Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington
09/07/2015 - 10/07/2015
16/07/2015 - 17/07/2015
Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton
19/07/2015 - 19/07/2015
What does it mean to make contemporary dance today?
NOW 2015 is about supporting the ideas of emerging choreographers – giving them a platform to experiment and thrive – and encouraging established choreographers to take risks. Natalia Maria Clark, Jared Hemopo, Anna Bate and Katharina Waldner will explore the rigors of modern daily life, the deconstruction of hip hop, the impact of sound, and the ever-shifting lens of history.
Kosta Bogoievski, Emma Dellabarca, Lana Phillips, Brydie Colquhoun.
Young, fresh and exuberant
Review by Brenda Rae Kidd 22nd Jul 2015
Phew. Needed a cup of tea and a lie down after watching NOW 2015.
Young, fresh and exuberant, Now 2015 is comprised of four new works showcasing contemporary New Zealand choreography. Dancers Jeremy Beck, Kosta Bogoievski, Bridie Colquhoun, Emma Dellabarca and Lana Phillips are outstanding. Fit and fine, one is left convinced that New Zealand dance is in very good hands indeed.
Revilery by Natalia Maria Clark is foreboding. A disturbing pulsing sonic soundtrack by James Risbey follows the dancers as they writhe, jerk, connect then disconnect across the floor canvas. As bodies drop continually we are reminded of the human capacity to take pleasure in pain. Comfortably familiar, we hold on to that which hurts. We embrace it. Haunting renditions of old nursery rhymes have one longing for ones teddy. A visceral raw piece, I feel that it may fare better later in the programme as it’s a hard hitter for first up.
5ive is a whimsical lighter work by Jared Hemopo and my favourite work of the night. Romantic use of lighting shadows dancers Beck and Bogoievski as their bodies weave into one, arms become many like that of an Indian god, lending a mystical eastern nuance. Erotic without being overtly sexual 5ive studies male interaction with a sincerity and openness that is not naturally of the kiwi psyche. Soundtrack by London duo KOAN is evocative and it is hard to determine whether the dancers follow the music or the other way round. Outstanding work.
Oomph, by Anna Bate is a hoot. The dancers become not just symbols of movement but instruments of sound. Can sound itself be a tactile thing? Dancer Jeremy Beck is compelling as he masters the awkward, jerky rhythms with such fun I could not take my eyes off him. Hilarious. The costume department makes good use of several sheets of coloured plastic for outfits. Quirky but no less an accomplished work.
Returning from the UK, choreographer Katherina Waldner’s work Gins and Nets has a distinctly antipodean feel. Some of we – after all – are descendants of refugees from Great Britain, who brought with them old traditions which became pantomime of a former life, in their new found home. Dancer Brydie Colquhoun is a delightful homecoming queen.
Wonderful work all round, the musical score deserves as much praise as the dancers and choreographers. Sometimes contemporary dance can be self- indulgent to the point it becomes inaccessible. NOW 2015 defies and challenges without leaving the audience out on the fringe.
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Invigorating and thought provoking
Review by Camelle Pink 17th Jul 2015
NOW 2015 (New Original Works) provides a delicious offering from artists: Natalie Maria Clark, Jared Hemopo, Anna Bate, and Katharina Waldner. Footnote New Zealand Dance Company shared works that covers a variety of tones that seem to captivate and amuse the audience. The vibe of the evening is fresh, playful and engaging.
For me, the soundscape for each piece is most striking. The musicians responsible (James Risbey, KOAN Sound, Lucy Beeler, Katharina Waldner/Paul Eaton/Neal Whitmore) should be commended as each track sits well with its performance.
Natalie Maria Clark’s work REVILERY brings us close to uneasy and interesting snapshots of ecstasy paired with self-abuse. At completion the dance leaves me feeling the madness and pleasure of the piece. With this comes a sense of hanging, being held in suspension as I reach out for something that is slipping past. The work is peppered with voice, but it does not always seem to need a vocal soundscape. However, the cyclic children’s songs speak of a simplistic pleasure, compared to the embodiment of these phrases that speak of an awkwardness, a manic struggle, and the presence of people trying to be together. The work feels a little lengthy at times, although this does not detract from the captivating performance by the dancers.
