One Way

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

21/05/2010 - 29/05/2010

Production Details


See some of the best young dancers in the country perform in the New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season, One Way. This innovative performance season will integrate dynamic dance, stunning lighting, edgy set design and 100% New Zealand music.

The New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season has become a much-anticipated annual event in the Wellington dance calendar, and is created by third year contemporary dance students from the New Zealand School of Dance in collaboration with costume construction and technical students from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.  

“This is a great chance for audiences to see the cream of emerging dancers and choreographers just as they are about to embark on professional careers,” says Paula Steeds-Huston, NZSD’s Head of Contemporary Dance. “The students always present an electrifying performance, and this is a great opportunity to see their creativity at work as well.”

Set in a monochromatic no man’s land, One Way takes the audience through time and space in a captivating one hour performance.

Internationally recognized dancer and rehearsal director, Victoria Colombus, is the Artistic Coordinator for One Way. Colombus graduated from NZSD in 2002 and since then has established a highly successful career both in Australasia and Europe. She has toured with companies such as Black Grace, Australian Dance Theatre and Michael Parmenter’s Commotion Company. More recently she worked alongside fellow NZSD graduate Ross McCormack to create ‘Nowhere Fast’ on acclaimed Australian contemporary company Dance North.

“Working with the NZ School of Dance students has been a fantastic experience,” says Colombus, “They have an exceptionally high technical standard and an excellent work ethic; it’s inspiring to be able to help them develop their ideas and see their work come to life.”

Colombus has spent the last few months working closely with the student choreographers – Carl Smit, Emmeline Eichmann, Michelle Henderson, Danielle Lindsay, Olivia McGregor, Shaughn Pegoraro, Alana Sargent, Lisa Brooker, Emma Coppersmith, Charlotte Davies and Kyah Dove – to create One Way.

The New Zealand School of Dance has a strong tradition of producing choreographic talent. NZSD alumni include renowned contemporary choreographers Raewyn Hill, Daniel Belton, Taiaroa Royal, Taane Mete, Ross McCormack and Shona McCullagh.

One Way opens Friday 21 May at Te Whaea Theatre, Wellington.

One Way

Te Whaea Theatre
11 Hutchison Road
Newtown, Wellington
7.30pm, Friday 21 – Saturday 29 May
2.00pm, Sunday 23 May, no evening performance
No performance Monday 24 May.
Tickets are $18, or $15 concession.

55 mins

A bright future

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 27th May 2010

An empty space, dimly lit with a scaffolding structure. The stage fills with students in a melange of style and clothing. Retro is popular both on and off the stage and it was interesting to see this fashion parade of young dancers.

The continuous structure, in which eleven works ran together using both sound and movement links worked well. It was clear where each new choreographer’s voice took command. The dancers are looking great and have a strong technical mastery and sense of stage statement.

That said, some of them need to develop their release techniques and to make the floor their friend as they hurl themselves across space!

I felt that newly appointed Head of Contemporary Dance, Paula Steeds-Huston and rehearsal director Victoria Columbus had created a strong performance and successfully found that elusive One Way for these students to be best displayed. There was humour, a set that meant many exits were achieved by simply falling off the stage, lots of interaction, lots of giggling and a range of themes.

I liked the movement in Alana Sargent’s Table of Eight but was a little bemused on reading the notes and discovering that the dance was about death…likewise an immaculately danced solo called Back to the Beginning by Charlotte Davies choreographed by Emma Coppersmith turned out to be about dementia?

Programme notes can sometimes try too hard although there is no question that performance context is ultimately as important as the steps.

There was little partnering work in the pieces, but in Love Songs, choreographed by Danielle Lindsay, the duet for Alice Macann and Lewis Major was truly inventive, musical and a stand out section in the evening.

I liked the way sound designer James Dunlop had merged a wide range of music choices and was also pleased to note that although there was much that was derivative of other works the stylistic and vocabulary of our own New Zealand choreographers were clearly evident.

The influence of Sarah Foster, Malia Johnston and Claire O’Neill were very strong indeed. Costume design led by Donna Jefferis and lighting design mentored by Lisa Maule were both excellent.

One Way promises much for the future of New Zealand contemporary dance and showcases these talented young energies in their way of thinking and their way of dancing too. Well done.
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Stumbling blocks to seeing choreographers’ true potential

Review by Jennifer Shennan 25th May 2010

One Way is this year’s season of contemporary dance choreography by students at NZSD, in collaboration with young composers and design students. After an impressive atmosphere in the opening scene, eleven pieces were linked into a sophisticated hour-long sequence that masked where one dance began and another ended.

There were certainly ideas with potential, several striking passages of group work, as well as interesting music composition, all of which I would love to discuss and praise but can’t locate. A printed programme with the relevant information was available but we had no cue, time or light to read it, thereby making choreographers, dancers and composers nigh anonymous within the larger scenario. Such practice is not adopted with student work in music composition, in creative writing, or in visual arts. Why should it be in dance?

These skilled dancers do move in compelling ways, but the movement vocabulary lacks the range of individual voices that are normally such a special part of young artists’ work in progress.

There were recurring themes of ditzy females, leering laughing males, violence, no sign of a relationship starting let alone developing, sudden disappearances into an unidentified other place, and many repeated staccato gestures of arms and hands as if a sign-language craving interpretation. These youngsters are telling us about their world, and we do want to listen, but character and some contrast in costume is needed to achieve that.

