The Red String Duet / Minutes of Silence

The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

11/10/2012 - 14/10/2012

The Body Festival 2012

Production Details

The Red String Duet / Minutes of Silence

This double bill is a celebration of professional contemporary dance in Christchurch at its best.

The Red String Duet

This new work from Fleur de Thier follows her sold out season of ‘Tilt’ at the Christchurch Arts Festival.

‘The Red String Duet’ is a sumptuous visual work exploring the space between movement. It is dance with human connection and sensitivity, following an impulse and reacting to the unknown.

This is an intimate work with striking imagery and beautiful in its fragility, contrasted by the industrial architecture of the performance space and strength of the contemporary dancers.

‘The Red String Duet’ is emotionally evocative and follows the reputation de Their’s previous works by taking the audience on a journey.

Minutes of Silence

We are collectively remapping our city. There is a strange sense of amnesia – what was where and what did it mean to us? Architecture holds our history and our identity – so how do we commemorate our ghosts and create something future generations will remember us by?

‘Minutes of Silence’ is a bold and innovative short dance theatre work from acclaimed Christchurch choreographer Julia Milsom. The dancers construct and deconstruct a rotatinghouse of memories, ghosts and histories. It is their memorial across time.

Artists   Fleur de Thier and Julia Milsom

Venue  Court Theatre Foyer, Bernard Street

Date/Time          Thu 11th – Sun 14th Oct at 7.00pm

Duration              60 min approx

Cost       $25, $20 concession from Court Theatre of phone 0800 333 100 booking fees apply

Performers: Julia Milsom and Fleur de Thier

1 hour

Intrigue, surprise - great art, not just great dance

Review by Kate Sullivan 12th Oct 2012

To walk into a performance space and for there to be immediate intrigue and surprise is a rare treat. Minutes of Silence not only achieves this but  also succeeds in creating that spine chilling stillness and silence from the audience before the show has even begun. Visually, there is so much to indulge the eye, even without a wisp of movement.

A lone dancer stands his ground on a grand piano and stares out to space. Covering the floor is what looks like white material acting as a screen for the projector above .The steely Court Theatre foyer has morphed into an intimate performance space for the performances of Minutes of Silence and The Red String Duet. The utilization of this space is a prime example of the innovation of Cantabrians in wake of the February 2011 earthquakes, with the loss of so many of Christchurch’s precious theatres. Both of these pieces are from a strong Christchurch contingent in this year’s Body Festival with all of the choreographers, dancers and other contributors hailing from the city.

There is more stillness as trickling, clinking sounds combined with white noise further our intrigue and generate more tension. Finally the dancer, Paul Young, begins to move delicately on the piano as moving images are projected onto the floor. Young makes his way to the floor and lies on the screen with the images moving beneath him. This image is mind blowing. The projection is black and white and looks as though somebody is running with a camera at high speed through a tunnel or a rocky cavern, giving the illusion that it is actually Young flying through the space. He holds his arms out in a flying motion to complete this illusion. He then begins to gather the screen around him and it is now apparent that the screen is actually paper. This creates a new soundscape of crunching as he wraps himself in the paper using his entire body. The mood is so serious but I get a sense of euphoria, this to me looks like a great deal of fun.

We see Julia Milsom, who is the choreographer of the piece, for the first time tonight as she enters the stage and simply walks around the space in a square. Chris Reddington, one of the composers walks on stage and begins to play the grand piano rather unconventionally. Reddington hits the strings in the inside of the piano as an alternative to simply playing the keys, creating a powerful gong like resonance throughout the space. Milsom and Young join Reddington and the three continue to make sound using voice as well as the piano. Live music is a key feature of Corrupt Productions (Milsom’s company) and is cleverly crafted into the piece. The eclectic soundscape of Minutes of Silence is the genius of composers Chris Reddington and Andrew McMillan.

The piece becomes more movement-oriented as Milsom and Young move around the space. I enjoy the dynamic that evolves from the contrast in the speed of the two dancers. One moves almost erratically while the other is more subdued in their movement. The dancers tease the range between each other, moving at times centimetres apart but never actually touching. The movements themselves are unique, and comprise a tantalising vocabulary of unusual body initiations.

The piece concludes with Reddington constructing a large sculpture using a wooden frame and metal poles.

Milsom states in the program “I want you to take something away with you, I want you to reflect, I want to provoke you and I don’t want it to be too easy -nor too hard. I hope I have done my job”. She has certainly done her job. All of my expectations have been rattled, but in a good way. Milsom has created an incredible work of art, not simply just a beautiful piece of dance. The aesthetic is chillingly satisfying but could also be further developed into a longer piece.

The Red String Duet, choreographed by Fleur de Thier, begins with dancer Julia Mckerrow standing on a large box draped with red string like one of those retro beaded doorways. In the box is dancer Madeline Krenek, who is only just noticeable behind the string. Mckerrow initiates the movement in this piece, moving like a wizard on top of the box. Her movements imitate drawing long lengths of string from between her fingers and exploring the movement of the string around her body. Krenek begins to move, confined to the box but at times wrenching the string apart with her face and hands. The box is moved while Krenek is still moving, providing more angles for the audience.

De Thier’s intention is to explore human connection with a particular interest in “… the sense of community that is unique to our city at the moment”, a poignant theme for Christchurch at present. The string is integrated successfully into the piece to consolidate de Thier’s choreographic intention.

Dancer Sarah Elsworth enters the stage tangled in red string, she moves backwards drawing out the string and becoming further entwined in it. As Elsworth disappears, Mckerrow and Krenek re-enter the performance space attached to the red string, almost as if they are dragging it like a ball and chain. Just like Elsworth, they writher and struggle with the string, but they are lucky to have each other as they help one another to manoeuvre the string. Their connections are made more tangible as they begin to physically connect with each other.

The dancing progresses into a high paced duet between Mckerrow and Krenek as they lift and lower each other from the box, which is now on its side and looks like a section of a guitar neck. Each of the dancers are dressed in black chiffon which works well to make the string stand out and I wonder if it is a coincidence or a choreographic decision that all of the dancers have red hair.

The soundtrack is a diverse and impressive mix of instrumental sounds that further engage us in the piece. Sounds  range from ominous cello and violin to mere background noise, by composers Johann Johannsson , Yo Yo Ma, Hildur Gudnadottir, Opiate and Cold Cut.

Elsworth joins the other dancers who work as a trio on top of the box, moving with each-other and the string. All three move with stealth and determination as they fling themselves around the box then gently move one another.

As with Minutes of Silence, The Red String Duet has left me with new expectations and revelations about dance. As always, de Thier has created thought-provoking and refreshing movement that leaves you wanting more. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo