight of the work.  The powerful final image of collapsing sticks shatters the illusionary parallel universe that the audience has been privy to.

Malia Johnston’s Brouhaha created with composer Eden Mulholland and audio-visual artist Rowan Pierce inhabits an altogether different landscape.  Projected vertical pillars of light and textural shapes move sequentially across the screened backdrop, contrasted by a black, sharply triangulated structure in the foreground, also designed by Kasia Pol.  The result is an edgy urban atmosphere that offers a pleasing contrast to the movement vocabulary performed by the full company of dancers who dance with ever increasing velocity, until the denouement unfolds. 

In the final moments, Johnston creates an unforgettable image, with tiny Chrissy Kokiri undulating through a full rippling movement of the body while being borne aloft in a side-on horizontal position by three men travelling across the stage.  The dance vocabulary veers from softly exploratory and flowing phrases through to highly energetic, jazz-based jumps and bounces.  Eden Mullholland’s beautiful composition for cello, (played by Helen Mountfort) and piano, (played by Alex Burke) layers the work with quite unexpected textures 

Visiting guest choreographer, Stephen Shropshire brings a unique vision to his work The Geography of an Archipelago, which as yet, is still to be fully realised by the dancers.  Of the three soloists, a dynamic Xin Ji most successfully inhabits the taut and spare style by accessing the coiled tension inherent in the choreography.

Shropshire creates a single guiding light, held aloft as a beacon to lead the lost souls through the gloom.  The dancers would appear to represent what he describes as “the body as an island”, symbolising the struggle of isolated individuals to establish identity in “an increasingly globalized world”.  The dancers’ unison movement is strangely hypnotic, accompanied by Chris O’Connor’s softly insistent music and drums.  Later Beethoven’s famous Moonlight Sonata casts its shining spell.  Adding percussive scratches and sound whorls is a meandering minstrel, Tupua Tigafua, who plays on a shell-like instrument as he follows the dancers’ journeying.

Jo Kilgour’s lighting design for all three works is masterful: using light as a precious commodity to pierce the pervading darkness of the stage.  Her response to each work is original and thought-provoking and creates a strongly unifying thread throughout.


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