Nga Taonga Sound and Vision, Wellington

06/11/2014 - 08/11/2014

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, 31 Queens Garden, Dunedin

10/10/2014 - 19/10/2014

Art Box, Cnr Madras and St Asaph Streets, Christchurch

03/10/2014 - 08/10/2014

Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium, Auckland

15/10/2015 - 15/10/2015

TEMPO Dance Festival 2015

Dunedin Arts Festival 2014

The Body Festival 2014

Production Details

Tempo 2015

Spend an intimate evening with internationally recognized choreographer and filmmaker Daniel Belton (Time Dance and Soma Songs, Tempo 2012). With performance excerpts from some of his recent film works, OneOne explores human existence as part of eternal cycles. It suggests ritual where echoes of the past resonate in a universal view of the present.

“Belton’s award-winning films are dazzling intellectual riddles.” –The Listener


60 mins

OneOne is a living membrane of dance, sound and light. Daniel Belton and Good Company respond to the hollow stones of the Maerewhenua River with a powerful multi-media installation at the Body Festival 2014.

The hollow river stones offer liminal spaces, deep recesses. The intention is to convey a kind of unwrapping in this process, whereby layers of time can be opened and read in a way that we might measure earth movements and weather patterns. The action of making sound animates these internal spaces and captures the movement of human presence. The stones can be seen as time capsules containing dance that has been found in a specific frequency of vibration.

OneOne creates a sense of an ancient culture, an archetype being unearthed through real-world experience that is timeless and contemporary. This new work is a collaboration between Good Company Arts and renowned artists including Richard Nunns, Nigel Jenkins, Janessa Dufty, Jac Grenfell, and Simon Kaan.


Christchurch   – The Body Festival 2014 – Fri 3rd – Wed 8th October 10.00am – 4.00pm  Koha/donation


Dunedin – Arts Festival Dunedin 2014 – Toitū Settlers’ Museum, Dunedin, 10-12 Oct 2014, 17-19 Oct 2014


Wellington – Nga Taonga Sound and Vision – 6 – 8 November 2014  at 7pm

Director: Daniel Belton.

Producer: Donnine Harrison.

Dancer-choreographers: Daniel Belton, Janessa Dufty.

Performer/installation: Simon Kaan.

Taonga pūoro soloist: Richard Nunns.

Sound/music: Nigel Jenkins, Xensonic & deciBel3.

Costumes: Donnine Harrison, Tanya Carlson, Donna Jeffers.

Geophysics animation: W Jac S Grenfell.

Additional digital animation: Weathermapper, Kano.


Site-specific/site-sympathetic , Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Dance ,

70 mins, repeating 10am-4pm daily

The Heart of it is Light

Review by Jennifer Nikolai 16th Oct 2015

The format of this Tempo Dance Festival event was inviting, accessible and as warm and invigorating as Daniel Belton is as a presence; humble yet articulate of the scale and impact of his work.  For Daniel Belton (Good Company Arts) fans and new audiences, having Belton facilitate a screening/lecture dem/question and answer style format – gave the audience insight into the retrospective impact of this New Zealand artist.  Although he began by screening pieces previously curated in this and other national and international festivals, he concluded with an introduction to the process and selected sequences in his recent work OneOne.  

OneOne has made its debut in New Zealand and was taken to the Cook Islands where, as Belton articulates – this is the home of the work.  The point of origin is the river stones of the Maerewhenua River.  They are a source of conceptual and graphic design in a striking visualization between nature, dance and navigation.  The river stones that Belton and his Father collected a few years ago have been 3D modelled, and become a binding source for sound and image driving the tone of this extraordinary discussion between analogue and digital forms.  A central, graphic effect in this work is the modelled river stone – expanded, rotated.  We hear its resonance and in this moving image sequence, the river stone also becomes a bed, a pod, or as Belton suggests, a Waka or a spaceship; ambiguous still – returning the dancer, or turning the dancer home and afar.

