Retail Therapy

Pitt St Theatre, CBD, Auckland

01/02/2023 - 03/02/2023

Production Details

Choreographed by Brandon Ross
in collaboration with movement artists Mel Duff, Georgia Foley, Sasha Matsumoto, and Dana Moore-Mudgway (Te Ātiawa, Rangitāne, Ngāi Tahu)

Announcing Retail Therapy™, a brand new contemporary dance performance coming to a store (theatre) near you!

Retail Therapy™ conjures into being the tropes, caricatures, and consequences of a consumption-fueled fever dream to create a tongue-in-cheek parody and a nightmarish portent of the perils of wanton consumerism. At times amusing, at times absurd, and at times alarming, Retail Therapy™ will lead you through the shadowy aisles of a Store™ after closing time, past the menacing mannequins and out into the back rooms, so you can find out where they hide the bodies what those Employees™ really get up to when the customers go home.

Be careful what you shop for…

FB event link:

Ticket page link:

Lighting design and operation: Paul Bennett
Photography: Jacob Reynolds
Graphic Design: Lulu Qiu

Additional contributions by Rebecca Bernard, Alex Lye, and James Sandham.
Special thanks to all others who have contributed to the development process.

Dance , Dance-theatre ,

60 mins

A satirical look at the dangers of consumerism through contemporary dance

Review by Nicole Wilkie 03rd Feb 2023

Retail Therapy is a tongue-in-cheek comedic exploration of the depths and dangers of consumerism in our modern society, expressed through of contemporary dance.

Plastic bags litter the space, and a hooded, grim reaper-type figure lurks – perhaps as a warning of the dangers of our wastefulness, before the flurry of dancers emerge and  perform as parts of an organised mechanical system, hanging bags and stacking shelves as they move through the space, each fulfilling their role towards a collaborative goal. It is visually satisfying to see this series of movements unfold in what feels like watching a human conveyor belt.

The movement artists: Mel Duff, Georgia Foley, Sasha Matsumoto, and Dana Moore-Mudgway (Te Ātiawa, Rangitāne, Ngāi Tahu) are skilled at moving between different moods and intentions, and at one moment are passionless, bored workers performing the motions, then suddenly they become feverish and invigorated, as their dramatic movements shift them through the space, which is quickly becoming a mess of plastic bags and shopping receipts for the dancers to contend with.

The use of video projection in the work is clever. The movement on stage stops and the dancers sit to watch, along with the audience, a tv advertisement for a new product. The video is humorous as it pokes fun at the way in which products are advertised to us, and at our own desires to buy into consumerism and to own things. It did feel as though the video took up a significant portion of the performance, but I suspect that this was an intentional choice to play on the fact that tv infomercials are typically extremely long and tend to repeat the same sentiments several times, and so perhaps the choreographer, Brandon Ross (in collaboration with the movement artists) wanted to incite the same kind of frustration that these advertisements do for many people. There is also the hinting of something darker occurring behind closed doors that the public is not aware of, which is referenced throughout the work in a satirical fashion.

The choreography blends technical contemporary dance movement with robotic rhythms and angular lines. There is a clear stylised form of movement that has evolved from the world of the choreography, which the dancers are committed to in all it’s quirky, techno-fuelled glory. Many of the movements are based on everyday, gestural actions which serve endow a sense of ‘humanness’ upon the work. At the same time, the dancers demonstrate skilful partnering and delicacy when the choreography calls for it, melting into one another and supporting each other into and out of the floor. One duet moves across the stage calmly while another is frantic in their action. A highlight is a movement sequence towards the end of the piece where the choreography allows the dancers to embrace the mechanical lines and straight edges of the work, then play with blending in some softer lines in the body with a feminine energy, which adds another layer of dimension to the work. This work is engaging both visually and cognitively. As I am watching, I find myself thinking about the choices I make as a consumer and their follow on effects, and what might be happening behind the scenes at big corporations that we may be unaware of. With the backdrop of flashing lights upon darkness and driving, loud music, the work feels somewhat futuristic and dystopian, and is perhaps a warning to be more conscious of our consumption habits. Lighting design and operation is by Paul Bennett. There is additional contribution from Rebecca Bernard, Alex Lye, and James Sandham.


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