Night Light

ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

03/06/2022 - 04/06/2022

Online, Global

24/06/2022 - 26/06/2022

Production Details

The New Zealand Dance Company presents Night Light – an evening of earthy contrast 

An ancient sequence of nature and the space between fiction and reality are brought to life in Night Light – an evening of earthy contrast, to be presented by The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) in Auckland, Whangarei and Christchurch this Autumn.

Tickets are on sale today at for this long-awaited double bill pairing of The Fibonacci and Uku – Behind the Canvas by two dynamic New Zealand choreographers.

NZDC Co-artistic Director and choreographer of The Fibonacci Tor Colombus said “We’re thrilled to finally be able to share Night Light with audiences and are committed to going ahead regardless of the COVID-19 traffic light setting we find ourselves in. We want to express immense gratitude for the support our community has shown us during this time and are excited at the prospect of performing live again.”

Co-artistic Director James O’Hara added, “Night Light invites us to listen, consider, and re-gather as we celebrate the return of live performance. We are grateful to be sharing our art with you again live, and despite the limited capacity, to be able to offer accessible ticket pricing to these two dynamically contrasting yet complimentary works.”

The Fibonacci by NZDC co-Artistic Director Tor Colombus opens up a dreamy terracotta world that explores the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. With a movement vocabulary that drifts effortlessly between the natural and the mechanical, The Fibonacci reveals a tapestry of pattern and form, which provokes a feeling of connection to something deeper than the detail of each individual action.

The world premiere of emerging Māori choreographer Eddie Elliott’s Uku – Behind the Canvas explores the power of vulnerability and the strength within struggle. With inspiration from visual artist Andy Denzler, Eddie draws from the pūrākau (storytelling) held within Te Ao Māori and weaves it with New Zealand Sign Language to reveal the complexity of his own human experience. Anticipation and intensity are at the heart of movement paired with cleansing uku (clay) which symbolises the relationship between Hineahuone and Tāne – where we’ve come from and to where we will return.

From floating through time and space, observing nature’s mysterious golden spirals in Colombus’ The Fibonacci to grounding down with feeling in Elliott’s Uku – Behind the Canvas where confronting storytelling is at its most raw, these two divine performances delivered one after the other offer an evening of earthy contrast not to be missed.

Accessing the Digital Performance 

Friday June 24 2022, 7:30 PM NZST (67 mins)

The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) invites you to indulge your senses in a critically acclaimed double bill by two dynamic New Zealand choreographers who bring to life an ancient sequence of nature and an environment that exists between fiction and reality.

Filmed at Auckland’s ASB Waterfront Theatre earlier this month and available on demand to enjoy when and where you wish this Matariki long weekend, Night Light will leave you in awe of the talent and artistry brewing on the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“A tour de force…powerful and emotional…a post-lockdown celebration of community”
– Francesca Horsley, Theatre View

🔗 to purchase tickets.
Download your free digital programme.

Please note: This stream will be available to watch until Sunday June 26 2022, 11:59 PM NZST

The New Zealand Dance Company

The Fibonacci

Tor Colombus: Choreographer

Rowan Pierce: Sound & Spatial Designer

Jo Kilgou:r Lighting Designer
Elizabeth Whiting: Costume Designer

Uku – Behind the Canvas

Eddie Elliott: Choreographer & Composer Composer
Alistair Deverick: Composer

Jason Wright: Composer

Jo Kilgour: Lighting Designer

Rona Ngahuia Osborne:Costume & Set Designer



Carl Tolentino, Chrissy Kokiri, Katie Rudd, Ngaere Jenkins, Xin Ji and Toa Paranihi


Janine Dijkmeijer Tor Colombus James O’Hara
JP Bolton Caroline Bindon Christine Rice

Executive Creative Director Co-Artistic Director Co-Artistic Director Creative Producer

Artistic Manager & Marketing Designer Finance Manager



Maori contemporary dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

90 mins

Uku – Behind the Canvas is exceptional, chthonic, primordial.