An illuminated dancer larger than her geometric surroundings, in a glowing white costume, occupies the frame with undulations and extensions, with a momentum that resembles a river moving rapidly.  The dancer, Janessa Dufty is a central feature in Daniel Belton’s most recent work.  A structured improvisation process between Belton and Dufty resulted in what was captured in moving image as fresh and immediate.  Yet her sequences are repetitive enough in the editorial choices to provide a calming or meditative quality with the stunningly captured movement of this gorgeous dancer, in tactile, hypnotic and appropriately scaled movement phrases.  The flesh, the face, the limbs exposed, the skin of the dancer and her rhythm, create a complimentary superimposed somatic navigation of this dancing body and the light she sources.  She is light, and glowing.  The light sourced from her movement, is perceived as a metaphor for the navigation charts used in the Waka, to guide ocean travellers. 

The themes of the digital and live in this work as well as retrospective works, carry similar or signature characteristics of Belton’s.  The range of works and the venues they are viewed in are expansive and adaptable.  As Belton showed us pieces originally performed with live musicians in proscenium theatrical venues, he also introduced us to a more recent optical experience he was commissioned to create on an upper façade, a new library in Denmark.  His interrogation of space and scale, geometrics and light respectfully reference moving image experiments and historical discovery between light and space.  They are adaptable to large-scale public instillations, gallery exhibitions, traditional theatrical spaces and as in his recent collaboration; of planetariums, expanding the peripheral optical experience.  To his audience he did refer to himself as a choreographer and a filmmaker, and he is so much more.  His play with sound, with composition and light, with space and possibilities between analogue and digital mediums allows for his works to be re-considered, re-curated and re-choreographed with varied purpose. Characteristics of the trace and the trail, the blur and archetypal figures alongside geometric forms in real and manipulated time, remind us of the capacities between collaborative forms of moving image and live dance. 

We ask when these elements are all so succinctly in dialogue: “where did you start, what came first?”  When asked these questions of his compositional process, Belton replies: “I collect ideas, I write some things down, I have my books with images and fragments.  I dip back into my library in quiet moments; a fusion sometimes of very different elements.”  His work is overwhelmingly layered, a fusion of moving image history, inquiry and experimentation.  Belton is a choreographer working with bodies in space as much as captured bodies, re-considered in a range of dimensionalities.  Of his inspiration for this extraordinary process of making, he states: “old cinema, literature and music inspires me.” Even more satisfactory as we listen to him speak about his compositional process, is his response to OneOne.  He says, “the heart of it is light.” Yes, it is.



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Dance Notation of the Universe

Review by Jennifer Shennan 11th Nov 2014

Oneone is Daniel Belton’s latest film, a study of the time before and the time now. The title is multilayered – soil, in te reo and three in binary.

There is an astonishing 50 minute sound track with Richard Nunns playing nga taonga puoro – koauau, purerehua, and the ancient hollow river stones of a North Otago landscape that was once under the ocean but is now in middle earth. Te sounds of river rushes, water and breath are a part of the sounscape. We are in Cetacean era, with fossils of whales and dolphins .. and yet also in the front wave of today’s sophisticated techniques to capture the look and the sound of this ancient time. Belton is a visionary artist.

Janessa Dufty from Sydney Dance Company is filmed from close and far, in sequences that are then doctored, mirrored, echoed, reflected and time-lapsed to stand for many things and people. There’s an impression of a time belt, like a horizontal stave of cosmic dance notation, which has the dancer(s)  always moving from east to west … well, there are three established dance notation systems but since nobody in New Zealand employs them to any useful end of literacy in movement , so why shouldn’t Belton devise his own?  The dancer moves through and around charted territory which has co- ordinates of physics, astrophysics, geometry, trigonometry, in a word, order in space, that is so evocative of his recent and beautiful work Satellites, for RNZB’s Allegro programme.

Nigel Jenkins, Jac Grenfell, Donnine Harrison and Simon Kaan are part of the creative team who all bring impeccable skills to the work. It’s a knockout.

I am told it is difficult to programme Belton’s films in dance festivals here. Foxed if I can see why that should be. Buenos Aires, Prague, Copenhagen and Berlin want them.  Do we only want what we have seen before? 


