The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave

Basement Theatre Foyer, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

20/02/2024 - 24/02/2024

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

07/03/2024 - 09/03/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Creator, choreographer, and performer: Oli Mathiesen (Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi)
Choreographer and performer: Lucy Lynch (Ngāti Kahungunu)
Choreographer and performer: Sharvon Mortimer (Ngāti Porou)


Oli Mathiesen with Lucy Lynch and Sharvon Mortimer present ‘The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave’, an endurance-based dance work to the seamless techno album ‘Nocturbulous Behaviour’ by Suburban Knight. Exploring the movement vocabulary used in techno and rave culture, a contemporary nightclub between 3 bodies emerges. Relentless movement, seamless without pause, detailed down to every beat. The atmosphere and culture of a 3-day rave condensed into a high art, streamlined performance where you watch the destruction of 3 human beings commence in front of you. Indulge in the pain, the sweat; a display of pure endurance to achieve a goal. A spectacle of the human body as a victim to music, as a victim to passion, as a victim to our endless desire to achieve more. To win and win again.

The first dance at a wedding, but if the wedding was a funeral. An ode to the past 3-year marathon of losing societal morals and political structure. Our communal loss of work, time, love, sex, eating, fighting, cleaning, holidaying, sleeping, pashing, drinking, throwing up, everything, physicalised as an artifact of what we as a people have endured. And just like listening to a love song that sings to that one breakup you had, ‘The Butterfly Who Flew Into the Rave’ is an acid house remix that screams f***k you to the pandemic.

“An international sweaty hellhole and the cesspit I so desire to be trapped in for 48 hours. The likes of the Berlin and New York underground rave scene have always fascinated me. I believe another version of myself exists somewhere in a piss-covered club where I’ve chewed through my cheeks and some guy’s kids are spilled down my back. I am galvanized and roused by the rave culture and everything it encompasses.”

Auckland | Tāmaki Makaurau
Tuesday 20th February – Saturday 24th February 2024 | 8pm
Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave

Auckland Pride Festival:
Basement Theatre: 
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Wellington | Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Thursday 7th March – Saturday 9th March 2024 | 6pm
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce

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Creator, choreographer, and performer: Oli Mathiesen
Choreographer and performer: Lucy Lynch
Choreographer and performer: Sharvon Mortimer

Producer: Abbie Rogers (Kāi Tahu, Te Arawa)
Production Assistant: Lulu Qiu 邱詩露

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour 7 minutes

Marvellous simulation of a vigorous, volatile transcendent rave

Review by Sophie Sheaf-Morrison 08th Mar 2024

The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave is an immersive rave experience from the safety of my theatre seat, created by Oli Mathiesen with Lucy Lynch and Sharvon Mortimer to Suburban Knight’s eclectic album, Noctubulous Behaviour.  With its engrossing atmosphere in BATS’s Dome Theatre and the gloriously audacious synchronised movement, this is one not to miss.

A distribution of wristbands in the foyer builds anticipation before entering the world that Mathiesen tags “An international sweaty hellhole”, beginning with the three performers already grooving to the techno soundtrack.  They use this perpetual unison groove to execute a precise and diverse rave movement vocabulary; tenacious is how I would describe the performers’ engagement, ultimately captivating me in this ceaseless pulse.  I almost become desensitised to the intensity of their movement, in a trance-like state, until the trio only briefly and occasionally respite for a breather under a stunning range of lighting effects, especially from the chaotic assortment of LED light rigged above the performers.  These rests only elevate the movement that came before.  I am in awe of the endurance and execution of the performers, as well as the implementation of their set design embodying the rave around them.  

As fatigue builds, the raw emotions of the performers become visible.  The intimacy of The Dome theatre immerses me amongst the adrenaline and endorphins, mesmerised by the fervent aggression accentuated in such close proximity.  Additionally, the withering of the performers’ precise unison as they exhaust is a glorious moment to witness.  The performers understandably begin producing imperfections in the choreography.  I favour these deviations of unison as they present a transcendent display of this aggressively pure and raw human quality.  

Overall, The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave is an extraordinary dance work; a marvellous simulation of an intensely vigorous, volatile and transcendent rave.  I am left feeling violently jealous not being able to join in under the infectious and lingering techno pulse.  


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Entirely cohesive, outstanding work

Review by Tate Fountain 28th Feb 2024

It’s sweltering in the Basement bar. There’s nothing else for it—I walked too fast in my attempt not to be late and now the early arrival has me inertia-sweating at the edge of the crowd waiting to enter the theatre. It’s the final night of the season for The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave, and word of mouth has clearly spread.

