Shine Lady by Spinning Sun

Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

02/10/2011 - 02/10/2011

Middleton Grange School Performing Arts Centre, Christchurch

11/10/2011 - 12/10/2011

Tempo Dance Festival 2011

The Body Festival 2011

Production Details

Bringing to life the striking images of female divinity including the Madonna and the Hindu goddess’ Kali and Pavarti SHINE LADY traces and explores the cycles of human life. Full of strange surprises, humour and pathos this new work creates an other worldly experience which has entranced both audiences and reviewers alike. 
SHINE LADY also draws strong inspiration from nature with plate tectonics and local flora affecting the style of movement. Ann has been influenced by her parents in this area of interest. Her father is world renowned geologist John Frederick Dewey who was a major influence in developing the theory of Plate Tectonics and her mother Molly Dewey is a well regarded botanist and researcher of fungal biology at Oxford University.
SHINE LADY began its life with a movement research project, funded by Creative New Zealand, with a full time 15 week research and development workshop with dancers. The premiere season of Shine Lady in May 2011 was a great critical and box office success with sell out seasons in Leigh and Auckland. The company will next be performing at Q theatre during tempo and in Christchurch as part of the Body Festival in October.
Under the direction of Ann Dewey Spinning Sun has gained a reputation for delivering exceptional dance works that carry the hallmark of ‘joyful art,’ performance that is full of energy and a sense of humour. Recent works including the highly successful Flicker (Auckland/Leigh 2008 and New Caledonia/ NZ National Tour 2009) and Left and Right (Auckland/Leigh 2009) have reflected this exuberant style.

For more information, images and full reviews please contact Ann Dewey
or visit the website

Dancers - Liz Kirk, Julie van Renen and Liana Yew

Costumes – Ann & the dancers.
Dancers – Elizabeth Kirk, Julie van Renen and Liana Yew. Understudy –Elise Chan
Music – Bach Cello suites, Bach Two and three part inventions, PJ Harvey - meet Ze Monsta, Bandicoot - Silence is Golden, Rude Buddah - Lee & Whelan, Duba Duba - Si Hora Perapaskero Sapo, Evening Dance - Alexandrov Lubo, Del o Brishind - Lakatos, Ajde Ajde - Fato Markovic Boban
Lighting Design – Ann Dewey and David Johnson

60 mins

Gestures and images that trigger the imagination

Review by Julia McKerrow 12th Oct 2011

I am pleased to see Shine Lady programmed in The Body Festival this year and am eager to see this new work from Spinning Sun after being delighted by Flicker at The Body Festival two years ago. The positive comments and buzz from the Auckland season of Shine Lady has me intrigued. It is always a treat to have an established and accomplished dance artist such as Ann Dewey present her work in Christchurch. So I am a bit disappointed to sit amongst such a small audience of nonetheless supportive and interested festival goers on the opening night of Shine Lady.

The thoughtfully arranged pre-show music by Charlotte Rose fills this large new theatre with warm sounds of voice and electronic tones which resonate and create an atmosphere that prepares the audience for what is to follow. The stage is set with towers of ornately carved and cleverly arranged wooden boxes and chair legs. This design by Mike Petre creatively resembles miniature shrines or temples and hints at wooden religious idols, all with an element of absurdity. They are a perfect frame for this piece and Petre’s design is an ideal partnership for Ann Dewey’s unique and witty dance style.

Shine Lady is a dance in 16 parts, each of which has its own defined themes, rules, movements, narrative and music. I love Dewey’s wild use of music, which differs from some popular contemporary dance choices. Her mix of classical, rock and gypsy/world tunes adds unexpected dynamic change to the piece. At times the music strongly contrasts the movement quality and then elsewhere she layers the dancing and themes with evocative and exotic music.

This new work is laden with iconic symbolism, medieval and renaissance art motifs, and gestures from Bharata Natyam, images of humanity and history that trigger the imagination. The dancers shift, wrap and pull each other around the space inventively with large pieces of shiny fabric. They find beautiful and humorous moments to pause and highlight amongst their playful and lively exploration. They invite us into their little worlds and mirror back to us images from ours. Moments of narrative and character become apparent and reveal the inner world and imagination behind the performance. Every moment is layered with intent, movement clarity and purpose.

The three women move with a calm and confident fluidity and focus. Their expressions are bold, yet they manage to move between pathos and humour without overstating anything. Small figurine men, (Action Man?) turn up, almost insignificantly, however in a couple of effective lighting moments they create a great tacky size illusion for me, which enhances the divinity/size/omnipotence of the three females. A fleeting arrangement of some more figurine animals and men later in the piece, possibly hints at ‘creation’ as an afterthought?

