Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland

13/11/2014 - 16/11/2014

Production Details

RERE TAKIWA (running between, launching place, flight mode)

The title of the Unitec Dance choreographic showcase this year, Rere Takiwa, invokes a constellation of references that are not only appropriate for this diverse programme of dance works, but for the pedagogical approach of the Unitec Dance programme as a space for training in dance. With connotations of movement both towards the sky and the earth, but also the tensional space between, Rere Takiwa reminds us that dance only thrives in the unstable elemental realm between opposites, movement and stillness, inside/outside, self and other, home and beyond, and also that the space of dance, and the place (and responsibility) of learning is always shared; most importantly between teacher and student, between one artist and another.

Dance training has frequently oscillated between an apprenticeship model, which finds it’s centre of gravity in a (sometimes authoritarian) master who imparts his or her accumulated aesthetic and somatic wisdom to docile and grateful students, and a dancer-centred model, which shifts the balance completely in the other direction, honouring the students creative independence, but sometimes neglecting the reality that all art practice takes place within pre-existing cultural traditions and social norms. Unitec Dance however, particularly over the past decade, has moved towards, even pioneered, an approach centred on the pedagogical relation, the primacy of neither teacher nor dancer, but of the relationship between the two. Learning happens best when students have an investment in their own training, and both dancers and teachers can meet in a shared ground of discovery.

Another dimension of Unitec’s relational philosophy invoked by the title of this year’s showcase is the desire to acknowledge our location in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Though Unitec Dance was founded on the basis of a European tradition of contemporary dance, and has historically included studies of Maori and Pacific dance forms, this year Unitec introduced a very popular Haka Theatre elective directed by noted Maori dance innovator Kura Te Ua. 

Our Maori and Pacific students, many of whom arrive with minimal training in contemporary dance, graduate to become valued contributors to companies such as Black Grace, Atamira, Okareka. One has only to survey the current make-up of these companies to recognise the significant contribution that Unitec Dance has made to this unique dimension of New Zealand dance culture.

This pedagogical approach premised on the primacy of the relation reflects the changing nature of choreographic practice, which is no longer centred on the pre-existent choreographic vocabulary of a particular choreographer, but emerges through the encounter and exchange between choreographer and dancers as fellow artists. The choreographers represented in this programme, from the green tipped and tender to the grizzled and grey-haired, have created their works in a much more open creative field than might have existed even a decade ago.

Dance emerges from the vulnerable and volatile space between choreographer and performers.  This relational aesthetic is reflected too in the changing nature of choreographic vocabulary. No longer oriented solely towards an admiring audience, though this still pertains, the new choreographic language is just as likely to draw upon relationships, both psychological and physical, between the dancers themselves. The galvanic space between dancers opens up new realms of possibility, leads us continually to explore in new ways what bodies can do.

To venture into this space of daring, these fields of jeopardy, is exactly what, at Unitec Dance, we do. In Rere Takiwa we thus open up this voyage of discovery for you to share. Nothing here is complete, nothing finished, everything is ‘in transit’. For our first and second year students, their journey continues, for our graduates, it has only just begun. I wish to thank the wonderful choreographers, three of whom are graduates themselves of Unitec Dance, for creating such inventive and compelling works to celebrate the energy and diversity of the dancers. I express my appreciation and admiration for their generosity and their art.

Thanks beyond measure to the teaching staff at Unitec Dance, Charene, Kim, Paul and Katie, who have stupendously partnered my faltering steps as we, in collaboration with our crafty designers and awesome technical crew, have brought this Choreographic Showcase to the stage.

Finally, I wish to congratulate the graduating students on the creativity, discipline and courage that has brought them  through an incredibly demanding three years. In an age of increasing mercantile utilitarianism, one can only wonder at the audacity of these young people who would sacrifice so much to become surfers of the cosmos. I wish them all the best as they venture forth into dance.

Michael Parmenter

When: 13-16 November 2014, 7.30pm

Where: Ray Freedman Arts Centre, cnr Silver Road/Gillies Ave, Epsom Girls Grammar, Auckland
Cost: Adults $15, Concession (unwaged/seniors/Unitec staff) $10, Students/Unitec grads $5.
Tickets at (09) 361 1000. Discounts for bookings of 4+. Booking fees may apply.
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Dancers (Year 1): Greer Anderson Duncan Armstrong Georgia Beechey-Gradwell Cuba Haslam Tui Hofmann
Anu Khapung  Brittany Kohler Natasha Kohler Terry Morrison Tamzin Naicker  Jonathan Pope Grace Pritchard 
Zilly Robinson Elliott Salisbury Michaela Schluter Rosie Tapsell Celina Torres Eikura William Jaz Yahel
Jan Rivera (not dancing)

Dancers (Year 2): Reece Adams Jonny Almario Samantha Brown Jasmin Canuel Leah Carrell Yiling Chen Sarah Collins
Lydia Connolly-Hiatt Caitlin Davey  Jasmine Donald Georgia Elson Elle Farrar Sione Fataua Emily Jenkins Regie Malonzo
Alex Mead  Benjamin Mitchell Taniora Motutere Mariafelix Fuenzalida Cushla Roughan Eric Ripley Shane Tofaeono
Rodney Tyrell  Omea Geary Madeleine Powell

Graduating Year 3 Unitec Dancers - Class of 2014
Adam Naughton Amelia Grey Briana Chapman Casey Reid Aloalii Tapu Chancy Rattanong Chelsea Baxter Christopher Ofanoa Ellen Koland Emily Doherty Gabriella Mersi Georgina Bond Kosta Bogoievski Jennifer Postles Josie Archer Karyn Robbins Joanne Hobern Monique Westerdaal Olivia Reuters Skye-Leanne Hurst Stephanie Balsom Xin Ji Bin Wang Tori Manley

