Lot 23, 23 Minnie Street, Eden Terrace, Auckland

13/02/2024 - 17/02/2024

Auckland Pride 2024

Production Details

Choreographer: Jessie McCall

A Pride Elevates work

Imagine being a fig wasp – born pregnant.
Imagine the sex of mould.
Imagine intimacies outside of the gaze of the nation state.
Imagine mothering as a botanical project that broke its banks.

A new dance work by Jessie McCall leaning into the generative glitches of queer propagation and motherhood. Made in collaboration with creative production studio RDYSTDY, and performers Sofia McIntyre, Raven Afoa-Purcell & Sasha Matsumoto.

100% of ticket proceeds from this show will be donated to Doctors Without Borders Gaza Appeal, to support vital humanitarian medical aid.
Ceasefire Now. End the Occupation. Free Palestine.

A Pride Elevates work.
Supported by Auckland Pride Festival, Creative New Zealand & Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.

13-17 February, 7pm.
Pēpi-friendly matinee Saturday 17, 12pm.
LOT23, Eden Terrace, Tāmaki Makaurau

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Performers/Collaborators: Sofia McIntyre, Raven Afoa-Purcell & Sasha Matsumoto
Digital Artists/Collaborators: RDYSTDY
Lighting: Calvin Hudson
Producer: Madison Cronin

Contemporary dance , Dance , LGBTQIA+ ,


Queer experience, queer intimacy

Review by Teianna Chenkovich 15th Feb 2024

The dancers enter the space with all the energy of a speeding comet and control of a military officer. They are present, they are ready, and they are going to blow our minds. The Bloom explores queer ecologies and presents an idea of “the human” as less human and much more a part of nature than we perceive ourselves to be. The world they create is quite alien from our own. The black-box style space is stark white and empty, a perfect blank slate to populate with projections of a growing seedling (projection in both the metaphorical sense and a literal sense). Into this space they imagine an alternative, a biosphere where all bodies are bodies, even the botanical. 

In one scene a garden rake’s edge is gently slid up a dancer’s butt crack, in another they glide their hands up and down a large garden fork’s shaft, then later two dancers roll and slither across the floor and each other in an athletic and sensual display of partnering. These intimate images, that could have easily become crude, are playful and inoffensive explorations of the natural body. Some things are only taboo if your human, but if your more-than-human it has a much different effect. 

How clever do you have to be to build a single prop, that “acts” as a scanner, a mini fridge, a breast pump, and a lighting device? The assemblage sits on wheels and appears to the audience as one large mechanical device. In a spectacular moment, a dancer climbs temptingly on top to access the photocopier. They press different body parts onto its surface as the images appear projected into the space. Bum in the air, face in the scanner, on display- there is a profound need to be seen, to see self, to reproduce self. A motherhood of a different kind. 

A clear choice to limit the emotional performance of the characters amplifies the often “doll like” quality of the movements. In many ways, this choice adds subtlety to the emotional journey of the bodies on stage because our attention to each tiny look and gesture is heightened. It reminds me of the ambivalence of my garden, my plants almost seeming to stand still, but if you look closely and with patience, you see signs of growth, sickness, life. But by the end of the show, I find myself craving a counterpoint to the restrained approach. Including dynamic moments of emotional portrayal could provide contrast to the moments of subtlety and further support the ideas present. 

More performances should seek out alternative venues, like Lot23, because of how they push the creative boundaries and artistic conventions. It is well worth the loss of built in seating (be prepared for a cozy floor cushion or bench) and immediate parking (walking is good for us anyways)! At Lot23, the projections are able to encompass the whole of the performance space, transitioning easily between the curved surface of the floor and wall without pesky corners and the shadows they produce. Additionally, dancers take advantage of the curvature of the walls to find new and dynamic ways of moving. One dancer traces another with chalk on the floor, then they chase their way up the wall through increasingly dynamic and acrobatic shapes.

It is profound to witness a performance that calls you to look, witness, and see what is disenfranchised and devalued by our systems of power. To perform a queer experience, queer intimacy, and a queer imagining of mothering, and to do it with such nuance and grace, is impactful. Especially for those in the audience that see parts of themself reproduced in the narrative. Choreographer Jessie McCall is beyond clever. She has held this work and its content with the deepest respect, care, a helping of humor, and most importantly, playfulness.


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Slick, enticing choreography

Review by Nicole Wilkie 15th Feb 2024

The Bloom is a new contemporary dance work presented as part of the Pride Elevates programme in Auckland Pride Festival 2024, by choreographer Jessie McCall and collaborators Sofia McIntyre, Raven Afoa-Purcell, and Sasha Matsumoto. Slick, enticing choreography combined with digital artistry creates an engaging dance work that burrows into the intersection of queer propagation, motherhood, and ecology.

The venue for this work has been chosen with thoughtful purpose – a white box studio, a clean slate upon which the performance leaves its mark – literally and figuratively. In the space sits a white machine, which is soon revealed from the dancers’ interactions with it to be a copier, projector – and perhaps, a ‘baby-making’ instrument.

As the work begins, the performers play a tape that projects a sprouting plant time lapse into the space, backed by a syrupy happy track reflected in the smiling yet decidedly fixed expressions of the performers. They move as if programmed, precise in the positioning of their bodies.

A duet between Raven Afoa-Purcell and Sasha Matsumoto makes excellent use of the setting as Matsumoto rises and falls, pauses and regains momentum against the floor and the cyclorama, while Afoa-Purcell follows and traces the outline of Matsumoto’s body with chalk, the pace of the pair increasing with urgency as they make their way around the space.

Sofia McIntyre gives a stellar performance both physically and emotionally. Though McIntyre is a strong and skilled mover, I found myself particularly drawn to moments where she was embodied in her character – examples of these that stood out to me include her tenderly cradling and burping her ‘video player baby’, and using a breast pump as milk flows from her mouth. When watching McIntyre I sense that she is fully committed to the moment, and this presence makes everything she does alluring and lulls the audience further into the world of the work.

The sequences where all three dancers are engrossed in movement together are invigorating. Their floorwork is smooth, tangling yet fluid and satisfyingly cyclical; and the standing work induces a hypnotic fervor while often sustaining a soft yet strong femininity. Afoa-Purcell, McIntyre, and Matsumoto all feed into the felt sense of the macrocosm of the work via their presence in their interactions with one another, including sprinklings of humour and humanity.

The dance is frequently punctuated by skillful projections displayed in the space, sometimes on the dancers’ bodies, of flowers and plants in various states of bloom, as well as the gardening forks wielded by the dancers, shifting and metamorphising, providing metaphors to house the movement in ideas around pregnancy and birth, nurturing and motherhood, and queer sexuality.

The Bloom is a dance work that truly has me enthralled from start to finish. It is visually stunning both in terms of the physical ability of the dancers and the clever use of digital imagery to further draw us into the space the performers create. It unapologetically challenges norms around sex, reproduction, and motherhood through a queer lens, yet allows for humour and humanness in the experience to be expressed, making the show relatable to audience members.


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