Pass The Dance / Chance

Wellington Arts Centre - Back Room, Wellington

10/02/2007 - 11/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Choreography and performance in Chance: Maria Dabrowska and Alex Leonhartsberger

Pass the Dance

Some history:
The first Pass the Dance took place at the 25th Anniversary of Contact Improvisation at Oberlin College, USA in 1997. It was a 25 hour continuous Contact Improvisation duet in an A B A B A  form, involving 144 dancers from all over the world. It took place in the grounds and studios of the college where Contact was first performed in 1972.

Pass the Dance for the Wellington Fringe 07 is an adapted version of the original.
Dancers from New Zealand and overseas are performing solo, duet and ensemble pieces which are either choreographed or improvised. Beginning at the Wellington Arts Centre foyer in Abel Smith street at 2pm and ending at Thistle Hall, cnr of Cuba and Arthur streets at 5pm, the dancing includes various sites and locations along the way. Passers by may be enticed into dancing by being handed the red wrist band. They may of course, decline the invitation and pass the wrist band back or to someone else. A log book will be present and available and will record details of all the dances that take place, and will be available for observers to record their reflections in.


An exhibitionist step into experimental contemporary dance, Chance will be a choreographic collaboration between Maria Dabrowska and Alex Leonhartsberger. 

With a total of 40 hours to create this show we are taking a chance!

The emphasis is on the creation of experimental dance and low production costs.  As an audience member you will be invited into The Arts Centre, where two characters will take you on a choreographic and slightly nonsensical journey.

This is a highly minimalist show, you’ll be lucky if there is any music.  Bare bones and basic, the atmosphere is created solely by the interactions of these two imaginative performers – the aim – to challenge each other to create the wackiest creative venture and then to transfer it to art.  This will be an opportunity for outlandish  experience expressed through well integrated choreography.

Maria Dabrowska has recently choreographed and performed in INK at BATS theatre in Wellington and at TAPAC in Auckland, INK received critical acclaim and will tour to the Melbourne Fringe festival in October 2007.

Alex danced in Douglas Wright’s in Black Milk, and was voted runner up dancer of the year by the New Zealand Listener.

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

3 hours / 35 mins

Delight in the streets / Silky slick movers

Review by Lyne Pringle 12th Feb 2007

In the 1960’s postmodern dance was born with happenings – improvised performances where the trappings of lavish dance were dismantled and the pedestrian was celebrated. In two events in the back room of the Wellington Arts Centre – a nurturing and pretty nice space – the spirit of those American avante gardists was chewed over, not just with the chops but with the whole soma.

Pass the Dance involved a large cast of experienced and not so experienced movers; in the spirit of the 60s all comers were welcome. The afternoon began with a quiet warm -up in the Back Room using a movement score largely informed by contact improvisation. This form, developed by Steve Paxton in the late 60’s and 70′, requires two participants to follow a contact point between them with the utmost integrity. Not really a spectator sport but this ‘ritual’ provided the focusing of group intention necessary for the performers to then launch out into Cuba Street and beyond, much to the delight of passers by and leading to all pedestrians – wittingly or not becoming involved in ‘the dance’.

One little boy with a ‘wow look at that’ expressed his amazement at the spider man antics of one dancer and a group of lads from Napier – in the city for X Air no doubt – were absolutely enthralled and wanted to know where they could learn this type of dancing to include in their b boy acts back in the Bay: "The most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen," one said.  All viewers were delighted, the commitment and obvious enjoyment of the performers brought smiles to many faces.

I left the event in Cuba Mall but they continued for another 3 hours with various offerings in Civic Square, Frank Kitts Park and Thistle Hall. Good Fringe fare!

Chance, staged in the early evening with minimal lights involved two sinuous and playful dancers Maria Dabrowska and Alex Leonhartsberger, using a combination of improvised and choreographed movement to explore the possibilities of their bodies in contact, not in contact and the relationship with a very close audience.

These two are silky slick movers, well matched and agile offered a dynamic start leading to risk, rapport and a tension for the viewer in terms of who to watch – they seemed to be enjoying playing with my eyes.

Fluid dexterity and articulation, bodies alive to the nuances of the audience – I was hushed for coughing, fondled by a blind dancer and late comers were given close inspection and razzing. Interesting and unique movement in and out of the floor – earth bound – no jumps, falling and rising. Floppy panting dog reverberations through the spine and limbs – boneless – no give this dog a bone stuff here.

There was a sound track of screams and at times a fast and furious pace, the movement rough and flung but extremely satisfying when the dancers moved into unison.  It is great to see Dabrowska met by a partner with equal dexterity and strength as a performer: she is moving beautifully with a new sense of abandonment and freedom as well as an expansion in her vocabulary. Leonhartsberger is so satisfying and delicious to watch; a gorgeous mover with a deep honesty in the choices that he makes in the moment.

This process was designed to lead to new discoveries for Dabrowska’s next work. The result was fruitful.


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