One work was said to depict the effects of dementia on a family, but sadly it was unclear which dance this was. Guidance from tutors is needed when a brave young student has the courage to tackle such a poignant and important theme.

Many followers of NZSD regret this recent approach to the staging of emerging work. Encouragement to an individual choreographer is the only way forward and, although we know they know who made what, the audience is left in the dark about provenance. There are several formulae that could release the choreographers’ considerable individual talents to be shared with the audience.

That said, the dancers are fabulous, and I’ll bet the choreographers and composers are too. Kia kaha ki a koutou.
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Personalities liberated when dancing peer-created work

Review by Jenny Stevenson 22nd May 2010

Although much is made of the importance of the position of coach in the sporting world, there is still very little commentary in the wider community about the people who train our elite artists in New Zealand. 

For twelve years, Garry Trinder, the Director of the New Zealand School of Dance, has been quietly and efficiently creating an environment conducive to steering dancers through the rigors of the highly disciplined and intense training regime that creates superb technicians. He has achieved this while maintaining the equally important balance that comes from nurturing the dancers’ spirit and honing their artistry. The outstanding success of many School of Dance graduates is a testament to his skill. 

Two weeks ago he made a very important appointment, bringing to the fore Paula Steeds-Huston as Director of Contemporary Dance – thereby setting the stage for a new direction in the school’s training pathway. It is a decision to be applauded. Ms Steeds-Huston’s influence is already marked at the school, after several years of teaching, and in this season of choreographic works by third-year contemporary-dance students, it is pleasing to see the results of her guidance. Some strong young choreographers are emerging.

The choreographers – Lisa Brooker, Emma Coppersmith, Charlotte Davies, Kyah Dove, Emmeline Eichmann, Michelle Henderson, Danielle Lindsay, Olivia McGregor, Shaughn Pegoraro, Alana Sargent and Carl Smit – have worked with students from Toi Whakaari’s Schools of Costume Construction and Entertainment Technology, to create the show, under the artistic co-ordination of Victoria Columbus.

It behoves the dance community to sit up and take notice of student choreographers. They are raw, but they are also strongly connected to the concerns of young people in our community. The imagery that they employ is potent; their world is starkly real, and invariably defined in black and white. It is yet to be tempered by compromise and shades of grey.

The setting for One Way is described in the programme as a “monochromatic no-man’s land”, with the ambivalent title suggesting either the possibility of many paths forward or a strict one-way flow. Victoria Columbus has obviously encouraged the eleven student choreographers to excavate this landscape in terms of their points of departure, narratives and beliefs, giving them a strong foundation from which to undertake their individual journeys.

The resultant works throw up some interesting conceits and employ a grounded vocabulary of movement that is mostly vigorous and acrobatic but sometimes also violent and jarring. The dancers appear to have an uneasy relationship with the floor, often hurling themselves fearlessly against its resistant surface.

One work segues into another in a seamless flow, so it often impossible to tell where a work begins and ends. The intention appears to be to people the landscape with characters and tell their stories. The intriguing costume design by Donna Jefferis is of a bygone era – possibly 40s or 50s America – which gives the choreographers licence to play. The lighting design under mentor Lisa Maule creates atmospheric pockets within the cavernous space, carefully tailored to define each work.

The men sometimes use inversions derived from street dance forms – balancing upside-down on their hands or their heads. A raised stage offers differentiation of levels, but there is very little use made of pas-de-deux lifts or soaring leaps, apart from the drops from the raised platform that see the dancers disappear from sight in the blink of an eye.

The most pleasing element of the works, however, is the personalities that emerge from the narratives. Dancers are freed to be themselves when they perform work created by their peers. The choreographers know their fellow dancer’s foibles and they invariably play to their strengths. The dancers in turn work hard to realise the vision of the choreography, because they appreciate and understand it.

Kyah Dove employs a strong cyclic design to depict the strictures of 1950s suburbia and the struggle to emerge as an intact personality. She creates humorous stereotypes who twitter and squeal as they enact their ritual routines, while Yan Hao Du struggles to emerge from of the background gloom.

Emmeline Eichman’s bird-like women are pitted against the giggling awkwardness of two youths as they slowly develop their male perspectives. Carl Smit uses inspiration from the sea to investigate inverted bodies suspended in time and the super-charged energy of dance.

Emma Coppersmith’s strong commentary on dementia sees Charlotte Davies dancing a poignant solo depicting the gradual descent into a baffling world where all is not as it seems. In contrast Lisa Brooker creates the joys of ‘girlitude’ where instinctive communication between girls/women is played out within the defining spaces of the ‘baggage’ of their suitcases.

Olivia McGregor skilfully uses different levels to investigate being marooned in a nightmare-like state of limbo, while Shaughn Pegoraro parodies the facile guises of the fashion world using a long length of floating, trailing tulle to emphasise its ephemeral nature and inconsequentiality.

Danielle Lindsay celebrates ‘The Glory of Love’ in her playful depiction of the unsettling nature of young love while Michelle Henderson employs a full cast of dancers in a strongly rhythmical work that delineates the emergence of the individual.

Charlotte Davies’ exploration of movement parameters pushes a group of male dancers to develop an atypical movement design that does not always conform to their habitual pathways. 

In contrast, Alana Sargent’s pulsing, rhythmical choreography is clearly defined and provides a strong foil to the driving wall of sound by Rowan Pierce, as the dancers endlessly repeat subtle variations of movement, pushing their limits of endurance, and Thomas Bradley dances an exquisite solo of unease.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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