 Creative Team

Artistic Director  Michael Parmenter
Guest Choreographers - Anna Bate, Claire O’Neil. Michael Parmenter, Paul Young,  Sarah Foster-Sproull
Lighting Design - Sean Curham
Sound for Claire O’Neil, Paul Young & Sarah Foster-Sproull - Andrew Foster
Costume Design  - Barbara Tee Katie McGettigan (Year 2)

Production Crew
Production Management  - Mark Ingram
Technical Management - Michael Craven, Peter Dexter
Stage Management  - Youra Hwang
Assistant Stage Management - Roydon Christensen
Lighting & Sound Operation - Jacob Parkes
Costume Assistants  - Year 1 & 2 Costume students
Technical Installation - Year 1 PDM students  
Photography- Tracy Valarie / Over The Rainbow
Poster Design  - Amber Snell

Live Performance Staff
Curriculum Leader: Dance - Charene Griggs
Dance tutors  - Kim Bergh, Paul Young, Michael Parmenter, Katie Burton
Live Performance Production Manager - Mark Ingram
Live Performance Technical/Venue Manager- Michael Craven, Peter Dexter
Performance Technology Course Coordinator - Robert Hunte
Costume Course coordinator - Erin O’Neill
Costume Sewing tutor - Shirley Fary
Marketing & Publicity Coordinator - Peter Rees
Head of Department: PASA - Alex Lee
Programme Leader: PASA - Catherine Davis

Production Credits
All the production elements for this performance have been realised by the students in the new
Production Design & Management major of the Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts.


90 mins

Impressive abilities, excellent performance standards

Review by Briar Wilson 14th Nov 2014

Again I am impressed at the level of ability of dance students, at how these young people use the entire body in sympathy with the content of a dance, its theme, its movement patterns.  More than a few of them are well on their way to being able to move an audience, not only with their physical abilities, but also by passing on an emotion.

The third year dancers in the two duets choreographed by Michael Parmenter stood out in this regard.  Each piece started without music with a central spot lit.  Between Two Fires (Part 1) was danced by Josie Archer and Adam Naughton.  It began with strong physical connections, and the guy seemed in control.  Then they moved a little more apart, but barely out of touch, while still incorporating throws, turns or lifts.  Finally the girl carried him offstage on her back!  The work is demanding and the young people nailed it.

The second piece, Two Fires (Part 2) danced by Xin Ji and Christopher Ofanoa looks less about power, and more about support or togetherness.  They start by walking round the spot holding hands as if tuned in to the same silent music, which turns out to be a song by Charpentier, Tristes Deserts (Sad wildernesses or deserts).  The movement range was generous, including lifts, with sweeping glides, and Ji and Ofanoa moved beautifully together, as if they were a couple dealing with sorrow.

Anna Bates’ the Experience Experience was a fun piece for some nineteen 1st year students about a first ever album release concert, so it featured budding or hopeful celebrity.  It required recorded cheering, mics and a bank of spotlights, that moved its glare around the stage to highlight a group (or shone onto the audience) and, of course, very importantly, a lot of posturing from the dancers.  Most were on stage throughout, so that movement was interesting and almost continuous, but it cleared for an MC to ask how we, the audience, were getting on.  Groups engaged in concert antics and finished in the traditional way by telling who was on drums etc.

The student piece came from Casey Reid – In the Dark.  She explained it as an exploration of movement, space and light.  It incorporated three easily moveable large white screens and had three dancers.  They moved, apart or together, interchanging spaces with the moveable screens, either beside or in front of one, to make interesting open and balanced shapes.  The movements were individual, and not patterned, quietly using all the body to become a graceful moving picture framed by a light screen in the background.

Claire O’Neil’s Brindd/Un Contexto Formal also featured Year 3 who came onto a darkened stage with the lit area being at first only the lower side of the auditorium.  Girls were all in high heels – to celebrate?  Perhaps yes, as Brindơ means “to drink a toast” and the second part refers to a formal event.  The group went through various configurations, and then words led them on – students supplied snippets of poetry in languages other than English – other words came from notes received from the audience.  These required improvisation but the dancers had no trouble here.  The dancers also made any strong physical requirements in the dance look easy.

All Mine, choreographed by Paul Young for Year 2 dancers had them all clad in gold – a reference to mining, meaning that all had to dig deep to contribute.  The piece was full of action, with jumps, handstands, throws, somersaults, flips, that the dancers carried out with energy and enthusiasm.  We saw short dances from couples, a line of thirteen started off a lovely modulated wave, a body was lifted up high on the hands of a group that then turned it, and it was a lot of fun for both dancers and viewers.

The next piece, Image Test 2: Liberum Spiritus, from Sarah Foster-Sproull, had a group of dancers bring on a white sheet, upright as if wooden, with a hole in the middle.  Through this hole came a bouquet of lots of hands to wave at us, and then, unbelievably, to make the shape of a face which mouthed words!  A girl took the place of the hands so that the sheet became her skirt, and Bin Wang took the stage to perform as if he was a mobile rubber band.  A couple, Tori Manley and Aloalii Tapu, performed a not particularly happy duet, as she is fobbed off to be consoled by a group while he moves off seeming lost.  Again the movements in this piece are complex, requiring full body involvement from able dancers.

Andrew Foster should also take a bow, being responsible for the big job of providing sound or music for three of the pieces, and Sean Curham, as usual, provided sympathetic lighting.

The final piece, introduced by some show-off flips and jumps, allowed all the students (almost 70 of them) to get onto stage to take their bows, acknowledging that “We know we are superstars”.  The standard of dance is indeed very high, and it may be that both the healthy numbers of students, and that standard, result from a lot more very real interest by young people in contemporary dance.


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