THE DARK LIGHT
28/02/2017 - 05/03/2017
ChoreoCo by Footnote is a short-term company created especially for Fringe from the brightest young dancers.
In 2017, ChoreoCo performs The Dark Light – a brand new work from Berlin-based New Zealand artist Alexa Wilson.
Six phenomenal dancers, under the direction of a multi-disciplinary movement superstar, create a unique world where a lost species tries to remember itself. An in between place, translated to us on screen. A flicker in the shadows… it becomes a self realisation.
Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington
28 Feb – 5 Mar 2017
More theatrics than actual dance
Review by Leah MacLean 03rd Mar 2017
Hannah, wielding a clipboard, bellows the names of audience members into a microphone, including my own.
“Do you feel me?” Sophie draws diagrams on a whiteboard and reads from a personal journal, Rosie performs an extract of both jerky and fluid movements, Laura writhes on the floor and Sarah spins uncontrollably for an extraordinarily long time. There are very few moments of cohesion but when the dancers do come together we are confronted by a powerful ‘girl-gang’ all vying for the stage and their reality.
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Well-considered content with an anarchic feel
Review by Lyne Pringle 01st Mar 2017
Alexa Wilson makes thematically jam-packed, vivid shows. The Dark Light for Footnote’s ChoreoCo project offers her the opportunity to continue with this oeuvre. As the title suggests she positions herself as a dark optimist. ‘A lost species trying to remember itself; a self-realisation; a flicker in the shadows’ is the brief definition given to the watcher and indeed there is a lot of apparent floundering in the dark to find definition.
Footnote has a loyal following. The opening night is a sell out in the unforgiving, wide but not deep Circa 2. Wilson uses this space well, as she works with lithe beauties Bella Wilson, Rosie Tapihana, Hannah Tasker-Poland, Sophie Gargan, Laura Beanland-Stephens and Sarah Elsworth.
Berlin-based Wilson positions herself as a multi-disciplinary artist who explores the intersection between movement, digital content, political consciousness and humour. Her muses move, talk and act with only brief flickers of dance.
ChoreoCo is Footnote’s short term company created especially for the NZ Fringe Festival from the large number of dancers who attend the ChoreoLab professional development lab that runs for 3 weeks at the beginning of the year. It is a rich opportunity to develop skills in the choreographic space. A company of 5 performers, selected at the end of the lab, then work with a choreographer for 3 weeks to present a short season of a full-length work. This again is a rare and rich opportunity; albeit compressed in terms of creative development time. Consequently, The Dark Light reads as a sophisticated sketch; the work could tour and grow, add some meat to the intriguing skeleton and allow this fledgling company to have a life beyond this point.
The work has an anarchic feel that belies the well-considered content. Tying it all together is a superb soundtrack. It is carefully constructed with marvellous audio layers that choreograph the emotional journey of the work. A continuous roll of words on video serve as a burbling stream of consciousness that requires a split focus to catch moments of movement as well as digesting the provocative script. Glenn Ashworth brings assured light into the darkness: at one point the light is radiant on a performer bending over backwards in her quest to help us understand her dream.
Each performer brings a searching solo to the first section of the work. Questions are asked of their bodies, of the audience and of the space. The feel of this section is of insecurity, questing and searching, yet the dancers inhabit their material with utter commitment and surety. They are all powerful performers. The script poses many questions and presents oblique statements, which invite you to think while you watch. The humour is of the wry chuckle kind rather than laugh-out -loud hilarity. There is a light touch on serious matters. Wilson has a gift for drawing out the individual. By the end of the evening, we have a deeper sense of most of these women.
There are highlights: the women, topless, unleashed from constraints, singing at the top of their lungs in the dark ‘I’m your Venus, I’m your fire!’; a woman spinning and spinning, flowers in outspread hands, to gravel-voiced sage Leonard Cohen; the audience invited into the space that has been warmed by the performers’ honesty.
The narrative of searching individuals coming together in crises before finding a way forward in solidarity is conventional, but in no way is this work orthodox or conformist.
One performer wears a hat that says ‘regime’ and this work is a call to disestablishing systems of repression. It is dense, alluring, sometimes unreadable; often the message is dissipated over multiple revolutionary fronts; as if these performers are fighting for several causes all at once.
It is refreshing to be given a happy ending, replacing the apocalypse with acall for solidarity. However, we need more clarity about which movement we are joining.
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