Refinery Artspace, Nelson

18/10/2015 - 19/10/2015

Pacific Crystal Palace, Masonic Park, Tauranga

29/10/2015 - 29/10/2015

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

03/02/2016 - 14/02/2016

Hamilton Gardens, Chinoiserie Garden, Hamilton

27/02/2016 - 27/02/2016

Assembly Checkpoint (Venue 322), Edinburgh, Scotland

06/08/2016 - 29/08/2016

Athenaeum Building, The Octagon, Dunedin

05/10/2016 - 09/10/2016

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

05/10/2017 - 08/10/2017

The Famous Spiegeltent, Havelock North Domain, Havelock North

09/11/2015 - 09/11/2015

ANZAC Hall, Featherston, Wairarapa

21/10/2017 - 21/10/2017

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2016


Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Dunedin Arts Festival 2016

Tauranga Arts Festival 2015

Nelson Arts Festival 2015


Kokomai 2017

Production Details

Created by Sacha Copland

Java Dance Company

“There in the glass was the soil of a place and in that soil a soul”

We create something magic and dangerous when we tend the vines, crush the grapes, and ferment the juice.
The Wine Project – renamed In the Wine for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 – invites you into a world of flavours and aromas, of ritual and revelry: Bright berry fruit gently framed by autumnal, forest-floor notes with hints of chocolate, coffee and spice.
Recently returned from a sell-out season in Edinburgh, Java Dance Company captures audiences with dance theatre that clambers into your senses.
Sacha Copland began fermenting this new work in a French vineyard and now invites you to taste it.
“The Wine Project was not like anything I had seen before. It’s one of a kind” Southland Times, 2015
“This was one of the most captivating, original performances I have ever seen. It held tension from the first moment and used dance, rhythm, music, mime, movement and interaction with such originality and innovativeness that I was enthralled from beginning to end.” AUDIENCE FEEDBACK, FESTIVAL OF COLOUR
This production was also known as  IN THE WINE during 2015-16

Warning: This show contains full nudity.


Thu 5 & Fri 6 Oct 6.30pm
Sat 7 Oct 8.30pm
Sun 8 Oct 1.30pm
60 mins
$24.50 – 38.00*
*Booking fees apply

KOKOMAI FESTIVAL  2017 (Wairarapa)

Sat 21 Oct, 6pm (60 mins, no interval)

ANZAC Hall, Bell Street, Featherston

Performed by Emma Coppersmith, Michael Gudgeon and Sarah Gatzonis

Tristan Carter  Violin
Charley Davenport  Cello

Performance installation , Contemporary dance , Dance ,

60 mins

Bouquet charms, teases, taunts and celebrates

Review by Tania Kopytko 24th Oct 2017

The Wine Project brings the cheering audience to its feet at the conclusion of its Bacchanalian romp around the stories of wine. Like a good wine, this work has matured and developed over the three years when I first saw its “beginnings” presented in a Wellington school hall. Since then it has toured extensively in New Zealand and received rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival. The Wine Project has developed its “bouquet” from subtle fruits to strong aromatics. It charms, teases, taunts and celebrates. The narrative sections are now strongly developed and augmented by sure and interesting scene changes, signalled by music changes and the adept shifting and rolling of the trademark heavy wine barrels and light Cajón – percussion boxes – which are also played by all performers. This is dance theatre in the round and the clever and interesting changes ensure the audience sees the work from different perspectives.