Review by Lyne Pringle 26th Jun 2022

The New Zealand Dance Company once again pivots to present their season of Night Light, on line. Whilst a digital performance cannot emulate the magic of the ‘live’ experience, this initiative gives access to a wider audience. Night Light was to be presented in Whangarei and Otautahi – the company’s first tour in over two years – but these aspirations were curtailed several times by Covid restrictions.

The programme consist of two highly contrasting works, one a whisper and one a scream, one a gentle poem of harmony and hope, one a grunty rap of rage. They complement each other well and together provide a playground for the sublime dancers of the company to unleash their multi-dimensional talents.

The Fibonacci choreographed by Tor Colombus is a reworking of the piece that was first presented by NZDC in 2019. In the interim the choreography has developed and contains more texture and accents than the previous iteration. Dancers, Carl Tolentino, Chrissy Kokiri, Ngaere Jenkins, Brydie Colquhoun, Xin Ji and Toa Paranihi create a gentle and sinuous ensemble as they flow through intricate sequences of movement.
Less inventive in the movement vocabulary – arms  bend at the elbows to rotate and ripple around an often upturned head, the upper chest circles then side lifts, the feet are grounded with minimal leg action and a handful of jumps and minimal lifts – rather the real juice and choreographic virtuosity comes from the complex intertwining of dancers as they join another, then split apart to regroup in completely different configurations.

The Fibonacci is inspired by mathematical sequences found in nature in which each number is the sum of the two preceding ones. It can be seen in the flowering of an artichoke or the uncurling of a fern. This dance murmuration evokes these patterns,  drawing out a sense of wonder in the viewer. The soundscape by Rowan Pierce gives the work dynamics and massages the ears whilst his gorgeous spatial design, lit warmly by Jo Kilgour, soothes the eye.

Taking inspiration from the glitched-on-the-cusp-of-death paintings of Andy Denzler and placing his ideas firmly in the domain of Te Ao Māori, choreographer Eddie Elliott unleashes his snarling, playful and surprising imagination to create a panoramic work: Uku – Behind the Canvas.

Elliott continues to grow as a maker. He has a remarkable talent for evoking realms of the seen and unseen onstage, as if the spirits hover, as if the performers move in and out of their physical sheaths. He is unafraid to place his tongue in his cheek which is refreshing and breaks down the earnestness that so often bogs down contemporary Māori dance.
This results in a work that is vast in its textural range and highly inventive choreographically in terms of the movement vocabulary, the use of space and configurations and the overarching rhythm and dynamics. The world of Uku – Behind the Canvas is evoked sonorously. Jason Wright and Alastair Deverick are a magicians of sound, Elliott is fortunate to have these collaborators. Many many moments are embellished in their potency by the utterly surprising sounds that hover around the ear. Lighting designer Jo Kilgour also brings great skill to the arena with her haunting lighting – the use of distinct pools and shafts create a filmic intensity.

Chrissy Kokiri is the beating heart of Elliott’s work She is utterly expansively riveting. All the dancers of the company bring an intensity to their performances that simmers beyond the screen. They are not just physically astonishing and adept but also deeply and dramatically convincing as human/animals writhing, stalking and shapeshifting on the stage.

Uku – Behind the Canvas is exceptional, chthonic, primordial.


  • Copyright © belongs to the reviewer


Myth buster June 26th, 2022

In the progamme for Night Light, celebrating the tenth anniversary, I note that the description of the genesis of NZDC incorrectly maps the place of this company as the front runner for a ‘full-time’ contemporary dance company post Impulse Dance Theatre and Limbs Dance Company in New Zealand. 
It characterizes Footnote New Zealand Dance with other dance companies thus: ‘predominately either part-time collectives, educationally focused, training grounds, culturally centred or ‘pick-up’ [companies]’. This is an incorrect statement that diminishes  the considerable ground-breaking work of other dance companies in Aotearoa. 
Footnote NZ Dance has been sustaining a company of five dancers for annual, up to forty week contracts for close to twenty years and delivering work of the highest quality to audiences across the length and breadth of New Zealand as well as critically acclaimed international collaborations and performances. It recently celebrated its 30 anniversary. Many of this country’s leading dance artists have worked with Footnote during this time.
In the last two and half years, Footnote NZ Dance has managed to fully deliver its projected targets of four national tours of new works with leading and developing choreographers, produced two seasons of offshoot company Choreoco, held four professional development laboratories for the wider sector and sustained the development of an international co-production with Canadian artists.