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Achieving a super-natural aesthetic

Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 14th Oct 2014

Inaccurately promoted as a Dunedin Festival “World Premiere”, Daniel Belton’s latest piece of digital dance film in fact opened in Christchurch before hitting Belton’s home town. The piece is also somewhat grandiosely described as an “installation” and “interactive exploration,” though little the visitor does seems to interrupt or alter the single channel looped film projected against the wall.

The sculptural elements, provided principally by Simon Kaan, have potential. The floor of the dark space is peppered with irregularly shaped, black reflective trays upon which rest large stones drawn from the Maerewhenua River. Elsewhere, cones of thin wicker reeds are stacked above upward-pointing pin-spot-lights. All of these items: black pools of water, stones and reeds, feature in the film, so their three-dimensional presence is a welcome, if perhaps slightly tautological, addition within the projection space. Two of the main cones of reeds rest above amplifiers which run a separate audio track of trickling water, the sound of which underpins all of the main action.

The exhibition space at Toitū is however an unassuming seminar room with ugly carpet, and is extremely dark. Completely unable to see a thing as I entered, my own first act was to collide at some force with one of these structures, and the wide scattering of wicker rods across the floor beside it suggested that I was far from the first to do so.

In a more sympathetic, white cube gallery space, one imagines that this installation would be more effective, though I could not help thinking that placing it in a well-lit anteroom, before you reach the film itself, would have been more effective.

In short then, what one really has here is a dance film presented in a room with good sound spatialisation—and a very good film at that, I should point out.

The projection features dancer Janessa Dufty, whose sharp, bony movements, and obtuse crossing of limbs gives much of the more detailed choreography she executes a hard, articulated feel. Between these more complex, almost pained movements, she glides, moves into a balanced crouch, and then moves upward to point across her body and down. Hips sway and arms rise in order to bring trajectories in fractured curves and sharp arcs which redirect movement from one side of the body to another.

In a particularly striking moment, Belton’s camera frames her from the chest up as she clicks back into herself one sharply outstretched arm at the shoulder, her head moves forward as if carrying the energy of this fragmenting force across under her chin, and then she clicks out her right shoulder and pushes the force down the right arm and away.

In short, Dufty seems a body of bone and rock, of stretched and pulled materials, like the reeds she holds at either end to arch above and below her, or which she whirls above her head to produce sounds of a purerehua, or Māori bullroarer, or holds taut between both arms in a fashion reminiscent of a taiaha fighting staff.

Amongst the shaped sounds of water and rock which designer Nigel Jenkins provides, much of the more prominent acoustic material consists of Māori musical instruments performed by taonga pūoro legend Richard Nunns. Pūtōrino flutes, the pūtātara or conch shell trumpet, gourd percussion and the rare Maerewhenua River rattle stones or other rock percussion all feature.  Recorded in a rich, open space, using microphones placed close to the instruments, and with a certain amount of echo and processing, Nunn’s taonga pūoro meld perfectly with Jenkins’ electroacoustic setting. Hollow clatters and infinitely recursive, light clacks of echo and movement rest above scraping, misty atmospheres and intermittently held beats. The acoustic environment is one alive with stochastic interjections which defy classification, blending unprocessed sounds, cavernous echoes and digitally enhanced nature.

The imagery echoes this material, the screen crossed on horizontal planes by open armatures of undulating, digital landscapes, scans of porous rock surfaces (such as is characteristic of Maerewhenua River stone itself) and eye-shaped, waka-like structures. Figures are frequently placed in or above these slowly transiting objects, as though guiding great spaceships across an expanded, virtual realm.

Belton has had a tendency to multiply and fragment movement, to break it into increasingly small fragments as in stop-motion photography, and replay it in small, juddering loops. In previous works, it has often seemed like every action must be performed at least twice, if not more times, and the effect can, at times, be frankly frustrating, verging on the tedious.  For OneOne, Belton shows considerably more restraint. Movement is indeed blurred, and Dufty often performs alongside herself. The repeated passages are however typically longer than in Belton’s earlier works, and the looping and fragmenting less nervy and obsessive. The ambience here is rather of taking time, of a kind of abstracted reflection of corporeal and spiritual memory.

