Showcase 2022 UNITEC
17/11/2022 - 20/11/2022
UNITEC alumni and graduates
Showcase Artistic Director: Paul Young
Choreography: Rose Philpott, Bella Wilson, Katie Burton, Tamsyn Russell, Chrissy Kokiri, Eddie Elliott, Jake Starrs
Rehearsal Direction: Claire O’Neil
Costume Designer: Miriam Eskildsen
Lighting Designer: Filament Eleven 11
Nau mai, haere mai and welcome to SHOWCASE 2022, our annual celebration of teaching, learning and achievement in dance.
First and foremost we acknowledge the many kaiako, tauira, and kaikanikani who have enriched the dance programme contributing to a living legacy of education through movement, time, and space. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou. This programme of new work celebrates that incredible commitment education and industry building for which our vibrant program is recognised. From its inception in 1989 to its current format, Unitec Dance and our Alumni have been the heart of the dance community in Aotearoa.
We are so pleased to be back onstage where we belong after being unable to bring you a live performance in 2021 due to gathering restrictions in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. We are exceptionally proud of how we navigated 2021, and some of you may have joined our online showcase where we showed just what we are capable of even under the most challenging conditions. We are especially pleased to announce that SHOWCASE 2022 features a line-up of choreographers that are 100% Unitec alumni. This speaks to the quality of our programme and the success of our graduates.
We invite you to enjoy new works by guest choreographers Rose Philpott, Bella Wilson, Katie Burton, Tamsyn Russell, Eddie Elliott & Chrissy Kokiri. Rose and Bella are both immersed in current contemporary dance practice in Aotearoa and we are so lucky to have them work with year three and year two students. Dance faculty lecturers Katie and Tamsyn have worked with a selected group of students to make new short works which will surprise and delight. Exceptional year three student Jake Starrs has been invited to present his work Loss and Ambling in the Fool’s Paradise, images from which feature on our poster and programme cover. Eddie and Chrissy have made a huge contribution to the programme this year via their leadership of Haka Toi Aotearoa, and we are so proud present a new Haka written by them especially for and speaking to Unitec Dance.
We will borrow a quote from Eddie and Chrissy to end. This is Unitec! Our home where we have failed, cried but most importantly overcame our fears to step into the unknown. We are proud of our whakapapa, we are proud of our whānau and we are proud of who we are and what we do. On behalf of the dance team. Thank you for being on the journey with us. We hope you enjoy the show.
Paul Young (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga) Discipline Lead Contemporary Dance Performing and Screen Arts
Ko Te Wānanga o Wairaka tēnei: Choreographers: Chrissy Kokiri (Tapuika) Eddie Elliott (Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto) Cast: All year 2 & 3 students Music: Waiata & Pātere written by Eddie & Chrissy, Waiata & Pātere Translated by Rodney Whaanga, Original score by Alistair Deverick
Traces: Choreographer: Bella Wilson Cast: Year 2. Kaylah Campbell, Lara Chuo, Charlotte Collins, Tess Doorman-Smith, Peniperite KF Fakaua, Jasmin Fisher-Johnson, Lizzie MacDonald, Alya Munshi-Kurian, Natthavout Sabanhdit, Alyssa Snowsill, Hope Strom Music: Original score by Flo Wilson
Delicate Bones: Choreographer: Katie Burton Cast: Jane Smolira, Andre Busby (Te Rawara), Tara Hodge (Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Ngāti Whare), Natthavout Sabanhdit, Dan-Yel James, Eden Matthews, Kat Heaven, ‘Isope ‘Akau’ola, Grace Lewis, Alya Munshi-Kurian Music: Overand by Autechre, Gnit by Autechre edited by Josh Tilsley
Plastic Mountains: Choreographer: Tamsyn Russell Dancers: Jake Starrs, Ella Rerekura (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa), Stella Grace Seawright, Sydney Magnus, Peniperite KF Fakaua, Tess Doorman-Smith Music: Mountains made of steam by Silver Mt.Zion
Loss and Ambling in the Fool's Paradise: Choreographer: Jake Starrs Dancers: Stella Grace Seawright, Sydney Magnus, ‘Isope ‘Akau’ola, Dan-Yel James, Eden Matthews, Kat Heaven, Jane Smolira, Grace Lewis, Niamh Hogan, and Jake Starrs Music: Drained Lake by Loscil, Ctenophora by Patricia, Interludío by Lionmilk, Seca by Lucrecia Dalt, Memories of Grass by Perila. Edited by Stella Grace Seawright
Bellum: Choreographer: Rose Philpott Cast: Year 3. Andre Busby (Te Rarawa), Dan-Yel James, Kat Heaven, Imogen Mackintosh, Niamh Hogan, Grace Lewis, Jake Starrs, Stella Grace Seawright, Sydney Magnus, Gabby Terras, ‘Isope 'Akau'ola, Eden Matthews, Ella Rerekura (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tuwharetoa), Jane Smolira, Tara Hodge (Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Ngāti Whare) Music: Original score by Hannah Lynch (Ngāti Porou), mixed and mastered by Eden Mulholland (Ngāti Uepohatu)
Stage Manager: Carol Harding, Keira Howat Assistant Stage Manager: Elizabeth Cocks Technical Manager: Michael Craven Venue Technician: Calvin Hudson Operator: Rachel Marlow Venue Facility Manager: Jo Kelly Wardrobe Assistant: Lulu Qiu Marketing & Publicity: Peter Rees
Head of School (Creative Industries): Dr Vanessa Byrnes Academic Programme Manager (PASA): Michael Miller Discipline leader (Contemporary dance): Paul Young Dance Lecturers: Katie Burton, Tamsyn Russell, Claire O’Neil
Contemporary dance , Dance , Dance-theatre , Maori contemporary dance ,
Unique Contemporary Dance Works Highlight Emerging Talent
Review by Nicole Wilkie 19th Nov 2022
Unitec Dance Showcase is the annual end-of-year showcase of the contemporary dance programme at Unitec. This year’s show features a programme comprised of six unique works that are all choreographed by Unitec alumni.
