Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

28/02/2017 - 01/03/2017

Auckland Fringe 2017

Production Details

Momentum Productions and Auckland Fringe present:


Momentum Productions are back this Fringe Festival with SYNTHESIS! After a sold-out season at last year’s Tempo Dance Festival, directors Andrew  Cesan and Kayla Paige present four newly developed works highlighting the exciting versatility of dance. Exploring different styles of music and movement, Momentum Productions show off the company members extensive technical abilities, love for musicality and rhythm and most importantly the drive to evolve and hybridise dance with other genres of movement. Culminating jazz, tap, hip-hop and contemporary with the musicality and quirkiness of “Out of the Box” and the refined technical ability of “All That”.

Momentum brings you a highly anticipated, entertaining night out with some of some of New Zealand’s best dance entertainers.

Performers: Todd Williamson, Jessica Toatoa, Tanioura Motutere, Jane Strickland, Riley Bourne, Jackson Tuarae, Josh Cesan, Paul Wilson, Leilani Demarco, Danielle Timbers, Caitlin Myocevich, Kayla Paige, Andrew Cesan, Chevy Mikaere, Lucy Peters, Shyvon Campbell.



$25 – $32


55 minutes


Accessible seating available

Content Warnings:

May contain strobe lighting & loud music

This Event is a:

  • World Premiere

Dance , Commercial dance ,

55 mins

Dance fusion with personal appeal

Review by Matthew Moore 11th Mar 2017

Following the success of their 2016 Tempo shows All That and Out Of The Box, New Zealand’s premier dance entertainment company Momentum Productions brings a new show, Synthesis, to Q Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe Festival 2017.  A high energy dance show which combines elements of tap, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and ballet, Synthesis is choreographed by Kayla Paige and Andrew Cesan, achieving a nice balance between each other’s styles and creating a unique choreographic language. The show represents each of them as individual artists and also shows what a great creative team they are together.

I had particular expectations when I bought my ticket for Synthesis, and it did not let me down. The show has a great range of dancers from many different genres and it is extremely refreshing to see these accomplished dancers on stage collaborating.

Synthesis opens with a contemporary tap number featuring Paul Wilson, Andrew Cesan, Joshua Cesan and Jackson Tuarae. The music behind the percussion is produced by Andrew and its apparent ease of movement disguises a complexity of rhythms. It is a very smart way to start the show and pulls the audience in.  

Next up is a swift and graceful jazz trio danced and choreographed by Todd Williamson. There are group routines which follow Todd’s piece and I am delighted to see how playful the jump between jazz and hip hop is over these sections.

The Momentum pre-professional dancers feature in a piece which displays outstanding power, great focus, and poise from Holly Grbich and the other dancers. Their performance definitely ignites the show and their performance is on par with the professional dancers. Their score created by Andrew Cesan matches the energy of the music with the skill and performance of the dancers, and I find myself nodding my head, enjoying their total commitment to their item.

Next is one of my favorite pieces in the show, with black costumes, an other-world focus and slick choreography, making this dance to FKA Twigs’s Papi Pacify a journey and a joy to watch from the beginning to end. Jessica Toatoa, along with the other dancers, shows a lot of finesse by perfectly executing the movement, intention and the feel Kayla’s choreography is searching for.

Next, the men return with matrix-style isolation choreography by Joshua Cesan, a high energy work which demands 110% output from the dancers, delivered on all fronts while still managing to look cruisy. This is truly a feast for the eyes and ears.

I love the costumes in Kayla’s modern contemporary/jazz work which is performed to a song by Jack Garret. I also find this piece to talk to me in many ways. I sit back and let the choreography really get in touch with my emotions.

Synthesis is a commercial dance show but I think it has many dimensions to it and a beautiful language is being spoken between the dancer/choreographers and their wider whanau. I experience an easy shift into contemporary technique and ideas which creates a deep connection between the dancers on stage. This makes it easy for me to formulate my own story about what they are doing, I I find that very satisfying.

Paul Wilson and Kayla Paige collaborate on an extremely precise piece of choreography to a song by Funkadelic. They both show very expressive qualities when it comes to embodying the guitar and living the song. Although short, it is impactful and I think it deserves a video dance, that would be perfect.

The works which follow Paul and Kayla’s piece are filled with great group choreography, taking a dive into Out Of The Box-style content, which I love it is exactly what I wanted to see at this point of the show. This is what I like about Synthesis, it has a great way of guiding the audience and nothing feels out of place, too soon or too late, so I have to commend Momentum on the overall composition.

Another highlight for me is Andrew Cesan’s choreography to Tyrone by Erykah Badu, followed by a section to No Diggity by Backstreet. I’m a fan of the 90’s/new school hip hop feel in this set and Andrew demonstrates this perfectly. Cleverly enough, the 90’s feel continues as we head into a sassy and contagious dance to Canned Heat by Jamiroquai, choreographed by Kayla.

We are then set up for the finale set to 24k Magic by Bruno Mars, and the perfect choice to end the show. It is exciting to see the full cast and everyone gives their all in this last section. Every one of the dancers is truly invested in Synthesis, and it shows.