The Wine Project opens boldly with Bacchanalian excesses – a naked Bacchae, nymph or bold partying woman, prances and teases (performed wonderfully by the work’s choreographer, Sacha Copland), while a suitably conservative, restrained Kent Date tries to catch her and eventually covers her up. By contrast, he is like the head waiter trying, in a dignified manner, to control the drunken clients. The juxtaposition and interaction of the characters is clever and funny, and quickly breaks down any audience shock in seeing the naked Bacchae. The audience settles in for a good tale. Enter the wonderful musician Tristan Carter in full Bacchus mode, teasing, taunting and rabble rousing. Also the violinist, Tristan slips easily from beautiful music making to intense movement and drama. Eventually the cool Kent succumbs to the romantic world of wine and we have a love story of the young wine workers, beautifully portrayed by Kent and Emma Fay Coppersmith. The audience become the wedding party and we are given lavender to throw at the bride and groom. The audience spontaneously claps and cheers at the happy couple. But love changes to vineyard rivalry and eventually a grape war, as the audience are treated to grapes firing across them and the space – great fun. There is even a hangover dance – a great duo by Sacha and Emma, which engenders knowing nods and groans from the audience. The intensity of wine itself is explored. The different scents – cinnamon, herbs – litter the stage and are trampled underfoot by the dancers. We smell the wine’s bouquet. Like a genie in the bottle, the heady wine goddess, Sacha Copland, disappears into a wine barrel and we have a brief breather from the madness. But the rhythm returns with a wonderful percussion dance section. Like elsewhere, the movement motifs reference the many different traditional cultures that make wine – a hint of Greece, Italy, France, Georgia or Chile perhaps. The music beautifully suggests this – a hint of bouzouki or mandolin, a soaring, strutting violin or sensual cello, plus the rhythmic Cajón. Charles Davenport and Tristan Carter are superb multi-instrumentalists and performers.

These performers are “in the moment”, their focus is strong and reaches into you. Like a wine, they have an effect. It is visceral. This is not contemporary dance of the intellectual abstract type, this is something that grabs you and intoxicates at all levels – sound, physicality, sculptural motion, scent and smell. It is easy to see why this work was so popular at Edinburgh and is picked up by New Zealand festivals, venues and our winemakers, who have partnered Java Dance Theatre to promote their New Zealand wines. Sacha Copland has developed a unique, bold, strong and engaging style, which invites you fully into the world of the work. And so the audience rose and cheered. Bravo Java Dance Theatre – à votre santé!



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Expanding our minds and pleasure receptors

Review by Hannah Molloy 07th Oct 2016

A lot of sensory experience packed into one short hour sums up The Wine Project for me. Java Dance Company’s show is a fun, vibrant and very engaging piece of dance-theatre.

The audience took a roller coaster ride from mild bemusement and anxiety as it became apparent that the “full nudity” disclaimer meant exactly that – some in the very full house looked apprehensive while others looked simply lascivious. I’m always a little surprised by how quickly you stop noticing nudity – it’s not an experience most have us have day-to-day in the public domain but somehow it becomes normal very quickly.

The work tells a story of Bacchus (Sarah Gatzonis) waking up feeling frisky, a village preparing for the grape harvest and celebrating new love and a marriage which is quickly soured by Bacchus and his (actually her) sidekick’s (Tristan Carter) mischievous interventions.

It took a little while for me to warm into the show but I decided that was reminiscent of any decent wine and was a clever layer. There was a strong percussive element all the way through, using slaps, clapping, cajons and the wine barrels that formed the ever moving set. Music was beautifully played by Carter on violin and Charlie Davenpoprt on cello and really developed the moods of each scene, from joyful to erotic, from distrubing to bawdy. The scents changed noticeably throughout, from spicy to earthy and back again, with a lighter floral element introduced as Bacchus distributed flowers to throw on the bride and groom (Emma Coppersmith and Michael Gudgeon). This was a particularly clever scene as the entire audience was invited to be part of the performance, by standing and cheering and applauding the happy pair. I noticed later that Bacchus used the exact same gestures to direct the audience participation as she did to control the now enslaved couple – that was a creepy realisation!

The dancing was riotous and, while the choreography was mostly fairly simple, the dancers moved with gusto and lovely timing. The vomit dance was charming (and very realistic…). There was a mood of naughtiness and joyousness all the way through and the audience, including myself, was, in the end, thoroughly delighted. We were gently and persuasively invited to partake of food and wine, to share joy and sensuality and the savagery of Bacchus’ manipulation, without being intimidated by taking part.

