Prime Cuts 2011

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

05/10/2011 - 06/10/2011

Production Details

Prime Cuts was created specifically to be a platform for new choreographic work to be presented in Tempo Dance Festival. Prime Cuts choreographers are chosen for their level of experience (5 or more years working professionally) with a focus on artists who are reaching their prime. This is the 4th year this programme has been presented at Tempo. We are flexible in response to what is offered by artists, so each year the programme has a slightly different focus as varied choreographers and performers offer work. Tempo offers the chosen Prime Cuts choreographers seed money as well as full technical support, free use of venue and other services as well as choreographic mentoring if required. This year, Tempo is proud to present four works which we are sure will stimulate interest and discussion, as they are works that reflect varied aesthetics and influences in the rambunctious area of new contemporary dance.  

Tempo offers their grateful thanks to the choreographers and dancers presenting work in this programme at Q in 2011. The closing date for 2012 Expressions of Interest for Prime Cuts is 31 October. 

Choreographed by Cat Ruka
Performed by Cat Ruka and Josh Rutter
Music by Cat Ruka and Josh Rutter 

There There (excerpt)
Choreographed by Antje Pfundtner
Performed by Francis Christeller

Brunhilde Observing Gunther, Whom She Has Tied to the Ceiling
Directed by Mia Mason, co-created and performed by Sarah Foster-Sproull and Alex Leonshartsberger
Original music composed and recorded by David Long, performed by Robert Orr and Hamish McKeich
Rigging by Scott Anderson, Uni-Rig Ltd

Tragic Best
Choreographed by Sarah Foster-Sproull
Performed by students from the New Zealand School of Dance - Thomas Bradley, Zoe Dunwoodie, Jonathan Selvaduai, Alice Macann, Rebecca Bassett-Graham, Levi Cameron, Yan Hao Du, Fleur Cameron and Carl Tolentino

Q Production Team
Production Manager – Mitchell Turei
Lighting Designer/Operators – Rochelle Houghton and Josh Bond
Stage Manager – Ruby Reihana-Wilson



Choreographers in their prime, with a touch of humour

Review by Jenny Stevenson 07th Oct 2011

There is little doubt that the selected choreographers in this programme are in their prime – and that they for the most part, make the cut – as far as delivering work that is stimulating and enervating. What gives the programme its edge, however, is that all of the choreographers have chosen to employ a degree of humour in their work – ranging from the sardonic, through to slapstick – with many variations in between.
The standout dance work is the enigmatic Brunhilde Observing Gunther, Whom She has Tied to the Ceiling, which is directed by Mia Mason and co-created by its two dancers: Sarah Foster-Sproull and Alex Leonshartsberger. Theirs is a partnership of equals. Beautiful dancers, who each have the ability to own the stage – so that when they dance together, it is dazzling. 
Their duet sees them weaving around, below and above each other using circular movements that in turn suggest yearning, entanglement or entrapment – but never quite meet the urgency of desire – leading to the inevitable conclusion, that this is why she has strung him up.
Mason’s inspiration from the 19th Century art-work of Johann Heinrich Füssli, would appear to suggest an alternative scenario however, inspired by the epic medieval poem Niebelungenlied –  in which Brunhilde is “de-flowered” by her invisible lover Siegfried, loses her strength and then submits to marrying Gunther. Whatever the message, this is seriously interesting dance that could develop into an evening-length work.
The soft released technique of Mason’s choreography creates dance that has a continuous flow of energy – so that the defined shapes are fleeting – small islands in a sea of movement.
Foster-Sproull’s own work Tragic Best, performed by nine students from the New Zealand School of Dance uses slapstick humour as its point- of-departure, before delving into some lovely ensemble work that is danced with mega-watt energy by the students. Their technique is crisp showing excellent placement and they invest themselves fully in owning their characters and delivering well-rounded performances.
Foster-Sproull has fun with the mini-scenarios created in response to the art of Camille Rose Garcia that see the dancers sling-off at each other, cavort inanely and protest their aches and pains with exaggerated cries of agony. Their delightful costumes are a multi-coloured dell ‘arte assortment that underscores the humour of the work.
Dancer Francis Christeller performs an excerpt from There There, a work choreographed for him by German artist Antje Pfundtner, last year. At times it is a work of heightened reality such as when Christeller continuously repeats the words ‘again-again” while he dances  a solo that appears to be one of self- discovery. 
At other times it involves sharing the minutiae of his life – an origami swan, a yoga mat and a pile of white stones which are cleverly manipulated to create alternative realities. There are numerous non-sequiturs such as the 100-plus tuck-jumps he does – perhaps just because he can – followed by numerous attempts to start a story. Perhaps it is the stuff of dreams – with the references to the Wizard of Oz, an obvious clue. Christeller is however, compelling in performance and shows a fluid, yet precise style in the dance sections of the work.
Cat Ruka gives herself exactly 20 minutes to satirise the Treaty of Waitangi in her work NEW TREATY MILITIA – a “theatrical protest” against perceived identities in Aoteaora, which she performs with Josh Rutter. The laid-back personae of the two performers, quaffing beer, chatting with the audience and pre-occupied with how they are going to fill in the 20-minutes, is a clever device used to mask the seriousness of the intent behind the words and the actions.
It ends with Rutter apologising profusely and offering Ruka mega-bucks in compensation for his violence towards her, while she smiles a Mona Lisa smile and walks backwards on her hands and feet, her pelvis gently swaying. The Treaty as a comedy of errors, perhaps?

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