It’s an odd sensation, coming to review a closing show. In a way, I feel like I’ve seen too many effusive Instagram Stories; one friend texted me earlier in the week to say this was one of the best things they’d ever seen. Not ‘shows’, mind—‘things’, ‘ever’. So I have that on my mind, in approaching the work: to do my best to come to it without pre-empting anything. With that said, though, there is the fact of The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave’s marketing. Splashed seemingly everywhere the past month, at least, with a quality of distinct creative direction that rivals any campaign I’ve seen this past year, regardless of product or budget. Perhaps it’s less a matter of remaining beyond influence, and more of seeing whether the show itself can deliver on this crisp expression of vision. Anyway, I’m sweating in the Basement bar.

As we wait for doors to open, I’m approached and asked whether I’m here for the rave. I am. I flash my ticket and receive a yellow wristband, labelled with the name of the show, the major credit lines, and a QR code that links to a digital show programme. Said show programme, again, presents a high-quality, cohesive artistic intention—I want to call it editorial, because that’s how it reads. And just as things are getting too hot, and too crowded, just as it’s getting almost too difficult to shuffle back and forth in the bar, the doors to the theatre open. (Kudos to Basement bar manager Adam, who nails the tone of the bespoke entry spiel.)

When I step into the theatre, the heat outside is thrown into sharp, almost causal relief. It’s freezing. I’ve noticed a change in temperature on previous visits to Basement, usually chalked up to the smaller space, or the open windows and doors in the bar, or one’s general proximity to a fan, but this is unique. The aircon is cranking.

The seating block has been reversed. There’s always the opportunity for a shift in these spaces, whether a company will go end-on, traverse, cabaret-style tables—but usually the audience is walking into, and through, the stage. In this instance, we enter and are faced with rows of tiered seating, and expertly-placed panels of lights. These are predominantly zigzagged across the ceiling, with a couple of standalone verticals in the corners of the stage, and a stack of other tricks not apparent until later: crawling blues; pulsing yellow-greens; full acidic washes; strobes (which, of course, are comprehensively signposted ahead of the show beginning). For all the dexterity of the performers—and, far out, is there that; that and endurance in spades—the same must be said for the operator(s), and for the two artists credited with lighting (the programme lists lighting design by Jazmin Whittall, and live lighting design by Jacobus Engelbrecht of Legit Events).

When we enter the space, taking all of this in, it’s also to find our three performers already dancing. The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave creator and choreographer Oli Mathiesen is locked in with fellow choreographers Lucy Lynch and Sharvon Mortimer down the far end, the three of them layered in all the seasonally-ambiguous maximalism of the work’s chosen aesthetic. They’ll stay in this get-up for much of the performance, shedding the occasional layer (first a jacket here, then a woollen cap there, then a pair of overshorts—but keeping the trunk-like jeans). It’s a brilliantly measured production world: eclectic and yet pared back, the colours and textures married, elevated but never prone to affectation.

These three dancers are a joy to watch too; they’re strong as a trio, connected and in tune. They also offer up three distinct ‘characters’ to stay with over the course of the work: Lynch, without fail, serving face, her red hair flashing green under the lights as it flies; Mortimer deceptively relaxed, almost stoic with her cap and braid, one rare, beaming smile sneaking through; Mathiesen in remarkable control of each individual muscle and joint, head anchored, like a level. The show becomes as much an exploration of dancers as it is an exercise in endurance. There’s nothing for the body, for the tenacity of the spirit, to hide behind. No relief, only rallying. And all to the unrelenting, exhilarating soundtrack of Suburban Knight’s Nocturbulous Behavior.

The choreography excels in relation to this soundtrack, and crucially in relation to the conceit of the show. There are one or two minor water/layer-shedding breaks factored in, in which the dancers remain (as I’m sure they’d have to, energetically) in motion, but there is also a consideration of pace I find necessarily intelligent: how do you survive, and conquer, a work like this? Of course you factor your momentum into it. You make the challenge just that, a challenge, but you also set it up to work for you. It keeps the audience invested, too, letting new styles of movement appear with each track, taking things downtempo, then building them, explosively, back up.

The work is filled with exquisite details as these shifts flit through: lights situated within a select few red solo cups, bright amber glowing amidst a littered tablescape from which the performers otherwise take their drinks; a spectacular blacklight sequence making clever use of white disposable gloves; a best-kept-secret disco ball that appears from a trap door near the top of the show and recedes again, unacknowledged and only visible from the rows further back (shout out to production advisor and stage manager Lulu Qiu for this one). Of course a work like this has to be choreographed down to the millisecond, down to the stretch of time between beats, to the breath—but it’s beautiful to see so adroitly utilised all the same. There are moments that the soundtrack, choreography, and lighting come together in sharp snaps, every sense giving way to a pay-off of propulsion. It’s slick; it’s considered. It’s a feat of artistry and athleticism. It’s genuinely, singularly exciting.

