NOT ODD HUMAN
Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland
05/10/2019 - 06/10/2019
Not Odd Human
Sam Coren (Hofesh Shechter Company) is an award-winning performer, choreographer and movement director based in London who has come to Aotearoa to create a new work with graduating contemporary students of the New Zealand School of Dance.
As a performer Sam has worked with global leading dance and theatre companies including Jasmin Vardimon Company, Clod Ensemble, and spent 5 years as a senior member of Hofesh Shechter Company.
Sam brings an innovative perspective and movement style to this work performed by the next generation of dance artists. This fresh style of movement provides a unique viewpoint on how the human body tells stories.
Choreographer: Sam Coren
Performers: 3rd year contemporary dance students at New Zealand School of Dance
Photography by Stephen A’Court
Dance , Contemporary dance ,
Review by Felicity Molloy 06th Oct 2019
Sam Coren, previously of the renowned British Hofesh Shechter Company, brings the influences of his master to the fore in Not Odd Human, and potentially a performance and cultural conundrum. The 3rd year contemporary students of the New Zealand School of Dance, perform with grace, comedic attention, intelligence and aplomb. Their voices are just as grounded and eloquent. Verbal offerings, pitched at the beginning (prologue), middle and end (epilogue) of the work provide the rhetoric and darker elements of the narrative.
In an odd mismatch of performance convention, only one of the dancers is named, nor is it easy to find the titles of the baroque and electronic music. Anonymity of two of the most critical components of this work, lets loose the imaginary about what an ‘odd human’ might be, and a more immediate response. Charlie Hopkins, 11 years old and my seat-buddy for the evening, supports this piece of writing with discernments of an even newer generation.
Not a pin drops as the auditorium darkens. The prologue is delivered by a slight male dancer in period costume. The guy calls himself Geoff. The entirety of the evening’s costumes reminds us of childhood fossicking in dress-up boxes. Garb is colonial-style, off-sepia hues and eclectically interesting, especially if self-selected. Each selection fits moments of focussed characterisation, embedded in the rich and dynamic movement segments.
Each of the following segments deserves a note: Human in Painting is an introductory fragment in ritualistic and photographic purpose. Dance movements translate self-conscious capabilities of emerging dancers into the tapestry of a courageous performance experience.
Actual Human is symbolic of the curious mix of eras and historical experience of this choreographic work. This is a comedic dance; a medieval folk tale wrapped in eco certainty. A dancer remains at the back of the stage with the others in front mirroring and encircling movement. This grouping and unusual dancing resembles staring into a kaleidoscope.
Fake Human is like a factory making humans. Doll-like expressions, hastily applied make-up, static movement, lots of silence and front of stage stillness conjures an eerie quality.
Missing Human starts with the dancers switching fairy lights on and off in random progression, lighting up a variety of freeze frames. A dramatic visual moment peaks the choreographer’s oddly human artistic purpose. A string of lights is used as a skipping rope to highlight the body of a jumping dancer. Power and time and timing combine in one embroidered moment. The sketches take us to a gruesome story of a doomed family, where everybody unfortunately dies. This segment shows a few of these deaths in graphic enactment.
And Simple Human is also highly amusing. Still nihilist and in dark intention, the final segments of Not Odd Human slow us to the inevitable ending. And once again our slight male dancer asks us questions, and answers them himself – so yes, rhetorical. Not Odd Human deserves seeing and enduring. As much as it is performed by a next generation of performing artists, Not Odd Human speaks to an interesting lineage in dancing and viewing contemporary dance.
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