I personally think this is a sign of a great performance – if not for the audience’s pleasure and expansion of experience, then what is performance for? Shows like this open people up to taking a risk on other perhaps purer forms of performing arts, expanding their minds and pleasure receptors, not to mention appreciation of the skill and energy that goes into creating an art form.


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Raw, sweaty, lusty, ugly, beautiful and not to be missed

Review by Acushla-Tara Kupe 13th Aug 2016

This is the second time I have seen this show. Now retitled In the Wine, it opened the 2016 season at Circa Theatre in Wellington under the name The Wine Project. In both incarnations I see similar through lines but at times I also discover very different meanings behind the same moments. Other audience members I have talked with also have very different opinions on the story they’ve just watched.

It would be interesting to speak with the Java Dance Company to see what they intend the audience to experience and what pieces are interpreted differently. I suppose this is often the case in dialogue-free performance pieces, and that’s what I love about physical performance: as an audience member your interpretation becomes an important part of the performance. So here is my interpretation of In the Wine.

We are greeted by a nude lady asleep between large wine barrels, and a young man atop one of them, breaking and smelling cinnamon sticks. Once the audience is seated a cellist arrives on stage and sets the tone. He begins a deep melody which is swiftly broken by a gleeful violin played off stage. This brings our lady to life who then frolics around the stage unaware of her nudity until the male starts to box her in and eventually forces her into makeshift clothes.

The music is live and raw, the scent of cinnamon and other herbs hang heavy in the air and the performers are close enough for us to see the sweat on their brows. The energy in the room is palpable and this becomes much more than a dance performance; five performers take us deep into an intense sensual experience.

Over the next hour we watch the birth of civilisation, the beauty of communal society, the inevitable shift to feudalism under aristocracy, a revolution and the rebuilding of life as humans being. Well, that’s what I see anyway.

The way each of these stages of societal change is portrayed is both powerful and beautiful. We become a part of this world as we smell herbs, eat grapes and drink wine. The performers hold eye contact with us throughout the show, drawing us deeper into the story. We laugh, lament, feel despair and celebrate. This is much more than a dance piece, it’s a truly holistic experience. 

The music is all played live from the performers on stage. There are a range of string instruments and these are mixed with percussion from boxes, feet and a great use of vocal energy. The sound of the show is just as much a part of it as the physical performance. Their integration is seamless and adds energy, emotion and life to the piece.

The costuming consists of a suitable mix of nude hues, although I wish the undergarments matched. The peeking through of a black bra with a label ruins the magic a little. The set of barrels, boxes, vines and additional earthy props not only looks great but is used in creative and ingenious ways. 

The performers are all fantastic both individually and as an ensemble. Charles Davenport not only plays the cello throughout, underscoring a lot of the action, but also joins in occasionally and dances with the best of them. Sarah Gatzonis transforms beautifully from charming to sleazy to broken. She is a fantastic actor and dancer and is mesmerising to watch.

Michael Gudgeon is sweet and obliging in his role, dancing precariously on the barrels, demonstrating his incredible skill. Tristan Carter is a stand-out as the comic relief of the piece; we love him and we love to hate him. Infinitely charming, Carter performs his character with intense energy and skill and astounds with his aggressive violin playing.

Emma Coppersmith is sweet, sassy and nails her innocent come rebel character. Coppersmith uses eye contact like a weapon and masterfully uses facial expression to tell whole stories on their own. 

Huge respect is due to the creative team: composers Carter and Davenport for not only creating a wonderfully powerful score but performing it on stage with great skill; Meggan Rollandi for her design work on the set, props and costume, and Nick Zwart for helping to bring these to life.

Finally to Sacha Copland for her inspired choreography and storytelling abilities. Copland is a visionary, with Back of the Bus, Rise and Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients preceding In the Wine (The Wine Project) in the Java Dance Theatre repertoire.  

The use of wine as the vehicle to drive this story is a great decision as it holds great stories and history in its own past. Its use to celebrate, to numb, to demonstrate power, to show change and to mature are all so relevant in the telling of this story. Not only that but it makes for a great smelling show. In the Wine is an incredible performance piece. It’s raw, sweaty, lusty, ugly, beautiful and not to be missed. 