There is a light-hearted and at times a comical use of multi-faith religious imagery evident throughout Shine Lady, I wonder, is this a personal response or worldview towards objects of divinity? Is all this in admiration, cynicism or purely artistic inspiration? Or an imaginative universalism, from a pluralistic perspective? The lines are blurry in our post-modern secular society.

 It’s satisfying to see Dewey’s idiosyncratic movements and dynamics shine through clearly, highlighting the integrity of the choreography and the skill and dedication of the three talented dancers whose contribution is acknowledged in the programme notes: Elizabeth Kirk, Julie van Renen and Liana Yew. Their input is evident in the ownership, clarity of intention and the focus that each displays, and each brings something a little different and special to the work, a new facet and a different angle to view the piece from.

Kirk invites humour and theatricality in her dancing and gives an assured and strong performance, comfortable and intuitive within Dewey’s movement vocabulary. Van Renen moves with mercurial speed through her intricate movements and is surprising with her dynamic control and moments of sublime lightness and suspension. Yew reveals a mastered performance focus, like lightning she transforms from the serene to the aggressive and her solo midway through the night is refreshingly expressive, fluid, quick and clear, displaying her attention to detail and versatility as a dancer. A psychedelic gypsy dance canon, some fancy footwork, indistinguishable prayers and a brief shaky, pop n lock solo are a few of the many moments I will take away from tonight.

Dewey’s work is often described as ‘quirky’ or ‘cute’ and this piece follows suit. Shine Lady is also brilliantly eccentric and displays Spinning Sun’s unique voice and Dewey’s original and unaffected style.



Make a comment

Original, engaging and beguiling contemporary dance

Review by Marianne Schultz 03rd Oct 2011

On arrival to the main auditorium, Rangatira, at Q Theatre, the pre-show setting of Spinning Sun’s Shine Lady places us in a worshipful space. The towering structures upstage recall the strange and bewildering Gaudi cathedral of Barcelona, with their elevating spindles, dense architectural construction and opaque symbolism. Likewise, choreographer Ann Dewey’s movement language confronts the audience with beautiful and perplexing images and meanings. Above all however, Shine Lady is a tour de force of original, engaging and beguiling contemporary dance.
Programme notes inform us that what began as a movement research project evolved into its present form, a full-length ‘dance in 16 parts’. With early movement explorations based on the flora and fauna of Dewey’s coastal community of Leigh, the influence of shiny cloth in regal blues and reds led to Dewey and  her three stunning dancers finding the ‘feminine aspect of the divine’ in movement. The result, through both complex and simple choreography, somehow conjures these disparate aspects of the earthly with the transcendental.
Liz Kirk’s opening gestural solo, set to a Bach piano invention, draws us into the realm of Shine Lady. Kirk’s expressive eyes and hands coupled with her groundedness and fluidity signal the start of the multiple stories told silently throughout the evening. As the work progresses we ‘read’ these gestures again and again it is as if these stories have been told countless times before, passed down through the ages by many women, conveying some firmly held beliefs both profound and whimsical. 
Kirk’s companions, Julie van Renen and Liana Yew, display amazing qualities encompassing attack, precision, softness and stillness. When Yew is draped in a blue cloth and ‘becomes’ the Madonna her adoration is justified. Van Renen’s clarity of line and fulfilment of movement is at times breathtaking. From frantic shakes, jumps and runs she settles into an iconic pose of an Indian goddess and for a brief instant we are transported to another time and place.
Yew’s vigorous solo to a Bach cello suite juxtaposes the serenity of the music with explosive choreography.  As one leg whips round to the front and ricochet’s back a spark of a jump propels her off the ground.   Another of Kirk’s slow moving gestural solos is mesmerizing.  Against the steady rhythm of a PJ Harvey song she moves downstage in liquid-like movements, with a hypnotic and absorbing gaze.  A trio in canon, though a simple device, proves to be a satisfying interlude to the slower, gestural sections due to its precision and playfulness. Dewey is indeed blessed to have three performers of this calibre able to contribute to and interpret her singular vision.
If a choreographer is a writer of movement then Dewey is the epitome of this occupation. Her ability to create a language of movement, evident in all of her previous works, has been honed to near perfection in Shine Lady. Without spoken words, multi-media, projected images or elaborate costumes, she offered a complete and satisfying experience of dance and for sixty minutes transported us out of our day-to- day existence into a world where movement communicates.  Within the hallowed walls of the theatre Shine Lady bestowed on us the gift of dance.  

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council