Synthesis is a very diverse show and I think it perfectly brings fans of many genres and styles together in one room (I see this as something NZ dance needs). For me, the show is a breath of fresh air when it comes to dance fusion. Synthesis is not focused on being accessible, as such.  It’s about the choreographers expressing themselves and making what they love to make. The audience is then naturally bought into the atmosphere and completely sold on the performance, stellar cast and music choices.

I would like to see this show on the international stage next and I hope that festivals have an eye open for Synthesis because I can only imagine the content becoming more and more effective. 


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Synthesis: They don’t come for the ladies

Review by Sarah Knox 05th Mar 2017

There is a sense of anticipation and excitement in the packed full opening night audience of Synthesis, on the Rangatira stage at Q Theatre. These people, of all ages, are no doubt cult followers of Momentum Productions and of the hip hop crews performing in Synthesis tonight, such as The Bradas and ID Co. I am perplexed and slightly frustrated though, as I take my seat, at not being able to access a programme or any information about what I am about to watch. Through which lens should I view? Why has this glitzy mainstream show been created for the Auckland Fringe Festival, which usually presents grungy, experimental, and edgy theatre? How will I credit the appropriate people in this review? What if I wanted to acknowledge the work of those two gorgeous blondes in black leotards (one dancing centre back with a stunning extension, and another short dancer centre front who moves with a satisfying ease and power)?

Momentum Productions hails to be our country’s leading dance entertainment company. They have previously been seen on our stages at various corporate events, at Tempo Dance Festival (All That… 2016), and on our screens (TV3’s The Project advertisement, and X Factor), among myriad other events and film appearances. Synthesis is billed to its loyal audience as an exciting next chapter of All That..  featuring fusions of hip hop, ballet, and contemporary dance; but the key focus is the genre of jazz dance. Commercial dance typically values precision of movement, strong group work in formations and patterns, a deliberate and somewhat sassy connection with the audience, long, muscular physiques, beautiful modelesque faces, and strong grounded dancers with exceptional technical skills in a range of styles, but usually a strong foundation in ballet, jazz and hip hop. Shows feature high production values that aim to wow: professional staging, spectacular lighting, physical feats, and dazzling glitz and glamour. The focus is on high quality, accessible entertainment, showing the ‘average’ patron what they can almost certainly not achieve. We expect in Synthesis to see the highest of high kicks, perfectly straight lines of dancers, seamlessly ‘stuck’ back flips, epic pirouettes and soaring leaps; all set within the likes of snazzy, fast arms, fancy footwork, and all attitude we could wish for. The bar (or barre) is set high for Synthesis in the wake of Dance Moms, So You Think You Can Dance and the recent music videos of the likes of Justin Beber, Sia, and Beyonce. 

Synthesis ticks several of these boxes. The show is sparkly, fun, engaging, high energy, there are beautiful bodies onstage with large expressive smiles. There is a lot to like and a lot to be impressed by. Synthesis is broken up into several sections, each profiled by prerequisite costumes changes and music ranging from old school 1920’s feels to recent pop. We see gendered solo, duets, trios, and group work. The choreography is fast, complex and difficult.

But it is the men who really steal the show for me. First, driven by a cymbal beat but constantly reappearing throughout, they are understated, super suave, sexy, and they know it. The fangirls in the audience are explicitly responsive and rightly so. These men are incredibly talented, with beautiful ease in their movement. They know that performing is about an enjoyment, an authentic, flexible and responsive connection with the audience. Throughout the show, I am able to see the delicious individuality of each one. They don’t give away too much or try too hard, which is all part of the intrigue. We see that they are multifaceted beings, and their movement vocabularies echo other fantastic shows I have seen these past weeks in Fringe. There seems to be a commitment to developing/exploring/responding to movement of the 21st century. The other thing that captivates me is the genuine connection they have with each other. We are able to witness their relationships, support, and friendly one-upmanship.

 There are, though, some obvious issues in the show: the lady next to me places her hand in front of her face to block the backlight for almost the entire show. I join her in an effort to actually see the dancers and protect my already singed retinas. At moments there is a lack of stagecraft, which subdues the professional finesse of the show: costume hitches (malfunctions, holes in unitards, tags showing etc), wings are repeatedly knocked into, we can see/hear performers talking and getting changed backstage. There are awkward silences between sections. The women’s dance vocabularies (in particular the ‘contemporary dance’ sequences) seem stuck in the past and there is a competitive soloist mentality in their dancing that I find difficult to connect with. Further, I spot several dangerously and poorly executed technical movements that make me feel worried for the dancers’ long-term health and safety. 

Leaving the show I am left with questions: even if done well, and with a smile what does an hours worth of chainé turn, chassé coupé jeté mean? Dance is meant to allow us to escape the mundanity of our own lives, it should excite, astound, evoke desire, articulate alternative viewpoints, or create opportunities for empathy, understanding and expression. In many ways, Synthesis does its job. But as commercial dance oftentimes still strains to claim its place as an art form, I ponder, is it only dance for entertainment’s sake? Or, in a context such as the Auckland Fringe Festival, could the movement vocabularies of commercial dance, combined with its accessibility and wide public appeal provide opportunities to expose deeper vulnerability, promote a stronger sense of community, or of revealing the human experience in new ways?


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