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Audience engagement a rich experience

Review by Dr Debbie Bright 29th Feb 2016

I find it an interesting experience to attend 2 performances by the same company, one for adults and the other for children and their families, all in the space of about 9 hours. Many people have written great reviews about the performances of this exciting, innovative and risk-taking company. Therefore, in this review, I focus on the similarities and contrasts between The Wine Project and Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients or Java Dance Company as it performs for adults and for children, in the context of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.  

My first impressions concern the challenges of finding the venues for these two performances. On Saturday evening it is raining and we discover through website and telephone that the performance has been moved into the Pavilion. There are no signs up at entrances to outdoor or (replacement) indoor venue but friendly Arts Festival staff direct all to the Pavilion. I find it definitely worth overcoming our venue uncertainties! On the Sunday morning, it had been raining and could yet rain again, but, at the time leading up to and including the performance, it is fine. Not having checked Facebook or website, I go first to the Chinoiserie Garden where the performance has been advertised to take place, and, finding this garden deserted, head back to the Pavilion. Across the grass, I spot the same dancers from the previous evening’s performance. Ah, I think, the venue has been changed… but this is a good choice; many potential audience members constantly pass through and past this area. Again, I can find no signs up, but some families have obviously found out about the new, free-of-charge, venue, and the management assures me that all those who previously bought tickets are now being reimbursed. Again, the changes are certainly a good decision!

The first and most obvious similarities, for me, are that the same dancers perform in both works and that their costumes are, for the most part, the same for both performances. Part of me likes the linking of the two performances in this way; part of me would like to see brightly coloured, more zany costumes for Dirt and Delicious, that would appeal more to children. But these are small details. The muted-ness of costumes is soon forgotten in the noise and dynamism of the performers – dancers and musicians.

Secondly, while some of the spice/barrels and boxes props are the same and used in the same way in each performance, others are appropriately different. Where in The Wine Project, the audience are involved in various forms of spices, grapes, wine, and physical movement and greetings embraces, in Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients, there are also bright red capsicums and tomatoes, a brief tomato fight, and water. I note how these well-fed children leave the laid out food props until invited to be involved; I cannot help thinking of the children I work with, or indeed of this company taking their work back to Europe and the very different reaction that children might have were this company to perform in the context of the current tsunami of hungry refugees. Definitely food for thought.

Having said all the above, this company certainly knows how to engage with audiences, whoever they are (Sasha’s training?)! In The Wine Project, the audience seating is laid out in a square with open corners, very close to the performance space. The performers quickly make eye contact with the audience, begin interacting with them and involving them in the action. Similarly with Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients, dancers shake hands with individual children, sit with the audience and ‘train’ the children to wave and respond before the show even starts. Thus, in both cases, the audience is primed, either through proximity or through personal interaction, to expect to be involved. This level of involvement is a surprise to many in the evening performance, but the audience comments that I overhear at the end are enthusiastically positive. For children, the interaction of performers with audience, and audience participation, are usually essential. As Dirt and Delicious continues, I see more and more families arrive, and the early ‘training’ of the small audience members up the front is an added attraction to the new arrivals. I surmise that, even if a group of people only stay for 5 minutes before moving on again towards their planned destination, they will still have gained some rich experiences from their contact with this show.

Fourthly, Sasha Copland’s work is not for performers who are not prepared to mix it with dirt, squishiness, loudness, drumming, shouting and singing, messiness, getting wet and dirty, performance extrovert-ness, or mayhem! In both performances, the dancers and musicians interweave in movement and drumming and then separate out into musicians with classical stringed instruments and well-trained contemporary dancers, both of high skill and power. Yet, pervading both are the dynamic drumming, swift movement changes, loud vocalisations, and general revelry and fun, and, of course, the abundance of spices, etcetera, to be thrown, rolled in, smeared on each other and shared with audience members.