The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave is a masterclass in concept and execution. I wish more companies would lean into this specific, tailored promotion—it’s smart, it’s bespoke, it’s enticing; it’s a matter of taste, yes, but it’s also a clever way to save money when there can be so little to go around. There’s such strength in deciding on a strategy and an identity and sticking with it. Especially when what you’ve devised is so true to the look, lens, and life of your work.

From the marketing campaign (Matt Hurley’s poster photography; Kenzi Crompton’s styling; Raven Afoa-Purcell’s hair and make-up; with assistance by Jess Crompton and Caleb Heke; programme design by Mathiesen; and poster design by Mathiesen and Qiu) to the 55-minute endurance exercise in the theatre, The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave presents an entirely cohesive, outstanding work. It’s indicative of a realised creative vision, from Mathiesen, Lynch, and Mortimer, and from producer Abbie Rogers. Whether or not you love a nightclub, whether or not it’s your world being lifted from and riffed on, you can’t help but marvel at it. Spectacular work by Nathan Joe and Auckland Pride for programming it, and for platforming these artists. Local and international presenters would do well to follow suit. Get to it in Pōneke, 7–9 March at BATS. Seriously. A rave indeed. 


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A powerhouse in all aspects

Review by Nicole Wilkie 23rd Feb 2024

The Butterfly Who Flew Into The Rave is a non-stop rave marathon presented as part of Auckland Pride where the limit of the performers’ stamina is put to the test. Choreographed by Oli Mathiesen and performed by Mathiesen alongside Sharvon Mortimer and Lucy Lynch, the work explores the movement vocabulary of rave culture set to the hard-hitting electro dance album Nocturbulous Behaviour by Surburban Knight.

Before entering the performance space, we are adorned with bright yellow wristbands as our ticket into the rave, reminiscent of what you might expect upon arriving at a music festival or similar event. We enter and see the three performers moving rhythmically in the space, awaiting our arrival. Once the audience is seated the doors close, the lights go down, and this initial vignette blends seamlessly into the starting motions of the work.

From the moment we enter the space to the final pose, this dance piece does not stop. The resolute beat of the music pushes the dancers on, as does the enthusiastic support from the audience. There are very few moments of rest throughout the work, and while there is a dominant consistent rhythm of the music matched by the dancers in their footwork or in the sway of their hips, it is never dull, and the few pauses give a momentary respite before relenting again to the driving, determined pulse.

The underground theatre, with its slightly industrial look and black painted walls, seems a perfect locale for this rave-inspired piece. The lighting design is creative with the use of strobe, illuminating the performers from multiple points in the space, and unusual colours such as red and green that give the performance a dream-like quality at times. The dancers sometimes direct their movement to the lights, as if hypnotised by them.

The sections of the work are cleverly composed so the performers can preserve their stamina, alternating between intense, visceral energy pouring into and traversing the space, and more contained movement that offers some rest while still maintaining the ferocity of the work. Some of the more contained movements are visually satisfying as the dancers’ arms shoot out from the body and back in brisk unison, while the travelling sections allow the performers to display their impeccable technique in a series of kicks, turns, and floor work. Various movement styles are referenced in the work – at times the trio appears to be a hip-hop crew, at other times they seem like they could be members of a 90s pop band.

A particularly visually arresting image from the work is the use of white gloves against a dark space under UV lights so that the eyes are drawn to the movement of the hands. Shapes dismantle and reappear as the performers’ hands move furiously in sequence – at first in a line, then stacking together vertically to create group shapes that linger for a fleeting moment, to then morph into something else.

It is refreshing to witness the small moments of humanity interrupting the action – the performers pausing briefly for a drink of water, for example, or taking a piece of clothing off. Moments of authentic expression where the dancers let us see their physical and mental exhaustion, through facial expressions and the escape of occasional fatigued cries, help to connect the audience to the work on a mortal level.

Much of the movement shows Mathiesen, Lynch, and Mortimer in a trance-like unison with faces forward, which makes the brief moments of interpersonal connection and disruption of the unison between them feel more gratifying. The movement is evidently well rehearsed, the dancers in sync with one another as they perform unison phrases precisely, settling into repetition of a movement before it suddenly changes. There is not a lot of physical connection between dancers, but it is a welcome novelty when they do, much like when they interact with one another or briefly fall out of unison.

This work is a powerhouse in all aspects – from expertly chosen setting and lighting design, to the soundtrack, to the choreographic composition, to the three performers themselves. Everything about this dance piece leaves a lingering sense of excitement and surrender. Lynch, Mortimer, and Mathiesen are the epitome of commitment to their craft and are wholly devoted to the physical endurance challenge they undertake in this unrelenting rave-inspired piece.


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