The show begins with Ko Te Wānanga o Wairaka tēnei. This piece opens the show beautifully and dynamically, with year 2 and year 3 students moving together harmoniously, as Unitec whānau. The work’s composition allows the students to express their versatility, as we are treated to a Haka devised especially for Unitec, and a seamless blend of Māori and contemporary dance movement styles. The students have been guided well by choreographers Chrissy Kokiri and Eddie Elliott, as they perform the material with mana and clear cultural competence and respect. The piece opens with an electrifying tī rakau section, constantly changing shape, and creating cohesion through shared rhythms. We are delighted by a gorgeously sung waiata in the middle of the piece, and the work ends with an energising Pātere speaking to the journey the students have experienced together over their time at Unitec Dance.
I am impressed by the skill of the year 2 students in Bella Wilson’s work Traces. The dancers explore the traces that are left by our embodied experience in the world and how people and places leave a mark in our memories – and indeed, their opening movements are visualized in a dynamic pairing of slow and staccato, emanating as echoes, points in time and space, the pieces that remain. The work is visually arresting and as I am watching I feel as though I am observing a series of personal stories that shift, evolve and collide with each other – physicalised by the dancers’ creating soft, light lines as individuals, and then moving together as one, sometimes as an amorphous collection of body parts, at other times as a sophisticated system, offering images of machinery, constantly deconstructing and reconstructing. The choreography offers the year 2 students a chance to demonstrate their versatility, and show their capability to embody various movement qualities – which they do with skill, strength, and grace.
Katie Burton’s Delicate Bones opens with couples intertwined, with softness and yet at times, a sense of struggle. As the dancers begin to explore the space between one another, blocks are brought into the space and are transformed into various sculptures, reflected in the dancers’ attempts to entangle and disentangle from one another, with a sense of fragility and yet, strength in groundedness. Sections of sequential movement allow the dancers to show their ability to respond to one another and time their movements expertly for effective visual impact. The dancers partner each other with generosity, care, and trust. They move with gentleness as the work demands it, but also find opportunities to demonstrate their stamina and power.
The next piece, Plastic Mountains choreographed by Tamsyn Russell, is an exploration of our continually shifting physical environment, and how we might respond to it and navigate it together.
I am struck in particular during this work by how engaging each of the dancers are, both as individuals and as a collective – they have a clear performance presence that draws the audience into the world of the work. It is a visceral, sometimes angsty, piece of dance that demands stamina from the dancers, as they traverse the stage in various directions, engaging in staccato rhythms, framing each other, and carving landscapes within the space.
There is at times a sense of uneasy dissonance, demonstrated by the separation of a solo dancer from the group, and long pauses in action where the dancers continue to hold the audience with their mere presence.
Loss and Ambling in the Fool’s Paradise is a choreographic offering from third-year student Jake Starrs. A surreal, perhaps dystopian dream world is brought to life, juxtaposing beauty with atrocity. The dancers create striking images, framing the space, and entangling bodies together. The use of humour in this work is skilful, as it allows us moments to laugh at our humanness. I particularly appreciate the precision and control the dancers show in this piece. Every movement is articulated with specificity and intention, and it is clear that the dancers are invested in the world they have created together. I commend Jake Starrs for his maturity and creative vision, and I believe that his technical, performative, and choreographic skills will be widely valued and sought after, as he transitions into the dance industry.
Bellum is a fitting ending for the show, offered by Rose Philpott in collaboration with the graduating class of 2022. Contrasting humanness and rawness with flamboyant performance and competition, the work explores the boundaries between duelling and dancing, collaboration and conflict. The dancers express raw energy and achieve individualism, while still being precise and skilful as a cohort. They are offered opportunities to display their adaptability, flowing between different movement qualities with confidence.
The bright costumes, which begin as sports gear and slowly evolve over the piece into sequinned gowns and other various elaborate ensembles, serve to emulate a sense of joy and entertainment that the dancers embody as they perform, and the piece very much feels like a celebration of the triumphs and the overcoming of trials of the past three years for the students.
The wings are stripped away at the end of the work and we get a glimpse of the backstage, as the dancers traverse both the stage and backstage through complex pathways, finding joy within chaos. The dancers’ respect for one another shines through in their partnering and their whole-hearted commitment to the work, and as a collective. I sense that they are articulate, skilled, generous, and mature dancers that will be an asset to the contemporary dance industry in Aotearoa.
Unitec Dance Showcase 2022 offers new, unique contemporary dance work that highlights the talent of emerging dance artists. I wish to acknowledge the resilience of the third-year students, who despite disruptions from the global pandemic, have achieved so much and no doubt will go on to contribute wonderful work to the contemporary dance industry. I look forward to seeing what these dancers will go on to offer and accomplish in the future.
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