Te Whaea - Basement Theatre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

28/06/2018 - 07/07/2018

Production Details


An enveloping atmosphere to explore deeper thoughts

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) Choreographic Season is a highly anticipated addition to the capital city’s arts calendar, running from 28 June – 7 July at Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre. Known for their innovative technical approach, this season the students present a compilation of eleven short works connected by a common thematic thread, a place to explore & discover “Self”.

An important objective for the students creating STOA is creative collaboration. Although the students’ creative process begins individually, this approach quickly evolves into an intensely collaborative endeavor, with each idea contributing to a greater whole. To this end choreography is by graduating NZSD contemporary dance students, and sound design is by award winning artist Te Aihe Butler, who in his fifth year, has become intrinsically linked to portraying the creative process of the students.

Exploring the boundaries of choreography is a challenging process, third year contemporary dance student Samuel Gilovitz talks of his approach, “Each rehearsal with my cast was a big learning curve generating movement with images, poetry, sensations and sound stimulus. I very quickly learnt how to communicate my ideas and concepts with clarity while creating a positive environment to achieve a productive and collaborative work space.”

NZSD students are locating their performance outside the traditional theatre environment. This year the performances will be held in the spacious lower levels of Te Whaea, the home of NZSD. Here the spatial context becomes part of the performance with the dancers guiding the audience through the space to provoke insight and intrigue.

“It’s rewarding to be working alongside and mentoring the next generation of young artists. This new production is set outside a traditional theatre realm, provoking our students to respond to unique architecture.  In this collection of thoughts, audiences can expect to experience a reflection upon nature, the choreographers’ cultural voice and societal values.” – Victoria Colombus, Director of STOA and NZSD contemporary dance tutor.

STOA will challenge and inspire – an experience not to be missed.


Choreographic Season 2018
28 June – 7 July
at Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre

Tickets available:




Season directed by Victoria Colombus
Head of Contemporary Dance Paula Steeds-Huston
Producer/ Production Mentor Glenn Ashworth
Production & Stage Manager Tommy Berridge
Assistant Stage Managers Harriett Guy, Jamie Moore
Lighting Designer/ Lighting Mentor Paula van Beek
Lighting Designer Elekis Poblete Teirney
Sound Designer Te Aihe Butler
Sound Operator Scott McCready
Costume Designer Cara Louise Waretini
Promotion Pippa Drakeford-Croad and Natasha Giera
Fundraising Elizabeth Isaacs
Venue & Box Office Priscilla Gough and Te Whaea Services
Photography Stephen A’Court

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

60 mins

Pillars and porticos

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 01st Jul 2018

The NZ School of Dance annual Choreographic Season gives an opportunity to choreograph to the third year students, soon to emerge into the dance industry. As importantly, it gives the audience a chance to develop a relationship with these talented young creative energies. As in previous years an overall thread is forged to link the works – this year eleven choreographers are named – and the performance result is unified into what is a two part/ full length work.

Wonderful dancing and seamless section transitions make it very challenging to identify the works in the first ‘white’ section. Effective ensemble work and placing of bodies in the space make a continuous and fluid layering of duets, solos and phrases as layered waves of movement cross the space. Four pillars – structurally part of the space, give cause for reflection of the whare and pou as dancers gravitate to the solid supports. The building in which they are forging relationships and building blocks for their own futures seems to exert a power in the space and at times the silent standing dancers at the sides are strong palisades protecting the pa. The concept of a meeting place or portico gives the title STOA and is well realised.

There are physical references to rejection, inclusion, caring, supporting, dismissing, including, but overall, there is an amorphous feel and surreal amoebic flow that overrides and seems to flatten communication. This is not helped by the music which reminds me of Louise Hay meditation compilation. The dancers all attempt to climb one pillar and there is a real sense of togetherness but they walk away and we are ushered to follow to a ‘black’ room now inhabited by dark dancers.

In the second half of the evening it is easier to discern difference and this is helped by clear lighting changes. A suberbly strong performance by Nadiyah Akbar as she dominates a narrow pathway of watching people forms  a memorable image that is then shattered by a duet of gender / domestic/ violence when the force of Riley Fitzgerald enters the mix. We are uncomfortably close.

The choreographic standout for me was REV, choreographed by Olivia Foley, a sassy, smart, clever sextet – shades of commedia del’arte, of cabaret, of showtime, but using rhythm and contemporary techniques and making a real connection out to us – the viewers.

In the programme there seemed a lot of anger and angst. I did not engage with the ‘why’ or rationale for all this. Such beautiful, young, promising, dancers training in one of the toughest worlds – they must have passion to be there.  I wonder how they feel as individuals? what they each really have to say?  to give?  There are glimpses of personality but they are somehow always overtaken, overpowered and subjugated by the mass energy and a will for conformity.  This was an intense sharing – life can’t be all bad??

I was engrossed by two wonderful men ( Chris Clegg and LaifaTa’ala) who created really strong tensions – racial? political? social? and dance penned in? or shut out? by a taped white box on the black floor. One of them simply pulled it up and moved on – a small triumph in a dark world!

Thank you to tutors, mentors and the dancers who continue to develop such a strength of talent and training at the New Zealand School of Dance. You are a formidable backbone for the contemporary dance world and I look forward to watching your performance and creative abilities developing in the world after school!


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