Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

13/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

The Open Stage, Hagley Community College, Christchurch

27/09/2014 - 29/09/2014

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

17/10/2014 - 18/10/2014

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

16/03/2015 - 18/03/2015

Tempo Dance Festival 2014

Dunedin Fringe 2015

Hamilton Fringe 2015

The Body Festival 2014

Production Details

Hamilton Fringe 2015

Following critically acclaimed seasons at BODY Festival & Tempo Dance Festival, Tassel Me This brings the glitter and tassels to Dunedin audiences for the very first time. In this unique collaboration, Shani Dickins (Demigod / half-Human) & Jessie McCall (The Way We Fall) present a glittering dance theatre work dedicated to anyone who has clung (for dear life) to a certain special moment. Set to a shimmering original score by James Risbey (Ao Olm) & original costume design by Fraser Mildon, Tassel Me This is an accessible and captivating dance theatre event not to be missed.

“A brilliant visual masterpiece, Tassel Me This had me sitting on the edge of my seat” – Kerry Wallis, Theatreview.

“Dickins and McCall hit humour on the head” – Kerry Wallis, Theatreview “

Jessie McCall and Shani Dickins are beautifully strong and graceful dancers… Their ingeniously profound choreography is eerie and almost painfully intimate, exquisitely highlighted in their fierce duets and dynamic partner work… I highly recommend you see Tassel Me This” – Emily Napolitano, Theatreview.

13 & 14 March at 9pm

Meteor, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton — for location see Google maps

$16 full, $12 concession


TIMES MON 16 MAR 8:00PM – 9:00PM
TUE 17 MAR 8:00PM – 9:00PM
WED 18 MAR 8:00PM – 9:00PM
PRICE $14.00 – $18.00

Q. Which eight-letter lamp remains a word whilst its whisky is removed one-by-one?

A. Starting. Starting-Staring-String-Sting-Sing-Sin-In-I.

In this unique collaboration, Shani Dickins (Demigod / half-Human) & Jessie McCall (The Way We Fall) come together to dance arm-in-arm into the world of the infuriatingly transient and embarrassingly impractical spectacle.

Tassel Me This embarks on a hunt amongst the dismally decorative for a spectacular Spectassular to call ones own.

Useless therapeutic diagrams, glorified personal baggage and a plethora of tassels decorate the slippery search for a moment that fits.

James Risbey (Ao Olm) has created an original score that shimmers with playfulness and strange beauty, met by the striking lighting design of the Ruby Reihana-Wilson and spectassular costuming of Fraser Mildon.

A warm-hearted dance theatre work for anyone who has clung (for dear life) to a certain special moment.


Christchurch – The Body Festival 2014 – The Open Stage at Hagley College, 510 Hagley Avenue

Sat 27th – Mon 29th September at 7.00pm

Tickets :  $18 and $14 concessions from Dash Tickets  www.dashtickets.co.nz  or ph 0800 327 484, booking fees apply.


Auckland – Tempo 2014 – Q Theatre Loft

Friday 17 October 2014, 08:30pm – 09:30pm

Saturday 18 October 2014, 10:00pm – 11:00pm

Tickets: $16 – $26 Bookings: http://www.qtheatre.co.nz/tassel-me

Shani Dickins & Jessie McCall

Lighting: Ruby Reihana-Wilson
Sound: James Risby
Costume: Fraser Mildon

Dance , Contemporary dance , Dance-theatre ,

50 mins


Review by Sheree Bright 31st Mar 2015

Entering the theatre, one sees on centre stage a dimly lit and subtly shimmering column, a golden sequined cocoon from which a dancer slowly emerges. The lights rise, illuminating large tassels, drapery and four lampshades with 30cm fringe suspended in different locations around the stage. 

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From the lowliest of materials, something rich and strange emerges

Review by Jonathan W. Marshall 17th Mar 2015

Performer/deviser Shani Dickins impressed audiences at last year’s Dunedin Fringe with her adaptation of the unauthorised version of the Genesis myth (Demigod/Half-Human) whilst Jessie McCall produced The Way We Fall in Wellington.  Tassel Me This is a startling collaboration between the pair: part absurdist/existentialist comedy, part performance art, but also showing traces of cabaret, Dadaist pataphysics or illogic, a rough sculptural or installation like aesthetic, and other characteristics.