It is great to see the male duet 5IVE, by Jared Hemopo, is playful, and stays true to its blurb: ‘Image, Dubstep, Fusion, Intimate, Raw, Deconstruction, Hip Hop, Contemporary’. Clean and smooth. Jeremy Beck and Kosta Bogoievski embrace each other around a bright orb of light. Moving in and out of their space, they play against the barren stage, evoking a sense of something powerful guiding them. This feeling grows stronger as the cunning use of costume makes it look as if a hand emerges from one dancer’s abdomen, and this develops into an entertaining gestural sequence.
Appropriately titled, OOMPH by Anna Bate exudes a cartoon-like onomatopoeia of the body. The dancers are wrapped in their plastic raincoats which brings comic relief to the evening. They test how to make sound tactile. In the opening sequence Emma Dellabarca embodies the curious soundscape that the other dancers create on stage using microphones to amplify their body noises. This work seems to ask to what degree we transmit the ‘affect’ of the sound effects and therefore questions how we might experience them through our bodily matter. At times I am reminded of an 80’s themed music video, with the image of a lead singer/mover and the chorus/band setting the backdrop for the piece.
GINS AND NETS knits together an image of a very human journey. Katharina Waldner creates a series of droll freeze frames that break up movement sequences. It makes us feel as though we are flipping through an old photo album. Hand-held banners add a lightness to the piece, speaking where the bodies of the dancers do not. Overall, the use of props helps to give shape to the work and propel it along. The ending is a touch swift, but fitting. It leaves us wondering dreamlike about the meaning of what we have witnessed; wondering what has become of Johnny, Johan, Betty, Bridget, and Margarita.
The company dancers perform skillfully, maintaining our attention throughout the show. They slip between the four choreographies with agility and stamina. This series of short works demonstrates that Footnote New Zealand Dance continues to be versatile and allow artistic risk to hold a place in their repertoire. It is fantastic to see that they offer themselves as a platform for both emerging and experienced artists to develop new works.
Tonight’s performance was invigorating, and thought provoking.
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Lolly mix show
Review by Ann Hunt 16th Jul 2015
This show has been described as being like a lolly mix – something for everyone. And it is that.
Footnote New Zealand Dance’s NOW series promotes new original work by New Zealand choreographers. This 2015 production is comprised of four short works by experienced and emerging dance makers.
Revilery by Natalie Maria Clark is strong and dramatic, and references the harm we do to ourselves, and sometimes the perverse pleasure we gain, by holding on to self-destructive habits. James Risbey’s edgy, unsettling music is a perfect match.
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Investigating new territory
Review by Jo Randerson 13th Jul 2015
Footnote’s second series of New Original Work (NOW), premiered in Wellington last week to large crowds at Te Whaea theatre. Featuring three works from New Zealand choreographers, and one returning from the UK, it’s a stimulating fresh night from new voices which enjoyably opens up the dance form. (NB I am not reviewing from a dance background, but from my experience as a cross-disciplinary practitioner of physicalized performance.)
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Diverse demands, fantastic cohesion
Review by Sam Trubridge 10th Jul 2015
Footnote’s NOW (New Original Work) programme for 2015 presents the work of four choreographers: Natalie Clark, Jared Hemopo, Anna Bate, and Katharina Waldner. Wellington should be proud to have a dance company that employs a full-time ensemble of dancers and produces consistently strong and well-developed dance for the NZ audience like this. For 30 years they have defined dance in the country and supported the growth of generations of NZ choreographers and dancers like those on show this evening.