Shifting geometric lines punctuated by white junction points also shift and lock across the space. One sees Belton and Donnine Harrison (I think), in profile, arms gently teasing out and shaping the forward margins of the horizontal plane which they are travelling across, moving within or resting atop a giant stone. As they slowly transit and gently feel out the currents flowing across the black background and within the soundscape, one has the impression that they, together with Dufty and Kaan (who also appears) are all part of a ritual group charting and responding sympathetically to this super-natural space.

In short, the piece has a lovely restful quality, even as the sometimes fierce movements, rocky surfaces and harsh, striking sounds give a sense of material aggression and conflict beyond this.

Interestingly, whilst New Zealand audiences are likely to read this as a work of Pakeha-Māori bicultural art—the first to my knowledge that Belton has made, and which gives this piece an affect and weight which his previous, often more comic, dance film sketches do not always effect—Dufty herself is a Sydney Dance Company member of Filipino-Australian background. Her movement often reflects the strong, almost violent, skeletal fracturing that so much choreography from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide has exhibited since the 1990s.

This gives a curiously deracinated ambience to a work which, to most audiences here, will most likely be seen as reflecting key elements of Māori aesthetics.

The point of course is that the Māori are descendants of the greatest Pacific travellers and traders of all time. Contemporary indigenous identity in New Zealand is an increasingly layered, complex concept which has always, at some level, reflected cultural, racial and ethnic exchange. Belton’s collaborative work, particularly in its fusion of body, concrete, elemental matter, and evocative, digital spaces of both sound and vision, epitomises this new expansive model beautifully; definitely a stand-out highlight of the Dunedin Arts Festival so far.


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A richly engaging visual world

Review by Julia Harvie 09th Oct 2014

Daniel Belton, although somewhat geographically isolated in the NZ dance scene, is an artist internationally recognised and at the height of his career, working with incredible integrity. He is an artist who has dedicated himself to his practice, a practice that exists across disciplines. This practice has evolved and yet in essence, he has stood his ground in terms of movement language and concepts.

For OneOne, a multimedia installation at the Body Festival 2014, he has collaborated with a stellar list of artists including Richard Nunns, Simon Kaan, Jac Grenfell, Janessa Duffy and Nigel Jenkins.

I arrive at the Art Box and enter a cavelike space. This sense is all encompassing from the river stones, the sound, three water trays, mirrors carved to form puddles that reflect the film projected on the wall and the sculptural presence of black glass cubed speakers that provide a pedestal for faggots of thin branches. I have brought my new baby with me and sit and feed her. I feel timeless, as though I have found a quiet sanctuary on the time/space continuum. I could step outside and find I have been transported backwards or forwards thousands of years.

I read the meticulous, articulate and poetic programme notes. They are substantial but very clear. I do not feel that they state empty promises. Everything I read provides further openings without overstating what I am experiencing in the work. This is true for the work itself as well. A rich visual world that engages with me emotionally, physically and intellectually.

There is clearly a great deal of technology employed to create this wonderfully natural sense of space and time, and although in many ways one could argue the work is entirely abstracted, it is filled with universal symbols that I can make sense of.

Installations provide the viewer with the opportunity to take a quick glance, get the gist and move on but this work is definitely worth sitting in and with for the hour long loop. Time passes quickly and yet peacefully, the viewer is given a full sensory experience. I can move the rocks, I can create ripples in the water trays and reposition myself to view the work surrounding me.

The work begins with a small male figure, seemingly standing at the opening to a cave, or perhaps the edge of the universe. He beckons to the opening. I see reference to William Forsythe’s movement technologies with lines denoting form and energy as two figures arrive on something of a waka, web, whale or spacecraft. The figures employ weaving like motions to navigate through a timeless universe.

The outline of a mountain range comes into view, four figures now occupy the space like hieroglyphics, rock drawings, waves, currents or the bones of a ribcage. I see generations upon generations of one body, a body of the land – a body that expresses the form of the land, sky and water. There is a sense that it is always moving and yet never changing in essence.

Like ripples and echoes on a time space continuum, this work is a beautifully fulfilled concept that is sophisticated and refined and yet utterly universal.  


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