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

13/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

17/05/2016 - 22/05/2016

The Basement, Auckland

04/03/2017 - 04/03/2017

Auckland Fringe 2017

Production Details

2016 season at BATS: 17/19/21 May alternating with Castles 18/20 May

House of Sand ate up the 2016 NZ Fringe with two new dance/theatre works, taking out seven Fringe Award nominations and three wins including Most Promising Emerging Company.

Pedal is the company’s first work, and the prequel to multi-award winning Castles. In her first solo, emerging star of the cross-artform stage Eliza Sanders brings all her artistic skills to the table. Text, movement, her physically virtuosic dance, visual art influences and song.

“What a force she is! Compelling. Original. An emerging artist with a mature and distinct creative voice… Virtuosic, herculean, mercurial, clever and generous.” – Chris Jannides, Theatreview

“Occasionally an artist emerges who possess the thrill to surprise. Eliza Sanders is such an artist… Sanders’ work will offer a new experience in the lexicon of dance. She emerges as a refreshing new talent in contemporary Australian dance.” – Peter Wilkins, Canberra Critics Circle

Pedal charts the first part of an archetypal journey of discovery… in a completely a-typical way. Like absurd stream-of-consciousness writing, Eliza finds a-logical, illogical and semi-logical connections between ideas and memories — a hive of strangely interconnected questions and musings — from the silly to the sublime.

PLUS – Castles: The multi-award winning sequel. See absurd ending, see strange beginnings, see both. You choose. Special prices available for the double bill.

Click here for a season pass to see both Pedal and Castles for $30 full price and $25 concession!

Created and Performed by Eliza Sanders

Production Manager: Jay Hadfield

Lighting Designer: Levi Hampton

Poster Design: Anton Clever-Wilkinson

Film Promotional Material: Jacob Edmonds

Images: Stephen A’Court

Battleground Productions with the House of Sand



Aching to Pupate Regina Spector

I shouldn’t Care Edith Piaf

My Manic and I Laura Marling

Water’s Clear Here Dear Jordie Lane

I Light Joseph Tawadros

Dance , Cabaret ,

Patchwork narcissi

Review by Jesse Quaid 05th Mar 2017

A girl swaddled in patchwork fabric walks into the space. She sets down a suitcase and begins a physical mnemonic; the Catholic sign of the cross repurposed to tickets, money, passport. She hangs photos and patchwork bunting on washing lines, matches abstract movement with quirky soundbites, sings into a mirror, paints herself with ink. She unwinds her fabric wrappings, running round the stage like a child, dragging her patchwork train behind her. In the end she walks out, half nude in half darkness, still singing.

The programme notes for Pedal invite us to enter an associative state, to deal with the images and juxtapositions as they come. The artist, they say, refuses to define things, leaving that for the audience. It would seem that she prefers to dwell on the importance of irrelevant things.

Given careful consideration and well thought out construction this flow of ideas could indeed offer up opportunities for surprising readings and new contexts, and Eliza Sanders certainly has the physical capability for this type of work. Her dancing is articulate, her singing voice although lacking in range is inoffensive, and she is able to flick cleanly and easily between characters and tonalities of speech.

Pedal, however, feels more like a barrage, like the endless scrolling of Facebook or Tumblr; a constant run-on of thoughts and nonsense phrases, recycled images, and borrowed lyrics, each presented as if it was the newest truth. Literal and figurative performances of masturbation blur into a too earnest rendition of Edith Piaf’s I shouldn’t Care. I come to the conclusion that I really don’t.

The image has overtaken substance, the loss of context stripping away any sense of meaning. It could be said that this is a work that truly reflects our times.




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A solo to remember

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 18th May 2016

This is the first of two solos Eliza Sanders has developed and performs. She is a tour de force and has charisma and theatrical magic in spades. Sanders creates and performs and collaborates with Charles Sanders who produces and acts as her dramaturge. Together they define their work as ‘abstract, illogical and some would say weird’. I loved it and it is that sort of illogical that pulls one in and spits one out and leaves a changed state of awareness and recognition of self and state.

Driven by the rhythm of voice, words, song, and body, this is a personal journey and quest. Along the way shards of experiences, images, and brilliant juxtapositions take place. There is brilliant colour, tactile, provocative, and sensory with a myriad of accessible and associative glimpses of our world.

A beautiful butterfly dress of multi colour patchwork pieces is discovered via a kaleidoscope of images all emanating from her body – a shaman – a Chinese dragon – hoops – loops -Joseph’s technicolor dream coat – spin past and remind me of prayer flags and the exotic cultural dress of both Asia and Africa. Colour and private underwear unfurl along the parallel washing lines/ life lines strung above the stage and Eliza chooses to never fall into the straightforward easy option of those lines as they move to inevitable infinity.

She swoops, rolls, explodes, implodes, gestures manically but specifically in her search for her own elusive butterfly of truth. There is a physical tension all the way and she is always reined in and attuned to her fragmented but fascinating Self.

Artistically and emotionally, the work leaves us to confront our own demons and there is discomfort along the way. The doubts are ours to resolve.  Eliza is always secure in her convictions and her dance is totally integral in responding to a myriad of words, phrases and suggestions. This is a work of the me generation and borders at times on the self-indulgent, but it is true to its objective to search for the personal.

