Old Tricks New Dogs

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

08/08/2017 - 12/08/2017

Production Details

Natalie Maria Clark

In Old Tricks New Dogs, Natalie Maria Clark (Everything Anyone Ever Wanted, Little Child of Miracle) digs up the bones of old shows and throws them at a salivating pack of agile wee pooches – er, talent – to gnaw on.

The audience is invited into a bizarre yet charismatic world to examine the dangers and delights of youthful desperation, the exploitation of unquestioned authority and the notion of the performer as a “dog’s body.”

Accompanied by an unsettling and poignant score from Doprah’s frontwoman, Indi Force, Old Tricks New Dogs celebrates young performers ready to make their pawmarks on the world with great fer-RAWR- city.

Please note: Old Tricks New Dogs is an immersive dance experience; audiences may be required to stand or sit on the ground as required. There will be a limited number of seats available for those that can’t stand for long periods of time

Starring the kick-ass talents of dancers and collaborators:
Alisha Anderson
Sarah-Louise Collins
Emma Cosgrave
Caitlin Davey
Jasmine Donald
Brittany Kohler
Natasha Kohler
Zoë Nicholson
Bella Wilson

Choreographic Direction & Faciliation:
Natalie Maria Clark / Black Sheep Productions

Composed by:
Indira Force (formerly of Doprah)

Lighting Design: 
Amanda Tito

Produced by:
Jesse Hilford

Contemporary dance , Dance , Dance-theatre ,

60 minutes

Dogging their steps

Review by Raewyn Whyte 10th Aug 2017

Natalie Maria Clark’s Old Tricks New Dogs is billed as a barking mad, immersive, collaborative dance-theatre venture. It is definitely that: at times, subtly mysterious, never predictable and entirely beguiling, a quality it shares with Clark’s three major earlier works, How to Make Friends And Still Appear NormalApt Y Idos and Everything Anyone Ever Wanted.

The nine dancers who have co-developed this work with Clark are confident, fluid movers who continually morph from human to canine-like and back again. As humans, they experience flickering emotions and motivations; by turns flighty and ferocious, combative and compassionate, watchful and wrathful. They tell jokes, leap and tumble, cluster watchfully in corners, break out in twos and threes and come together in occasional unison passages.

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Wonder dogs

Review by Brigitte Knight 09th Aug 2017

Old Tricks New Dogs successfully and fully explores its theme of dogginess through movement, sound, props, personalities and proximities. This non-narrative dance-theatre work follows a thread rather than a storyline, but nevertheless feels complete.

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Paw-fectly performed

Review by Chloe Klein 09th Aug 2017

The work opens in the bar downstairs with a lively pre-tour pep talk from a vigorous tour guide/animal expert (Natasha Kohler) that takes us into the studio/enclosure. With her guidance, and contrived health and safety measures, we are introduced to the vulnerable artist/animal.

Soon to emerge are 9 women in (lab) coats and arts-&-craft dog masks, who are interchangeably dancers and dogs, yelping, whining, barking, panting. Like dogs, they are excitable and affectionate, like dogs they cower with guilt and shame in the face of the anger of the alpha, and like dogs they forgive and forget their hurts at the drop of a high pitched “WHO’S A GOOD GIRL?!!”. And so the cycle of exploitation is set up. Natalie Clark – choreographer of an award-winning collective, she reminds us – satirically plays the alpha-Director, controlling and quick to criticise, never in a position of fault, ironically losing the respect she expects to be credited by her position. We are taken through a series of stories of agency, un/ethical creative relationships, and being an artist in the middle of it all. There’s no resolution or answers; in the end, we’re left in a mess without lasting change.

All this reflecting is wrapped up in absurdly humorous dance theatre. Throughout the evening we are treated to terrible/fantastic dog jokes, thoughtful movement phrases, and you’re-a-bad-person for-laughing-at-this moments. The dancers offer a confident performance, handling the acting and character consistently through unexpected twists and turns.

I do find there’s a lot going on, and struggle to process it all. There are threads that don’t seem to lead anywhere, and a few ideas that feel rushed.

As an audience, we are ushered and nudged around the studio throughout the hour, like sheep being rounded up and around by, well, sheep dogs. Sometimes we’re picked on, sometimes we’re taken care of, it’s nearly always confusing. Though the audience participation is more volun-told than volunteer, there’s enough trust in the absurdity of the work to think “screw it, why not?”. The confusion in the audience’s relationship to the work- from doing what we are told without knowing why, to validating Natalie’s fragile choreographer ego (or are we undermining it?)- both parallels and complements the power struggle happening within the work itself. As an audience member who has also lived some of the scenes Old Tricks New Dogs are parodying, it’s an interesting two-fold experience.

Old Tricks New Dogs is a quirky, humorous, and thought-provoking adventure. Back with a strong concept, Black Sheep Productions have injected playfulness into exploring choreographic and performative risks that the strong performance from the cast pull off paw-fectly.

Old Tricks New Dogs will be at the Basement until 12 August. 





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