It is exciting to see a new work from Natalie Clark, the choreographer of the fantastic How to Make Friends and Still Appear Normal (2012). With Footnote she has made Revilery: a fidgety, staccato work made with her characteristic sense for the awkward but lyrical, the abject but sublime. She works wonderfully with the Footnote cast, who respond brilliantly to her choreography: Lana Phillips’ twisting backwards arms, the dense clots of arms bodies and legs, and the bold darknesses alternating with densely winding bodies to an urgent throbbing soundtrack by James Risbey. Clark is usually brilliant with text, but I found the use of nursery rhymes a little overdone here. Perhaps there have been enough dance shows that have used the creepy-but-familiar sing-song thing like this, or maybe the dance just doesn’t need it so much – it is full of stronger and more original moments than this.
Early on the dancers gather at the back of the space and slowly crush eggshells in their hands on their bodies, filling the Te Whaea auditorium with this sound as they continue to trample on the fragments that litter the floor. This moment sets the work clearly within a fragile social world, and a tactile, brittle sensuality that pervades the movement – such as Kosta Bogoievski climbing Emma Dellabarca’s feet-first, almost without her consent or awareness, as the two bodies compulsively intertwine and separate.
The company moves in unison wonderfully in this work, moving through beautifully empty sonic spaces set by the soundtrack and in a lighting scheme that moves from cold LED lamplight to warm hues cast by incandescent fixtures. It is fantastic to see lighting designer Marcus McShane at play with all of these works, helping to sculpt the space with his design and adding further movement scores to each through his great sensitivity.
Revilery is a work best understood through its changes: the beautifully crafted way that newcomer Jeremy Beck collapses from a failing shoulder stand, or how the work moves within a heartbeat from unified movement to taut solos, duets, or scrambling knots of limbs. Near the end Lana Phillips is left along on stage as her body condenses with self-comforting gestures, curling into a foetal shape, balanced on her buttocks with her legs close to her face, afloat in the dark room. Revilery is my highlight of the night – for its slick, nervous, and beautifully crafted movement that took us on a journey through the body’s tics, habits, and vulnerability.
The works that follow have a more upbeat character, animating the bodies in different qualities of movement, but maintaining on the whole an interest in vocalisation within dance.
Jared Hemopo’s 5ive is an exception because the two dancers (Kosta Bogoievski and Jeremy Beck) remain silent throughout the work. It begins with a stunning close-up in the dark room, of the two dancers cupping a light. The play of light through these 20 fingers makes it impossible to tell the bodies apart, and as their hands slowly separate the two figures take form, coalescing – one behind the other. And this is how the dance starts – with Beck following Bogoievski’s every movement, dancing around the periphery of his vision, like the giant shadow that they cast together into the space.
As the work opens up, so does the space, with a wonderful change that suddenly switches from their single focussed point on stage to a fill of the space as this pair’s movements become broader. They switch roles now, with Bogoievski becoming a guide for Beck as the gentle relationship between them shifts. This duet between the two males in the group is a wonderful exploration of a masculine gaze upon itself. It is a territory full of hazards because it would be easy for the work to become camp, narcissistic, or onanistic – and thereby lose some of the depth that the work retains. But the careful choreography and very considerate performance of this material has avoided these pitfalls by these two young dancers, creating a nuanced study of how one man and his double move together: portraying a man’s relationship with himself as much as with another man.
There is certainly a sexuality to the movement, but it is never raunchy. Even when an arm is pushed out from the middle of Beck’s shirt, the phallic qualities of this image is neither denied nor celebrated – but becomes one possibility in a moment that contains other ideas of man’s notions of handwork, craft, study, and self-reflection. After this sequence their movements become wider and less bound to one another. Now their mirroring of one another’s movement allows for a trading of roles, a more balanced, equal relationship between the two which switches status several times, allowing each to lead or follow at various times.
It is a beautiful, lyrical work that may appear less sophisticated and more schematic than Revilery, but it is nonetheless a wonderful choreography for these two dancers and a great part of the programme.
The third work in the bill is OOMPH by Anna Bate. Its onomatopoeic title reflects the interest this work has on a vocality that remains open through the duration of the dance. Thus, the sound-making mouth, throat, lips, tongue, and teeth dance with other parts of the body in what is simultaneously a rather light-hearted but also challenging piece of contemporary dance.