Fifthly, while Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients focuses only on the lively, the celebratory, the noisy and messy (and appropriately so), The Wine Project includes these elements but also darker themes of rivalry, control and manipulation. As the Gardens Arts Festival Programme suggests: The Wine Project “invites you into a world of intrigue and aroma, of ritual and revelry, of sex and power”. During Wine Project, I am reminded of a Greek tragedy I once performed in;  while during Dirt and Other Delicious Ingredients, I am reminded of performing outdoors as part of the Wellington Summer City Programme many years ago, two very different events.

Finally, I see sections of choreography from The Wine Project repeated in Dirt and Delicious with a similar level of energy, vivaciousness and ‘hoopla’. Both shows, but particularly The Wine Project, encourage audiences in a full sensory experience of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touches and physical movement. After the evening performance of The Wine Project, I find that the spicy smells stay in my hair for hours and I need to wash crushed spices off my face before bed. I am told that the Pavilion still smells strongly of spices the morning following this performance. I imagine that musical phrases, rhythms, movements and vivid visual images will also stay with the audiences of both performances. 


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Sweet wine satisfies

Review by Ann Hunt 05th Feb 2016

Java Dance Theatre has a hit on its hands – and its feet. The Wine Project is a heady mix of high calibre dance and music that will leave you with a smile on your face and a melody in your heart.

Choreographer Sacha Copeland’s production skilfully illustrates the transformative quality of wine on people and communities. Watching it, you use all your senses – sight, sound, smell, touch and even taste.

Circa’s auditorium has been re-configured for this production, with the performance area surrounded by seating on all four sides. Sightlines are excellent. [More]


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Simply Intoxicating

Review by Donna Banicevich Gera 04th Feb 2016

The Wine Project by Java Dance Theatre is currently running at Circa Theatre. ‘Wow’ I don’t think any other word better describes this intoxicating performance. Sometimes sensual and evocative, other times playful and taunting, then sad and deeply moving. A true emotional roller coaster. And what a fine ride to be on.

From the moment we enter the theatre we are in the vineyard. Vines weave their way through the rafters hanging over the performance space. We walk through the dirt past wooden wine barrels, breathing in the smells of the land.

Choreographer Sacha Copland has truly excelled by capturing all five senses and serving them up on a platter. The quote: ‘We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine’ by Eduardo Galeano is featured in the programme, and it is around these words that the story unfolds.

We follow the birth of the vine, the growth of the grape, and the transformation through the wine making process to a final product. Simultaneously we experience life on another level, exploring basic human needs, especially love, the rise and fall of relationships, and the tribulations society throws at us.

The five characters played by creators and cast members Charles Davenport, Sarah Gatzonis, Michael Gudgeon, Tristan Carter, and Emma Coppersmith, transport the audience seamlessly into the world of winemaking and relationships. For me this is a gift well beyond expectations. Of special mention has to be the strong provocative performance by Sarah Gatzonis in the role of Lorietta. She nails it.

The simplicity of the set is naturalistic, rich and earthy, providing a beautiful backdrop for the story. The live music is inspiring. The dancing is powerful and dramatic. This is one talented cast. Their interaction with the audience is constant and works well at maintaining connection and total immersion. You can taste, you can smell, you can hear, you can see, you can touch.

At one point they throw grapes – you don’t want to be in the line of fire.  I saw one member of the audience rubbing her shin. But maybe that’s the point. Sometimes things do take us by surprise. 

If you think this production ticks all the boxes you’re right. For me it does. And the downside? At some stage one of the wine barrels wobbled – my heart raced, but only for a second. Dancing on top of wine barrels is no mean feat.

This performance shouldn’t be missed. Like a fine wine, it winds its way into your system making you tingle all over. I left the theatre knowing I’d just experienced something special.


Java Dance February 5th, 2016

Thank you for sharing the Wellington opening night of The Wine Project with us. We had a fabulous time with you. Java Dance Theatre has toured The Wine Project throughout NZ and now we are ready to return to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year with our best show yet. We are seeking your help to take The Wine Project to the World.