 In light of the recent premiere of Footnote’s Bbeals in Dunedin, one is tempted to conclude that both Eric Languet’s piece and this one lie closest to post-modernism in the gleeful sourcing of popular culture (Flashdance in Bbeals, the filmclip to 1980s synth band Berlin for Tassel Me This), as well as the so-called postdramatic aesthetic which emerged from Europe in the late 1990s, in the manner in which both works self-consciously dramatise the fraying of their own choreographic and scenic conceits. Tassel Me This constantly seems on the verge of fragmenting into a jagged series of odd skits, even as the bright, gold costumes and design offers some degree of visual continuity — though it must be said that the work of Dickins and McCall has a degree of scenographic cohessiveness over and above the radically stop-start aesthetic of Languet.

This is therefore a work wherein the inventive collisions and fusions of material makes placing it in terms of style, or even overall mood, very difficult, creating a constant sense of intrigue and surprise in the viewing.

In many ways, Tassel Me This might be considered a work based around accessories and accessorising. We begin with a barely human vision of Dickins near motionless, wrapped in a superb, glittering cape of giant gold sequins (the uncredited lighting design is to be commended).

Other excuses for performance moments are provided by a fan and glitter (a deliberate reference to the wind-swept look of singer Terri Nunn in the video for “Take My Breath Away”), gold painted Doc-Martin-esque boots (giving a sort of Tank Girl caught in a 1960s TV look), the presentation of various props and items as if in an old studio-TV advertisement or prize-display (complete with wonderful swinging 1960s lounge-pop, sourced and distorted by composer James Risby of contemporary electro-clash/distorted-dance music group Ao Olm).

The stage itself is adorned with four velvety ropes falling down, each of which is tugged in sequence to drop a scintillating, semi-transparent curtain behind which our couple pose and prepare for the next sequence. Also featured are a number of shaggy tassels and tasselled lampshades, with perpetually glowing, blue lights. Fraser Mildon’s design is, in short, a delight, and a significant part of the spectacle involves the performers animating this tacky yet somehow magical realm. The intermittent use of a glowing “APPLAUSE” sign adds an additional level of self-consciousness and estrangement.

The repeated signature dance of McCall, spot-lit and in front of the booming fan, directly references Nunn’s own movement in “Take My Breath Away” (which was the soundtrack, incidentally, to that marvel of 1980s trash culture, Top Gun). Hands flutter before her face, as the body bends low almost to caress the light and the wind (or is it the billowing beams of air and light that caress her?).

A comic interlude in which the pair tangle together to try and assist each other remove their boots draws on the sharing of weight and rolling of Contact Improvisation styles, whilst Dickins at one point casts herself vigorously horizontal and low to the floor, moving between press-up positions and a rapid spin to twist her whole body around and throw one leg out. The dance itself therefore certainly has moments to impress.

In the end though — again, much like Bbeals — this is not so much a choreographic work as a physical and dramatic installation. Each of the dance or performance moments feels like a kind of conceit, a game, or possibly a symptom of two Beckettian characters trapped on a stage which, beyond its fields of cheap gold, seems sparse and desolate. The descent of Risby’s initially referential and poppy score into an abstract electronic landscape highlights this transition.

A key recurrent sequence shows Dickins as a perpetually ill-at-ease straight woman to McCall’s bizarrely efficient therapist, the latter complete with tasselled glasses that completely obscure her vision, as McCall insists Dickins give up her latest prop, before sealing each one into a plastic bag, and tossing it aside.

Like Bbeals, Tassel Me This depicts a kind of project or challenge to grub around in the tawdry detritus of mass and popular culture, and to try and rescue something strangely wonderful and beautiful out of this. The final tableaux of Dickins and McCall remerging from behind the curtains with the tasselled lamps dangling from the nipple point of their bras, like some Surreal version of a burlesque show from the early 1950s, epitomises this. From the lowliest of materials, something rich and strange emerges — definitely a Fringe highlight.



