On The Other Hand
18/10/2012 - 19/10/2012
Examining conversation through movement, this spectacular show of intriguing new choreography and technical proficiency is created by NZSD’s final year contemporary dance students.
‘On the Other Hand’ is a development of the extremely popular New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season show that premiered in May with a sell-out season of nine performances. These new choreographers have collaborated with sound artist James Dunlop and Artistic Coordinator Victoria Colombus to build a fascinating multifaceted theatrical experience.
Having studied full time at the NZSD for the past three years, the students take turns as both choreographers and performers. Revealing one character’s journey of self-discovery as the show progresses and the individual voices of its young protagonists, ‘On the Other Hand’ is dance that’s impulsive yet enchanting.
Thinking movement..... satisfyingly presented
Review by Rosemary Martin 19th Oct 2012
Place, courtship, mating, rejection, identity, social phobias, belonging, gender, being lost, being found, are all ideas that are experimented with in the New Zealand School of Dance’s performance On the other hand. Performed and choreographed by 11 students and with Victoria Colombus as Artistic Coordinator, this piece was originally presented in the NZSD choreographic season in Wellington earlier this year and is now being shared as part of the Tempo Dance Festival.
Eleven young, fresh-faced dancers line the front of the space in the Q Theatre Loft. All eleven are smiling. Smiles grow into grins. As these grins begin to look uncomfortable they morph into silent laughter. Hysterical silent laughter. The laughter goes on, and on, turning into a playful exchange between laughter, serious movement, laughter, serious movement, and then more laughter – to the point where you begin to feel self-conscious, wondering, “are they laughing at me?” Perhaps this is the desired effect of this striking opening choreographed by Emma Dellabaraca.
Three dancers break open fortune cookies, leaving the tiny pieces of paper inside to flutter to the floor. Throughout the performance the act of breaking open a fortune cookie, eating it and then reading the message encapsulated inside becomes almost ritualistic. A loose narrative quickly develops, driven by a central character, ‘Gareth’, played by Gareth Okan. At various stages of the performance Okan subtly shares, in both movement and text, anxieties that spill out like an internal monologue that cannot be suppressed any longer. He then questions these insecurities and then re-questions the questioning, keeping a sense of humour and realness to this character and the text.
The voice of Sir David Attenborough guides a witty and well-crafted section of choreography by Simone Lapka. Lapka initially performs with a cool aloofness; however she manages to take us on a minor emotional rollercoaster within one of the final stages of the performance. At the point where four men take the stage to lip-sync the Etta James classic, At last, the group’s comic talents emerge strongly.
Several solos, duets, trios, quartets and group sections develop, offering sophisticated movement vocabularies and clever use of space and light. While well-rehearsed and immaculately refined, individual identities of each performer had not been lost – there was uniqueness to each performer’s movement. While I may have got caught up at times in the ‘movement’ it can be noted that this was not just movement for the sake of movement, it was thinking movement, intelligent movement, movement that was playful and innovative, at times appearing like an internal dialogue or secret conversation between the dancers, leaving you wanting to see more. With a closing section to the Vitamin String Quartet’s Bittersweet Symphony the full cast gathers in the space to perform several visually gratifying phrases with a cacophony of vocal sounds interjecting and/or spurring on the movement.
The beautiful physicality of the performers cannot be ignored. An early Forsythe-eque solo by the divine Samantha Hines oozes commitment and sheer corporeal prowess at a frenetic pace. Matte Roffe shines throughout the entire performance. Technically heavenly and exuding confidence, I would have quite happily watched him dance for hours. A solo in the mid-section of the work by Brydie Colquhoun lifted the performance to another level. Colquhoun performed ‘tricks’ without them becoming ‘flashy’. The movement simply emerged from her body like she was born to bend, twist, jump and turn in every which way, presenting us with a paradox of a performer who is completely in control yet completely wild.
On the other hand reiterates why NZSD is considered to be New Zealand’s finest dance training location. Sometimes it can be so satisfying to see a work of just the right length, with just the right soundscape, costumes, movement and just the right dancers – dancers who exude dedication, wondrous technique and creativity. Katherine Baring-Gould, Brydie Colquhoun, Emma Dellabarca, Samantha Hines, Simone Lapka, Andrew Miller, Gareth Okan, Matte Roffe, Frankie Sampson, Andrew Searle and Pamela Sidhu, you are all quite wonderful – please go forth, have wonderful careers, create and dance.
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