Thanks to the success of our New Zealand tour we are already part of the way there. We have received funding from Creative New Zealand towards some of the costs of taking The Wine Project to Edinburgh, but to bring it to full fruition we need your help. The Wine Project is bigger, brighter and even more delicious smelling than any of our other shows. We are seeking $10,000 to buy 5 barrels and 850 cinnamon sticks (we can't get them through customs!) and to accommodate a thoughtful cellist, a charismatic violinist and three enchanting dancers while they perform 32 shows. Join us in bringing this enticing show to Edinburgh!

Java Dance Theatre clambers into your senses and gets under your skin. We explore the boundaries of the unexpected. It's a sensory experience where the audience is essential. Our signatures are intense physicality, emotional engagement and audience immersion. The Wine Project does all this and more.

Your support large or small will make a real difference. The vines of this campaign are already growing. Please donate generously. Immerse yourself. We have 5 weeks to get there.

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Spicy hedonism and sensuality

Review by Kim Buckley 08th Nov 2015

It cracked under my boot as I walked across the floor to my seat. Then I smelt it, spicy. As I bent down to pick the surprise up, fresh cinnamon savoured its way into my senses. Then I realised that while Charles Davenport was sitting thoughtfully atop a wine barrel, the snapping sounds I am hearing are in fact, the cinnamon sticks he is handling and letting drop to the floor. Beside him on the wine barrel, is a cellosumptuous entry into the world of Java Dance Company’s The Wine Project. 

Three wine barrels, a couple of box percussion drums, lots of broken cinnamon and quite a few fresh green vine leaves litter the dancer’s black floor. This performance in the round is well lit, nothing is hidden. As I take my seat and look up I see casually protruding from between the wine barrels, a black Doc Martin adorning the foot of a well shaped naked leg and a relaxed hand holding onto more fresh grapevine. I am already immersed. 

Charles begins to play his cello and the naked leg with boot, relaxed hand and grapevine appears belonging to Sarah Gatzonis. She is resplendent in her Goddess like nudity. And playful. A chase begins as Michael Gudgeon tries to catch and clothe her. She takes to the top of the barrels and as she moves slowly, I am at once reminded of a Roman statue, a grand cathedral, Salome, and the feminine sexuality. In her perfect seductress, she enchants us with her best bad girl pretending to smoke two cinnamon sticks. There is an innocence and an irony in the way she embodies this idea while she sensually allows herself to be slowly and surely wrapped in a linen swath around her pelvis. 

Tristan Carter startles us by rushing on and getting into the personal space of some of the front row audience. Four or five times he intimately whispers in their ears such things as “You have fire in your eyes…”. He is a Beelzebub, both enticing and challenging the audience’s conscience. Tristan plays a great violin and later personifies Dionysus himself. 

Emma Coppersmith brings what seems to be a chaste elegance to the milieu. And a lot more cinnamon which becomes the percussive beginning of a party with music, drumming, stamping, slapping on anything and everything. So much is happening at this point, my senses are overwhelmed with sight, sound and smell, I begin to believe I am part of this scene, that at any moment, I will get up and join in the reverie myself. I can feel it in my own body. We are only fifteen minutes in to this rich performance and already this company has achieved near total immersion of their audience. 

The story unfolds as the narrative becomes obvious but is cleverly disguised with fantastic transitions between the high and low points of the sequential events. This keeps the audience on their toes, and encourages us to seek our own understanding of, and commitment to, the work we are experiencing. I am embraced and kissed like a dear friend. I am given red wine that has been lovingly poured through muslin and then captured in a glass from a high by six hands and three bodies. I have dry mint thrown over me as if I too, am part of the wedding party. 

Layers of history and old cultures are abundant, Greek, Russian, Spanish, French, Eastern European. I’m watching a hedonistic replay of the history of the grape through metaphor. Sacha Copland choreographed this work based on her fascination with the simplicity of a grape transforming into the complexity of wine. She is fascinated with this “metaphor for how people begin with basic human needs and form layered societies and hierarchies, creating art, war and all sort of other things along the way.” 