By contrast to the verbal, socialised quality of Clark’s utterances in Revilery this is a completely unbridled and un-languaged production of sound by a dancing body that becomes almost socially distressing or grotesque. Bogoievski weirdness is the most convincing, but Beck also has a wonderful panting sequence that wracks his whole torso with each breath and sets Bogoievski off again with his wide-mouthed montage of noises.
The dancers wear bright raincoats of yellow and green, which is a nice colourful addition to the hues of controlled palette for the evening. However, the lack of a qualified costume designer is visibly missing here, with the dressing of Beck and Phillips exhibiting poor design considerations and a clumsy approach to the delicate and beautiful garments that had been chosen.
Where this work really shines though, is in the vocal dexterity of this ensemble, who can brilliantly interweave voice with movement. Bogoievski is a consummate ‘foley-beat-boxer’, and the whole cast make an amazing chorus of discordant yelling, howling, and sound-making that is as complex, dense, and accomplished as their unison work earlier. There is a beautiful silence and a blush of green light as this polyphonic dance suddenly freezes, then relaxes, searching for a position, an angle, or a stance.
The last work, Gins and Nets, is by a New Zealand choreographer living in the UK. In this work Katharina Waldner appears to be telling the story of a migration to New Zealand, that clearly starts in a European space with a slow brass, rustic dresses, and tunics of black, grey and white. There is a lovely sympathy between these garments and the black drape of the space, beautifully picked out in the first scene with a side-light, as the dancers cluster together. It is a shame that a single asymmetrical strap on Dellabarca’s dress confuses this setting somewhat – neither establishing a convincing contemporaneity, nor fitting with the more pastoral, historical suggestions of the other garments.
The dance is clearer though – with a playful, wry sequence of recognisable social dance tropes, and tableaus that may be pulled from biscuit tin lids. Thus Dellabarca poses with her leg held back in a kitsch arabesque as Beck reaches for her. The dancers strut, partner, turn around the space, and routinely unfold bunting to punctuate certain moments or introduce new scenes with the letters spelled out on each flag. There is a fantastically amateur tableau of a moon and star, aided by a some glitter, glue, and white pantaloons. Meanwhile cuckoos and other continental bird life sing from the invisible branches of this far-off European homeland that could be France, Germany, England, or Switzerland (there was yodelling).
Brydie Colquhoun falls, and in a very compelling solo kicks at the ground with her feet, slowly turning, spinning in her repose as the others watch their fallen comrade. They try to shake her awake, and when this fails, they wrap her in a shroud. She returns at the end, in a white dress and a Miss New Zealand sash to the sudden birdsong of tui and antipodean bush-life. The bunting reappears, and Colquhoun repeatedly follows the invitation to walk underneath, as it slowly gets lower and lower – forcing her to the ground, forcing her to continually sink lower to pass the level set by these red/white/blue flags, until her final leap in a sudden and perfectly fleeting flash of light.
It is a great evening of strong contemporary dance with a fantastic range of works: between the dark and soulful (Revilery), through lyrically textured movement (5ive), humorous sonic experimentation(OOMPH), to the final piece about a mythical European homeland. As this company reaches maturity in its 30th year it seems fitting that it engages and acknowledges the expertise and sophistication that design specialists can bring to the process, even in the form of a mixed bill, as demonstrated by Marcus McShane’s fantastic contribution and by the excellent musical compositions for this evening. However, it seems that other key contributions are missing – in particular through costume design and the possibility for other design practices. In this way some choreographers fall into the common trap of thinking they can resolve costume and design concerns themselves, resulting in inconsistent or undeveloped aesthetic decisions.
Nevertheless the dancing is impeccable, and the ensemble works wonderfully through the diverse demands of this bill – proving their fantastic cohesion and individual talents at each turn. It is wonderful to see such unique styles that can so quickly merge into the group in an instant.
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