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Golden dust takes my breath away

Review by Dr Debbie Bright 13th Mar 2015

Having been the reviewer for Shani’s work ‘Demi god/half-Human last year, I approach this performance with anticipation, intrigued to see what she and Jessie will bring this year.  I am not disappointed. This work has very different themes, images, number of dancers, length, etcetera; but it is, nevertheless, thought-provoking – dark, funny and moving. A blending of dance and theatre: sound; music; strong, fast and very competent contemporary dance; voice and some impressive (for such a small production) props and theatrical tricks.  

The (regrettably) small audience enters to a set that could be that of a theatre work, albeit absurd rather than realistic. There are hanging fringed lights (the only source of light), hanging tassels, a box turned on end and an apparently inanimate arrangement of gold disc-covered fringed fabric, hanging from a stand.  A driving instrumental, a spot light, the music changes – “Take My Breath Away” –  and the ‘stand’ of gold fabric begins to move: of course, it’s Shani! Under all that glitter and fringes, there is a person. From being completely hidden, the outlines and movement of Shani gradually become more visible, but her face remains hidden under gold fringes until the very end of this opening dance.

Again, we hear the song “Take My Breath Away. Jessie appears. She is a fashion model with strictly choreographed movements, posture and pleasant but fixed facial expression.  This is expanded on as Jessie (and later a tortured-looking Shani) stand in a floor strip of light with a huge fan blowing hair and shining droplets that look like rain – and I think: “ A photo shoot… poses….the female face and body as objects… idealization and exploitation of the young… glossy glitzy magazines…advertising…show biz…obligated to conform. And “Take My Breath Away” drives out across the sound system, becoming a prompt to the antics of catwalk moves, posing, pouting and freezing of facial expressions, becoming fragmented, interwoven with the lives of the dancers, interrupting, influencing, changing, over-ruling attempts at ‘normal’ life’. Gold fragments are everywhere; the dancers appear to wear them, eat them, and even inhale them.  Tassels are pulled and semi-opaque fabrics drop; costumes, modes, persona, faces are all changed behind them. A pair of golden boots each, discovered as a gift, enjoyed and danced in with pleasure, freedom and spontaneity, are then tarnished, tamed, abandoned by one and desperately clutched onto by the other.

The box becomes a table for an absurd counselor’s room. Bizarre counselor and client balance on chairs on either side of the box. Counselor, eyes invisible beneath fringed spectacles, pouring out two shot glasses of gold glitter, and apparently drinking her own, clip board, programmed words and actions, and hurried, trite and automatic responses to client’s need to be ‘fixed’; client says nothing. Client’s gold fabric burdens are forced into plastic bags, sealed with heat press on the box and imagined to be bubbles that the client blows away (assisted by counselor’s throw). Theatre of the absurd, nonsensical words and actions, a dark, funny, cutting parody of counseling in a plastic, appearance-dominated world.

Yes… appearances… appearances! But, even in this dance work, all is not as it appears! Even at the end, as the dancers emerge from behind hanging fabrics with tasseled lamps hung around their necks and the appearance of being topless. I wonder: “Do we now see something of the real person?” But, no! Bras that look like nippled breasts in the dim light! Even here, a projected appearance, not the real person. The real person is covered up, disguised, given a ‘front’.

But, the individual also colludes, assists in the covering and disguise of the real person and the real feelings. She may conform, or rebel and struggle to retain her own persona, with difficulty.

I continue to hear the song “Take My Breath Away”, repeating in my head as I drive home and complete my evening. My mouth and lungs continue to feel congested; they tell me that I have swallowed and inhaled the same golden dust as the dancers.  


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Glittering work proves captivating

Review by Raewyn Whyte 20th Oct 2014

Two richly developed productions from the closing weekend of Tempo 2014 leave memorable images behind them. Presented in Q Loft, both have had thorough attention given to every element they make use of, and both have charismatic performers who keep the audience attention on them at all times.

Beyond these factors, Tassel Me This and eye could not be more different from one another.