Perpetuating this mythic narrative for NZDC is not helpful for or respectful to the wider industry. Yes NZDC is doing important work but it did not invent or solely keep the wheel turning for vibrant contemporary dance in New Zealand.

Make a comment

Remarkable language of movement.

Review by Night Light 08th Jun 2022

The New Zealand Dance Company’s long-awaited season Night Light was an exciting kinesthetic experience on a rain swept Auckland night with Covid-19 cases rising again. It was a perfect launch back into live dance after two and half years of watching online. In the programme notes the two works were described by NZDC’s co-artistic director and choreographer, Tor Colombus as ‘evolving into the fullest expression of their ideas’, following the pandemic-driven cancellations of the original 2020 performances.

The Fibonacci was an optimistic, endorphin producing work that affirmed the importance of community and human touch.  A single lamp descended, spreading light and summer warmth over the six dancers,  clad in mango palette costumes. Fibonacci describes a mathematic sequence where each number is the sum of the two preceding, and it is this precise structural device that drove both the inventive musical score by Rowan Pierce and the light yet controlled choreography by Colombus. The score was  repetitive, mesmeric, with shifts in tempo and style, and the movement, wedded to the score’s geometric patterns exuded freedom and happiness.

In nature the Fibonacci sequence is revealed in myriad forms and Colombus sought to imitate this variety in the work’s design.  Each element began as a tight group, before the dancers rippled out into the space in flowing duets, trios, solos then regrouped once more in unison. As if fed by a spring the dancers expressed a natural effervescence, with articulate visual language of sweeping arms and legs, elastic backbends and spins. Individual expressions of desire, isolation or disunity were softly yet insistently dismantled with a return to the group’s togetherness.

Seemingly a post-lockdown celebration of community, it was indeed prescient; The Fibonacci was created by Colombus prior to the first lockdown.

In complete contrast,  Eddie Elliott’s Uku – Behind the Canvas was situated in a shadowy, Te Ao Māori  story of birth, grief and ritual. A tour de force, it was constructed around the creation story of Tāne and Hineahuone, where the first wahine was created from uku (clay) by Tāne. The story was skillfully merged into a contemporary birth ritual, ipu whenua, with liquid clay as the medium for the life-giving power of women.

The meta-narrative, the Uku creation story, was dexterously woven throughout the work, giving it cohesion and discipline from the opening to the closing moments. A gourd provided a constant supply of clay liquid to which the dancers returned to coat their arms, legs and bodies. The grey emulsion acted as a catalyst for change, despair, renewal, succour and obsession. Chrissy Kokiri was a pivotal character who brought to life half-formed beings, and set them on a journey that merged ancestral voices imparting ancient ways of being, to offbeat contemporary  exchanges and intricate relationships. It delved deep into disrupted psyches and loss and rose triumphant with exhilarating kapa haka, hip hop and electric ensemble sequences. Elliot built dramatic tension and pathos then released it with humour or dazzling dance. It was powerful and emotional.

The choreography was matched by the brilliance of the six dancers – Kokiri, Carl Tolentino, Ngaere Jenkins, Xin Ji, Toa Paranihi, Brydie Colquhoun – who carried the depth of the work from their personalities onto the stage with breathtaking physicality.

In both works the impressive array of artistic talent – composers, lighting, costume and set designers and Mātanga Mātauranga Māori (cultural advisor) – all contributed to the lustre and integrity of the programme. Given the NZDC’s level of professionalism and articulation to realise so completely each choreographic vision, one thing is certain – this is a programme that will resonate with audiences across Aotearoa and needs to tour. Our land and people will be the stronger for the opportunity to share in the remarkable language of movement, expressed through these impressive works.



Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council