In today’s world where the issues seem so large and insuperable, it is interesting to step inside a cocoon of self for an hour, rather like shutting the bedroom door and burying oneself in grandma’s quilt.

Her dance is strong and motifs recur with strong compositional effect – vocabulary used in one context reappears or is revisited in another and dressed or undressed differently. There is an effective reliance on gestural content and repetition.  The lighting by Grace Morgan-Riddell is excellent and creates wonderful reflections on both fabric and skin. Using some of her own ‘words’ the Pedal.Peddle experience is truly “a conversation alone”, “a joke to share”, “a question to ask” ? 

Don’t miss it.   A solo to remember.


NB IN this season Pedal.Peddle alternates with Castles – see separate listing


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Liquid Poetry of Words Images and Motion

Review by Chris Jannides 14th Mar 2015

Eliza Sanders graduated last year from the New Zealand School of Dance’s contemporary dance programme. What a force she is! Compelling. Original. An emerging artist with a mature and distinct creative voice. She sings. She dances. She writes. Delivers poetic dialogue at a pace and level of clarity and confidence equal to any trained actor. Has a pliant body that is technically superb. Choreographs movement that is intricately tied to its narrative without ever seeming superfluous or gratuitous. Switches from insane eccentricity to intense poignancy as quickly as turning a light on and off. And possesses a depth and range of imagination in this hour long solo that is never short of content, variety and surprise. Virtuosic, herculean, mercurial, clever and generous. Well deserving of the standing ovation given her by an audience mostly made up of peers, tutors and other close friends and colleagues watching the debut of a new and important creative talent in our dance and performance landscape.

What Eliza masters and showcases in Pedal.Peddle is an ability to morph words, images, ideas and movement in an accumulating stream of consciousness that winds its way through a journey of displacement, rejection, anxiety and reflection without ever losing its way. This is a superb piece of crafting.

The work is intimate. A person alone. There are common motifs, common that is to theatrical environments I’ve seen before. A suitcase. Clotheslines. The latter are strung up across the space and get strips of multi-coloured material hung on them alongside images and postcards. Are these memories? Snapshots of the past? One line gets an assorted array of brassieres attached to it to the accompaniment of ‘ha ha’s’ and ‘he he’s’. We all laugh with her. Comedy is a strong element throughout. It counterpoints the personal element perfectly. Yet doesn’t in any way undermine or diminish the intensity or sobriety of other moments.

There are highlights galore that attach easily on the clothesline of our own memories. A totally bizarre plucked chicken that she makes by crawling into stretch material that then waddles and rolls in hysterical plump clumsiness while talking to us about… Well I was too distracted by the image to remember what she was talking to us about! It was a cross between the freaky chickens in David Lynch’s Eraserhead and a heavily distorted moa-emu cross from some kind of Pixar animation.

Birds are a recurring motif. As well as butterflies. Flight. Fleet. Aircraft. Leaving. A glorious moment where she flies around the space with her colourful patchwork costume billowing and streaming out behind her. A long bridal train that she is both fleeing and seeking. A butterfly emblazoned.

This is a bits and pieces woman. Spurned by a lover. Falling apart. A lone mirror on the ground doubles as water and a place for self-examination. Narcissus-like, questions are raised about the coldness and cruelty of love. Desire unrequited. We hear: ‘No matter how hot she gets, she has a hard time melting ice’.

The costume, originally wrapped around her like a cocoon out of which she unravels, is in the end discarded leaving her naked – well almost. There is the humorous image here of a topless woman in black underwear beneath a canopy of coloured bras, all of which she ignores. Preferring instead to cut and slash herself with a paintbrush and black paint. Scarring and smearing her body. She puts the paintbrush between her teeth and paints movement on her body with her mouth. A perfect visual metaphor for the poetic speech that has been issuing from it previously.

There is lovely pathos in this work. From the remotest clothesline a small paper butterfly is removed and held above the mirror-lake, now painted black. The butterfly is dropped into the water that is ‘clear’, but not. She exits through the audience singing and battered, but with a resigned sense of triumph.

What I value in this performance is the successful mixing of surreal and absurd images with very literal content about a human situation of loneliness and growth. Art tackles anxiety and confusion in a full-bodied performance onslaught that leaves no element disentangled from the rest. The cleverness here is impressive and stimulating. Songs by Edith Piaf and others – with titles such as: ‘Aching to Pupate’, ‘I Shouldn’t Care’, ‘My Manic and I’ – are sung without musical accompaniment. Eliza’s is a confident plaintive voice that slices though the space with the same clarity as her equally as expressive choreography. Choreography that is spiralling, intricate, reaching, anxious, throbbing, elastic, open, awkward, lyrical, torn, uncoordinated, analytical, dynamic.

This work is about a kinetics and a poetics of performance that should be responded to with other poetry. Here is mine, stripped from the notes I took in the dark:

“coming up next we have…”  
Like a smiling pretender  
Finding self  
Finding face  
She sings about ‘him’  
Morning is mocking me  
Shock of soft female flesh openly lit and exposed downstage  
She is stabbed by softness  
No need to fear the water is clear here dear.  

Don’t be impatient to see Eliza’s work, because I am certain there is a lot more of it to come. I am certainly hoping this.

Actually, change that. Be impatient. I’d love you to check for yourself the richness of this artist’s work.


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