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A captivating world of glitter and tassel

Review by Kerry Wallis 18th Oct 2014

A brilliant visual masterpiece, Tassel Me This had me sitting on the edge of my seat as every design element, movement and second had me captivated in a cohesive world of glitter and tassel.

I am drawn instantly to the figure cloaked by gold sequins (brilliant costume design by Fraser Mildon) standing slightly off centre as the audience makes  their way into the theatre. When the lights rise on stage and the cloak begins to twinkle, I can only imagine a glitzy cabaret number to unfold. Instead I am transported to somewhere much more magical when James Risbey’s score plays.

80’s synth pop sensation, Berlin’s track ‘Take My Breath Away’ provides a backdrop to movement Madonna would be proud of in a very vogue style opening by Dickins, until McCall breaks the stage with 50’s-esque housewife charm and prancing movement across the stage. A cute duet unfolds as a transitional piece until an interview scene is set up with McCall wearing glasses Beyoncé would envy.

Dickins and McCall hit humour on the head as we meet their characters and both are able to improvise their way out of a tricky situation when the sealing of one ‘bubble’ doesn’t quite go to plan. This interview section is revisited twice more in the piece and serves as a gateway into the story that is unfolding while maintaining its own unique presence within the work.

Adding to the humour is a giant ‘applause’ sign, which lights up at the end of each interview and at one-point stays on longer than anticipated. In this moment, the audience awkwardly navigates continuing the clapping while wondering if it is still okay to mask the dancers’ movement. Perhaps to ask the question – are we clinging to the moments of applause in life for too long?

Lighting, impeccably designed by Ruby Reihana-Wilson, is an important part of this piece and I felt every decision was made correctly and with thorough consideration. Illuminated gold boots stomping away make for a memorable section and a highlight in terms of memorable lighting states. At one point, McCall moves effortlessly down a corridor of light and even though the movement was quite literal, she has a quality about her that makes the movement feel completely natural.

Aided by two giant fans (which completely bring the entire space alive) and handfuls of gold glitter, Dickins and McCall tassel their bodies in a polished and beautiful way. Every duet and every solo is precise and articulate with choreography to make my jaw drop. Both girls are incredibly strong dancers and performers and there is never a dull moment on stage.

A cathartic experience to watch, performed by a dynamic duo to keep your eye on! 


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Evoking our pursuit of that special something

Review by Emily Napolitano 29th Sep 2014

Tassel Me This is hauntingly poignant. Subtly complex movement and evocative music combine with powerful imagery to create a dance theatre piece that evokes our pursuit of that special something that ‘takes our breath away.’

The stage is dark, dimly lit only by low-hanging tasselled chandeliers. A glimmering figure stands centre stage, shimmering gently to the beat of jazzy music. As the house lights fade and the soft lamps wane, the gilded figure seems to glow with blinking lights. Ethereal music spills seductively across the stage, and the enigmatic story that begins to unfold washes over us in a tide of golden glitter.

Jessie McCall and Shani Dickins are beautifully strong and graceful dancers, combining clean body isolations with seemingly effortless jumps and turns. Their ingeniously profound choreography is eerie and almost painfully intimate, exquisitely highlighted in their fierce duets and dynamic partner work. Particularly unique is the inventive way they remove each other’s golden boots after a secretly joyous celebration, set to an original soundscore by James Risbey.

Returning to previous points in a widening spiral of denial and need, the dancers alternate between being forced to throw away their precious moments and then greedily tearing away the plastic that wraps them. The dramatic lighting by Amber Molloy brings Fraser Mildon’s sparkling costumes to life and allows us to see behind the long curtains as the dancers ferociously tear apart sealed bags to release their treasures. Meaningless therapy delivered by a blind and increasingly tormented analyst culminates in a heart-rendingly savage pat on the back. The powerful wind from a fan and sprays of dazzling glitter add layers of meaning to this deeply perceptive and provocative work.

Art is superbly intimate. We can bring to it only our own experiences, and see it through the lens of our individual subjective reference. I highly recommend you see Tassel Me This. It does exactly what art is supposed to do – it opens a window into our soul, and shines a light on moments we may often try to keep hidden.


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