Old Yeller 08

The Auckland Performing Arts Centre: TAPAC, Auckland

09/10/2008 - 10/10/2008

Tempo Dance Festival 2008

Production Details

Vintage performances as old yeller has a lease of new life 

At its heart, Old Yeller is a programme which emphasises that older dancers bring something special to their varying disciplines. This collection of strictly professional performers aims to give not only a fun and refreshing performance but a wider perspective to different generations of both dancers and audiences.

This year there any many dance luminaries performing. From Juliet Fisher, a past member of Martha Graham Dance Company, performing a work choreographed by Timothy Gordon (ex Bejart, NDT and William Forsyth), and the talents of Susan Jordan, Jenny De Leon and Charlotte 90 join the Old Yeller performance this year. Mareike Marygold (ez NZ Ballet) will be creating another witty clown piece.

A work is to be performed which was choreographed in 1920 by Doris Humphrey, a famous American choreographer of Martha Graham vintage. The work ‘Air on a G String’ to music by Bach is to be recreated by Louis Solino who was in the Limon Company in the States for many years. The five dancers he will recreate the work on are Shona McCullagh, Shona McKechnie and MaryJane O’Reilly (all ex Limbs Dance Co) Kate O’Rorke and Charene Griggs (ex PACT ballet co from South Africa and now programme co-ordinator of the dance programme at Unitec).

The programme looks set to be a sellout again this year as the audiences and dancers of today are fascinated by getting the chance to see work performed by their teachers, choreographers and mentors as they engage the audience with an elegant array of dance work.

Dates: 9 and 10 October, 6pm, duration 1 hour
Venue: TAPAC, 100 Motions road, Western Springs
Tickets: Adults $25 DANZ members $22, Concession $18, groups (8+) $22
Booking: Ticketek 09 307 5000    

50 min, no interval

Smashing the glass ceiling

Review by Dr Linda Ashley 10th Oct 2008

"There are always ancestral footsteps behind me, pushing me, when I am creating a new dance." ( Martha Graham, 1998).

In the last four years, Old Yeller has established a reputation for showcasing a diverse range of niche works from mature dancers threatening to raise the glass ceiling of retirement age, a generally accepted 35 years. However, Old Yeller also provides opportunity to view dance heritage works as living treasures. In this year’s programme we see both new and old works; ancestral footsteps are sometimes lived and other times lie in the shadows.

This year, for the first time, curators Anne Dewey and Liz Kirk perform together. Before the house lights dim, their brief whimsical, skilful and absurdly comic duet Oi Oi Savaloy, in a way encapsulates past Old Yeller programmes and, as it transpires, works from the eclectic current programme.

The horizon of the future curves back to intersect with what went before in the lived modern legacy of Jenny De Leon’s duet with Sjouke van Houten, Trust and Iris Wegmueller’s solo, The Lure. Both of these works resonate with a modern tradition in their choice of technical vocabulary, themes, gender relationships, costuming and so forth. This modern tradition is recognisable to many regular dance theatregoers.

On a personal note, stating the date of first performances in programmes gladdens the heart and, I think, adds substance to establishing a credible dance heritage. In this regard, Susan Jordan’s 1986 Holy Women – Softly Wakes My Heart, performed by Melanie Turner and Becca Wood, is an important glimpse into New Zealand’s dance past. Reconstruction rocks!

The comic in dance requires finesse, timing and rigour at the high end the skill range for performer and creator. In Knobbly Witches Knees, Charlotte90 performs her twelve-year-old solo and meets the demands of comedy in movement and voice with aplomb. I note that Jack Gray was rehearsal director and perhaps detect his incisive sense of comic timing in the witches’ deranged and hilarious ramblings. Spike Milligan’s Bad Jelly Witch would have found a soul mate here.

Old Yeller makes flesh the notion that Once a dancer always a… and this is presented in Moana Nepia’s short film and in the last work of the evening in two different ways. Firstly, Nepia’s delightful short biopic confirms that even when dancers move on into other employment their dance training and inspirational qualities make a difference in other parts of society. Secondly, embodied living dance history is evocatively depicted in the new choreography of Fetish Effigies (Tim Gordon; Dancers: Juliet Fisher and Izumi Griffiths). Echoes of Graham’s modern footsteps in post modern minimal choreography brings the evening to a suitably esoteric end – smashing the glass ceiling.


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