Rituals of Similarity

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

01/08/2023 - 05/08/2023

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

28/02/2024 - 02/03/2024

ONEONESIX - 116 Bank Street, Whangarei

22/03/2024 - 23/03/2024

MATCHBOX season 2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Created by: Choreographers and Performers - Brittany Kohler and Natasha Kohler

Co-Presented by: Dance Plant Collective and, for its premiere, Q Theatre

Rituals of Similarity is a new contemporary dance duet by Brittany and Natasha Kohler for Dance Plant Collective, unravelling the intricate layers of twinhood.

Born 7 minutes apart, we entered this world together. Side by side, or sometimes top and tail, we are two individuals, recognised as one. Rituals of Similarity explores the fine line between warmth and friction, rivalry and unity, synchrony and idiosyncrasy. It is a pas de deux of sameness, doubles, and contrasts.

How do two identical bodies navigate each other’s physicality? Who takes up more space? How does individuality exist within identical appearance?

Witness the soft, intimate beginnings, the identical experiences, the subtle spot-the-differences. It’s time to shake off the twin tropes and be confronted with reality – we come together, from elsewhere.

Q Theatre Loft
1 – 5 Aug, 7:30pm – 8:30pm
Tickets $25 – $39 (service fees may apply)

Following Rituals of Similarity‘s Auckland premiere in 2023 within Q Theatre’s MATCHBOX programme, Dance Plant Collective is bringing the show to Wellington for NZ Fringe Festival 2024, and to Whangārei for an independent season at ONEONESIX.

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Dance Plant Collective is a contemporary dance-theatre company based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand). Our vision is to create politically challenging and transformative performance work and the roots of our practice are planted in a desire to nurture community, honour the body as a locus of understanding and uphold the interconnectedness of all things. Co-founded in late 2016, Dance Plant offers a unique collaborative practice inspired by the genius of rhizome ecosystems. We embrace both absurdity and authenticity, trusting the spontaneous cross-fertilisation of view-points to produce startling new material staged in equally surprising spaces.
Dance Plant Collective have shared award-winning, sold-out performances throughout New Zealand and Australia. We regularly offer collaborative opportunities through a community-based approach within our work.

Creative Team:
Choreographers and Performers - Brittany Kohler and Natasha Kohler
Producer - Julie Zhu
Set Designer - Talia Pua
Costume Designer - Zoë McNicholas
Lighting Designer & Op - Paul Bennett
Sound Designer - Lucien Johnson
Image Credit, Hero Photography - Jinki Cambronero

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

50 minutes

A must see

Review by Helen Balfour 29th Feb 2024

I was curious at the outset of reviewing this piece mainly as Twindom is a wonder of nature and secondly, because of the unique connections that monozygotic (identical) individuals have with each other right from conception making them exclusive. I was not disappointed by what I saw. 

Soft, gauzy white fabric hung womb-like in a semicircle, lit gently with a warm hazy feel, the dancers are placed centre stage in a hug, a could-be placenta-type life force between them. Fluttering, quickenings of movement as the babies are nourished and grow, vying for space at times, balanced or not, sharing or not, all encapsulated with a watery, fluid soundscape depicting the unborn state. 

The delicacy of touch is prevalent throughout the work, a sensitive curiosity of each other, mirror-like in form and shape, yet also uniquely individual, the Kohlers have that intimate bond that only twins share. 

Their life-journey continues with a superbly crafted seated duo, identifying through their constant interconnectedness who they are through their rhythmic fluidity, innovative lifts and balances that at times belies gravity. The vibratory bass was such an intrusion at this time, intensely distorted, I thought there was a sound glitch. 

Zoe McNicholas’s costumes worked harmoniously with the dancers highlighting the left hand, right handside placement of the twins in the womb, cleverly shown through different coloured fabric in the legs of the pants and the wound, chord-like decorative centrepiece on their torsos. 

An absolute highlight is the narrated section which was often simultaneously spoken. The timing, quick paced, innately curated, clever, intelligent, humorous, letting us into the oddities and occurrences that twins endure and have fun with. Phrases heard in the apt sound design by Lucien Johnson such as …’double, double trouble… which one are you?

Birthdays and cake make us think about the sharing nature of twins, the balances between them, the dominant one, the submissive one. A sumo type stand-off battle is shown in squares of sharp white light among other states, designed by Paul Bennett. The siblings fight, returning with intense force time and time again; ‘get off me!’

The agile, briskness and intensity of a speedy hand-clapping, patter-cake game was mesmerising.  It seems that just the twins knew the patterns, that intimate connection again, that leads into the bribery and corruption that sibling relationships usually have, in this case a funny bean bag dragging through the space. 

“Prove yourself as an individual, what makes me, me?”, the audio procedes an accomplished solo by Natasha Kohler to a pulsating ‘Tubular Bells’ inspired music. Dancing with immense energy and drive she is clearly an individual but also wholeheartedly a twin. They bind together again and dance fluidly, both dancers are technically skilled.

A sensitively choreographed, diagonally placed gestural phrase accelerating in speed brings us to the end where the work began. The twins, cushioned again with the soft structure between them, the lights delicately pulsating, both dancers again, supporting each other, their counter balances en pointe, off balance again, supporting, cushioning, guiding ensuring that each other is there, cared for, loved. 

Rituals of Similarity lets us into the world of twins and their idiosyncrasies. Brittany and Natasha Kohler and their creative associates craft a familiar yet unique representation of love, thank you for this.  A must see in the Fringe Festival.


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Artistic motivation, mentorship and marinading

Review by Felicity Molloy 04th Aug 2023

Rituals of Similarity is a slow-cooked contemporary dance duet by Brittany Kohler and Natasha Kohler for Dance Plant Collective, a Tāmaki Makaurau-based experimental collaboration of independent dancers. By collaborative, these works signify the releasing of artistic motivation, mentorship and marinading. The time and practice it takes to develop a dance relationship onstage is familiar to seasoned performers. In Rituals of Similarity this relationship is successfully enhanced by innovative duet movement and voice explanations.

The work settles around the combined and individual experience of birth twins. Spatially enclosed by the thin stage of the Loft theatre at Q and difficult sight lines, the two dancers, Natasha and Brittany share deft movement sequences, delicately intertwining, and simultaneously expressing subtle differences drawn out of personal characteristics, and character orientation. Much is made of hand movements, attachment and arrangement. A soft bean bag-like prop between them is a visual metaphor of placenta, nourishing, shared, or by extension pulling the twins apart. 

Collaborative practice explores the hierarchy of theatrical design. In a time-based project, coming into the theatre may need longer for these ‘rituals’ to be revealed and resorted. Costuming by Zoë McNicholas is pallid, flesh pink and cream pants, and a ruched strapping over white singlets. Its mirroring becomes part of the playful interweaving of bodies and flesh. The music shared by sound designer, Lucien Johnson, sometimes overpowers the stage-scape and develops a dissonance that separates us as witness to the time-based exploration from embryonic partner to the adult them-selves. The lights designed by Paul Bennett similarly overly-bare the stage in pink and red, though this could be a trend. Carving and eating a birthday cake slowly, similarly, presented an expectation of watching rather than connecting.

A verbal vignette achieves a rhythmic perceiving of how others see them. Fast and sharp in its intention, and the speedy version of a hand clapping game well-practiced since childhood, breaks out as the dancers move faster, another kind of releasing into the theatrical realm. All in all, 50 Minutes does not seem long enough to explore the depth of symbiotic identity and reveal the tensions inside and outside this kind of identification. Dance for these two versatile people seems the perfect medium. I cannot help but be curious about seeing this work, another one, or a revision of it in five years’ time.


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