Short + Sweet Dance - Final/Gala Showcase

TAPAC - The Auckland Performing Arts Centre, Auckland

21/09/2014 - 21/09/2014

Short + Sweet Dance 2014

Production Details

Short+Sweet Dance presents 27 bite-size performances across the weeklong festival, with 12 chosen for the fina,  and A Gala Showcase highlighting award winners for 2014

Running from 16-21 September at The Performing Arts Centre of Auckland (TAPAC), Short+Sweet Dance features works from more than 30 different choreographers, and with each piece lasting up to 10 minutes, each night audiences see up to 14 unique dance works in 90 minutes.

Short+Sweet Dance is part of Short+Sweet Festival Auckland and follows a fortnight of theatre and a week of music performances. Festival Director Sums Selvarajan says Short+Sweet Dance is a feast of styles – including ballet, hip-hop, R&B, jazz and more – and the next performance is only ever 10 minutes away! At the end of each night, the audience votes for their favourites to go forward to the gala final.

Short+Sweet Dance Artistic Coordinator Jessie McCall says the event offers audiences a truly rewarding artistic experience.

Talents acknowledged

Review by Sue Cheesman 23rd Sep 2014

The gala for Short + Sweet 2014 featured eleven works in a smorgasbord of dance, with differing styles, genres, content,  group size and gender.  The programme was helpful to a point but it was frustrating that music was credited on only one item, coupled with the length of pieces not indicated for four numbers. The revised running order insert still had one dance that was not performed.  At the opening welcome it would have been good if someone had alerted the audience to this.  Enough and to the show!

Opaque choreographed by Vivian Aue is a stunning start to the evening. The very strong and well-crafted dance piece cleverly uses canon, unison and different tableaux. Effective use of breath and body percussion wows the house. This piece builds in intensity and provides a good opportunity for all the male performers to show off their range of physical skills in dives, rolls, leaps, jumps and turns.  The end of the work heralds a change of mood, as the male cast turns into finger clicking smooth operators dancing to a very laid back version of a Michael Jackson number.  Old fashioned romance is in the air as they sashay a woman across stage to woo her. Danced assuredly by nine male performers, this work certainly deserved its winning of Best Emerging Artist, Best Choreographer and the People’s Choice Awards.

You probably didn’t sign up for this closes the show on a somewhat strange and slightly disturbing affection for knives culminating in a performer’s face cake plant.

Numero Numero is a duet focussing on the dancers fingers adorned with chunky rings sparkling in the light.  Striking light captures strong facial images leading me to think this may have been two sides to one.

In So Euro , three dancers bedecked in crocheted colourful balaclavas with distinctive eyes holes slowly enter stage form a back corner and then the dance is ramped up with phrases of contemporary movement interrupted by thrashing around the stage. The deliberate undercutting of the technical phrases gives an absurd and ambiguous slant. The piece changes gear as the dancers set up at one mic taking turns at making incongruent statements while shedding layers of knickers. “Write it down remember it is for ever” is repeatedly said to us in the music but I could not work out the link to the piece. However this piece choreographed by Lucy Marinkovich was sharp and funny.  

Unusual and striking performance quality with back bends to die for –  Duncan Armstrong performs a solo called The Closet.  His choice and use of his considerable range of movement vocabulary, works to his advantage in conveying this message. The light catches his naked upper torso and on occasions you see the body ripple, capturing a sense of vulnerability. The sound track with the political messages dominates the dance and I find myself saying less is more.  Despite this, the content is powerful and clearly makes reference to bullying and the marginalisation of being gay.  He won an Emerging Artist and Best Backstage awards.

Rongo was one of the two cultural pieces in the show. A haka theatre piece it is powerfully performed by three dancers and one musician on stage.   The piece references the god Rongo and the traditional forms of planting and cultivating, as evidenced in movement choices with the two women more earthbound. There seems to be a slight disjunction between the more traditional kapa haka and contemporary movement, with fluent transitions needed between the two.

Maya has a strong message on the emancipation of women in India. Danced by three woman performers, this uses a variety of Indian dance gestures peppered with more abstract vocabulary to tell the story.  More consistent clarity of execution of movements is needed in this dance.

Unfurl, a duet choreographed by Camelle Pink. is powerfully performed by herself and Sophie Follet. The dancers are dressed in classy black dresses and perform side by side in separate spaces on the stage as soloists, and we are left tomake connections, which are there in the shared movement vocabulary of each solo.

Looper and Mother/Jaw are both ensemble pieces. The former sees the dancers slowly travel across the diagonal giving some credence to the programme note of good or bad it goes on.  This piece choreographed by Omea Geary won the best original concept. The latter choreographed by Jahra Rager and Grace Woollett charts the rituals of passage into young womanhood, and won Best Ensemble and the Judges Choice awards and.

Speaking Tubes is a cleverly crafted witty piece for three dancers choreographed by Elle Farrar.  The dancers enter hooded and poking at one another.  They argue and subsequent use of rolling over one another swopping places saying he’s mine is hilarious.  They cleverly return to this near the end of the piece,using all three in the roll.

The gala evening fittingly finished with a range of awards given out, acknowledging the talent and hard work of many dancers and choreographers.   As I exited into the foyer after the awards I witnessed a spontaneous eruption – a haka with Vivian and his male performers powerfully acknowledging each other.  It was very moving to see and I left on a real high note. 


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