RITES - new rituals for the living

Kenneth Myers Centre, Shortland Street, Auckland

31/05/2013 - 01/06/2013

Production Details

The University of Auckland
National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries
Dance Studies
Postgraduate Performance Works

Inciting transformation, inviting journeys through thresholds; dare to be initiated into RITES. Travel down to the depths of winter but then emerge to the light of spring, experience the building as an archive for the body.

RITES is an event presenting new performance works by postgraduate dance studies students responding to the Kenneth Myers Centre as a place of ritual and encounter. Audiences are guided through different levels of the ‘body’: From the unsettled thoughts of the head to the space of potential in the belly to arrive at the feet.

Taking the riotous premier of ‘The Rite of Spring’ choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky with music by Igor Stravinksy 100 years ago in Paris as a point of departure, RITES explores contemporary rituals that mark change within our urban Pacific present.

Dates: Friday 31st May & Saturday 1st June
Time: 7pm
Place: Kenneth Myers Centre 74 Shortland Street, Auckland CBD 1001
Tickets: Entry by donation/koha 
Bookings: Advance booking is strongly advised due to restricted entry, email: sarah.knox@auckland.ac.nz

2 hours

Vagaries of Spring

Review by Jesse Quaid 02nd Jun 2013

As with any multi-work programme Rites had its highs and lows. Drawing inspiration from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, a notoriously fickle muse, the works spread from this point in a plethora of conceptual directions. Intriguing enough, given the postgraduate level of the students, but in many cases needing further development to intellectually engage their audience.

As a curated programme the night was well run with a smooth flow between places and pieces. The audience, separated into two groups, was guided around the building to a well planned timetable. The main difficulty with the wandering nature of the programme was working out what each piece was.

The processionals for one audience group were enlivened by the performers in Maeling Davids’ “Dysfunctional Dimensions”. Dressed in eye-catchingly bright wigs and leg warmers, and placed in various doors, alcoves, and one memorable bannister, Camille Pink, Kim Yong, Ebony Mercedes and Maeling Davids moved through series of angular poses while monologuing the thoughts of their chosen architectural feature. The movement, apt although not highly memorable, created strangely appealing personifications.

Later, the audience came across Kalisolaite Uhila’s “Untitled”, a dimly lit, intensely still and focused circle of drummers. Limi Manu, Sione Faletau, Loma Uhila, Lao Toetuu, Kalisolaite Uhila, Beau, Fraser Vilamu and John Vea, provided a brief encounter with another reality.

The performances began, tentatively, with Caitlin Williams’ “Before I Die…”. Chalkboards scattered across the floor held the title phrase, while dancers Kendall Jones, Rebecca McCracken and Kerry-Ann Stanton, standing in pools of light, repeatedly completed this phrase and then performed posed representations of their wishes. Extra chalkboards, implying an invitation for the audience to take part, were possibly too subtle for the beginning of the evening. From here Kerry-Ann Stanton’s gentle exploration of friendship, “That on our Lonely Path” emerged. Her tai-chi-esque movement against a projection of tombstones and Grafton Bridge created an engaging, yet not compelling, piece.

A change in tempo was provided by Pauline Hiroti’s display of hip-hop dance “Break it Rite”. Caught in a ring formed by the spectators, dancers Pauline Hiroti, Seidah Karati, Katherine Walker, Lu-Kerne Lee, Dominik Lukundo, Maria and Antonio Malchi tagged in and out. The simultaneous isolation and elevation of the person at the centre of the circle, although suggested, became swamped by the format. Despite the enthusiasm and skill of the performers, the energy as a whole was muted, possibly by the nervous anticipation of being pulled into the spotlight, combined with the oddly low volume of the accompanying music.

The audience then returned to the front stairs where Leila Morad, in “Red Shoes”, flitted across the stairs between the solid forms of three men in black before the main doors were opened to expose the end of Kimberly Young and Nicole Pereira’s “Is it Real?”. This competition in commercial attractiveness played out amidst a strange environment of TV’s and a pair of wooden pillars. Comically played it was both well performed and a smooth combination of dialogue and movement.

A carefully counted out group of audience members were conducted into a side room for the highlight of the evening, Claire O’Neil’s “You Move Me, Part 1 (Ritual of Abduction): III. The Rite Camp”. Performers Geoff Gilson, Zahra Killeen-Chance and Josh Rutter managed to simultaneously invite and compel as they guided the audience through a series of tasks, re-creating and reinventing a version of the rite’s narrative with intriguing parallels to the realities of modern life. This was an enjoyably unthreatening piece of audience participation, although the fact that the tasks were fun did not entirely alleviate the anxiety created by the desire to get things right under the pressure of a time limit; a sensation strangely enhanced by the figure of guest DJ Kristian Larsen watching from the corner.

The piece that followed, “Museum of Intimacy – Rites of Love” by Juliet Monaghan, presented a more sombre mood. Emily Campbell, Evania Vallyon and Juliet, as bride, wife and widow, were equipped with headphones which they passed to various audience members. While the movement of the women was almost caricatured, watching fellow audience members moving and reacting to the soundtracks as they interacted with the dancers was fascinating.

Downstairs in the main space the two audience groups gathered for the final series of works, starting with Emma Payne and Bre Gentry’s “Higher Me!” in which the pair, seeking approbation, performed a series of duets in front of a panel of three men. The reality TV set-up and gender divide hinted at possible development, but did not delve below the surface.

Similarly “Testimonies”, Kristie Mortimer’s work,  presented, but did not explore, the topical question of the impact of body image on women. Wearing skin tone underwear to imply nudity, her dancers, Ruby Dale, Stephanie Day, Kristie Finlay, Gracie Pilgrem, Kristin Russell and Laura Wansik, in turn delivered memories from a soapbox while the rest of the group, lit like mannequins, posed and moved through the space.

The final piece of the evening was an interesting interpretation through body percussion of the rhythms of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Sophie Williams and Nita Latu’s “Rite Something New”, although lacking consistency, achieved moments where movement and music combined in unusual and beautifully precise ways. The final image of two women dancing, surrounded by a circle of looming figures, was a direct reference to the narrative of the Rite, and provided a powerful ending before darkness descended to the plaintive sound of fading drumming.


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