Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

11/10/2016 - 11/10/2016

Tempo Dance Festival 2016

Production Details

Miniatures explores the beauty associated with the small things in life, and the constraints and boundaries we bind our lives with.

Dancers from the New Zealand School of Dance move gracefully through an intricately designed and precarious world of boxes, cabinets and pedestals – in a high energy performance that is rich with imagery and invention.

Miniatures was first performed to acclaim in 2004 and later toured New Zealand. Designed and created by Malia Johnston with music byEden MulhollandMiniatures has been re-worked with students from the New Zealand School of Dance. They have re-investigated the same provocations as the original cast, bringing their own movement research and interpretations to the ideas.

“By turns astonishing, whimsical, hilarious, daredevil, lyrical, this is choreography with a joyous amount of movement, celestial physics and terrific team play.” – Dominion Post

“…rich with imagery and invention.” – Francesca HorsleyNew Zealand Listener

Ticket price:$20 – $28 (Booking fees may apply)


Dancers: 3rd year contemporary dance students from NZ School of Dance

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour

Miniatures: a world, within a world, within a world

Review by Sarah Knox 12th Oct 2016

Miniatures was first created in 2004 with a stellar cast, and was restaged on Footnote New Zealand Dance in 2007. It presents a world, within a world, within a world, where height, proximity, scale and relationships are sacred and important.

This iteration of Miniatures, presented by third-year students of the New Zealand School of Dance, for Tempo 2016, is clearly a significant new development of the work, with key images maintained (a burdensome box carried by a small woman, dancers hanging inside boxes like bats and being rolled upside down, crows perched attempting to fly in slow motion) presenting impossible, surprising and poignant movement ideas. Some entirely new sections keep pace with Johnston’s development and interests as a dance maker. This Miniatures has gained some moments of humour but has also held safe the captivating moments of musicality to the dramatic and haunting work of Eden Mulholland. There was something deliciously precious about the original Miniatures that has been replaced by a darker force. Less whimsical, it is grungier, more urgent and a little unsettling at times.  It has been honed from a nostalgic sepia to sharp grey scale. The work is rich with Johnston’s signature images: dancers balancing precariously on tiny platforms performing intimate but spellbinding duets; formations and patterns of movement that swell, morph and transform; shaking, quaking and convulsing; tiny details drawn seamlessly  forth in amongst duets that transform into solos, trios and group sections of movement.

We begin with the sound of rain on a tin roof and we are transported to a dark and gloomy location hosting only a single construction: it could be a shelter, a cupboard, a wardrobe, or a telephone booth. What lies behind the door is unbeknown to us as it propels dancers out and sucks them back in. Sounds of doors creaking and slamming, piano keys in a black and white film, and quiet voices calling you from a dream, drive or support sections of the work. Three large boxes and several tiny boxes join the door for various sections of the work posing spatial provocations. From the tiny and intimate to the grand and sweeping, we witness the successes and failings of the dancers’ seemingly impossible tasks of balance, endurance and precision.

The wood on the boxes looks worn and familiar and we can see them heave slightly with the dancers’ weight and movement. We see risk and fearlessness in a new way as the dancers commit to one-legged jagged movement phrases at a height, falling backwards into darkness, and fulfilling complex movement phrases constricted in a box.

The NZSD dancers are limber and lithe, technically proficient. As performers they are impressive, each presenting a unique physical identity through a clear ‘look’ but also through the movement vocabularies they have created. It is clear from Miniatures that the NZSD is training extremely employable dancers with a range of movement modalities, and therefore a range of potential performance opportunities awaits them following graduation.

Tempo Dance Festival is on for the remainder of this week. Tickets available from



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