The Kids show at Tempo is one of the ingredients that give the festival its reason for being. Sunday afternoon in a dark theatre space seems a stark contrast to the jammin’ heavin’ cultural beats of Diwali outside. However, as much as Diwali is a festival that rejoices in ‘awareness of the inner light’, The Kids Show rejoices the radiance of children dancing their hearts out.
This is fledgling dance, not all made by the kids, yet a diverse showcase of Auckland’s dance studios at work. On that note, I did some quick arithmetic and decided that the audience could have been bigger. If each of the 89 dancers I counted in the well rehearsed curtain call brought a couple of parents and a selection of supportive relations, the house would have been full.
There are 19 works on this programme, so I am going to list the groups in alphabetical order and then review the show. Not all dancers have been listed in the programme.
East AucklandPerforming Arts – Dance Unlimited
Highland Dance Company of NZ – Auckland Regional Group
NZ Academy ofHighlandand National Dancing – North shore Dancers
The Dance Studio
Wasabi Dance Crew
Pacific dance was listed but only performed in the 4pm show; I attended the 2pm one.
From circus arts, funksta hiphop, imaginative contemporary, introverted interpretive, pure classical ballet, Scottish dance and sweet jazz, the programme takes us through an eclectic mix of styles, some genre diversity, brief cultural representation, and little difference in terms of performance confidence, ability and enthusiasm. Central to the works on show are themes of grace, the dancers pleasing themselves as-well as the audience, tantalizing leggy efforts and a restored musicality. By this I mean I have watched years of contemporary dance in visible denial of the rhythms inherent in accompanying soundtracks.
Although the show as a whole would do well to have an Artistic Director, what is clearly collated as a fluid piece-to-piece programme only occasionally strays from becoming a most remarkable and memorable event. All dances are well rehearsed. I particularly liked my audience member grandson’s recognition of the song from Lady and the Tramp and the early, sensuous elegance of Emily Da in a solo titled Siamese Cat, choreographed by Melinda Palmer. The lovely moment-by-moment aerial dexterity of HighJinx aslo shifts the parameters of what to regard as dance.
On a different note is the tiny duet choreographed by Geordan Wilcox. The dancers, Lily Johns and Maya Keast from East Auckland’s Dance Unlimited mark a new generation of performance focus. Though elusive in terms of grandeur, these two dancers transcend their choreographic vocabulary and reveal the dance through a sensory involvement within their movement.
Another example of performance sophistication is featured in the abandoned style of dancing which bled through an almost militaristic structure in Day & Night, a work by Kaila Paige-Middleton-Echave. More and more outstanding moments come with each viewing of the exciting vibrancy of the Cesan Dance Studio world, and on this occasion, are beautifully matched by the exacting precision of Mt Eden Ballet Academy, the exquisite frailty of the tiny Pointy Puppies, the funny precociousness of Wasabi Dance Crew and the gorgeous footwork (and costumes) of the Scottish dance schools.
As we celebrate these new dancing bodies in performance, it is easy to see that there is something in the Kids Show that is beyond the ordinary idea of performing dance and just as easy to see collaborative minds at work. The Kids Show would be easy to dismiss as something just for the family, but with some forethought in terms of artistic development it could certainly foreshadow the birthright of a diverse and rejuvenating dance community.