Java Dance Company is a force to be reckoned with. They are totally committed to their craft physically, emotionally, energetically. Both choreographically and in performance, there is a reverence to this work that is tangible. It was a breath of fresh air for me and I enjoyed every single second of their presence. Thank you Java, come back to Hawkes Bay as soon as you can. 



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Inspired by wine and oh so captivating

Review by Dr Linda Ashley 30th Oct 2015

Top notes of the aromatics of the wine world are what the audience first encounter as they enter the Pacific Crystal Palace. Most of the audience are already doing a tasting of the real thing before the show begins. There is something simply organic about Copland’s choice of choreographic inspiration and the small, intimate space of a Spiegeltent delivers just the right wine bar ambience. 

As the co-creator dancers begin a young Spring shoot of the vine takes centre stage (Sarah Gatzonis). Wild, untamed, rambling, twining but then the viticularist (Michael Gudgeon) takes things in hand, binding the ‘naked grape’ onto the trellis. It is one of many inspired moments that illustrate Copland’s and the dancers’ sharp physical and intellectual imaginations. There are many such fleeting moments, including a cinnamon quill-smoking, aloof femme of French film noir, precarious romantic liaisons balancing atop of wine barrels, and a progressive folk dance where the barriques take centre stage. Who knew wine barrels could be so many different things?  They even appear as thrones of power as we witness the rise and fall of the Roman Empire – well or any despot dictator through time. Also, if anyone had told me that I would see a successful dance expressing the less than pleasant after effects of drinking far, far too much – and enjoy it, I would never have believed them! The duet (Gatzonis and Emma Copperfield) clearly shows how Copland works with her dancers’ strengths, in this instance, restrained humour, acting and stunning physical strength and control.

We understand, thanks to Copland’s imagination, the power that a glass of wine can hold. At one point the ever-sharp Tristan Carter, clearly nectar-fuelled, circulates, whispering sweet nothings in our ears, tempting us with fragrant futures. Indeed, throughout the audience are gently led into playing many roles in the show. Some of us are fed and treated to a drink, others become haplessly entrapped in the middle of a war in which imaginary missiles are thrown over their heads. Copland is inclusive in ways that many fail to reach; another characteristic feature that is so Copland and captivating.

We are treated to layer upon layer of Bacchinale music, percussion and rhythmic playfulness by the musicians (Carter and Davenport), the dancers (Gudgeon, Gatzonis, Coppersmith) and, happy to do so, we lend a hand as well. The performers’ work rate is simply staggering and the show so engaging that the hour just flies by. I notice that at the picture perfect end the performers led off in direction of the bar. They deserve a drink. 


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Review by Janet Whittington 19th Oct 2015

The smells are fabulous. Walking in, the patrons are still savouring the flavours of Neudorf & Mahana in their wine glasses when the performance floor detritus of cinnamon, star anise, coffee, mint and more invites deep breaths inhaling the lovely mix of scents.

The party starts immediately and engulfs the room! The audience are just party-goers sitting out the current dance, imagining themselves still diving into the heat of the dancing in the room. Everyone is alive with the percussion beats of drum boxes doubling as stage props. Tristan Carter on violin and Charley Davenport on cello add the European influence of a traditional catholic wedding. So the dancers have one. The audience clap and cheer, throwing dried mint instead of rice and rose petals.

This performance has the “IT” factor! Sacha Copland’s choreography overdoses on champagne to raise the hour above the normal routine of dance experience. I am very impressed and would happily allow myself to be led again, through the intoxicated highs of love and alcohol and the lows of some of the seven deadly sins of avarice, jealousy and more…

Both musicians participate in the dancing and the unfolding drama, while remaining on stage playing. Davenport in particular deserves an Oscar as the comedian and lord of dark anger. The dancers equally contribute – Emma Coppersmith brings an air of elegance, Sarah Gatzonis an air of salacious freedom, with Michael Gudgeon dealing with the pull of emotions in multiple directions throughout the performance.

In full light, surrounded on all sides, they cavort and sweep, the audience’s faces alight with pleasure, concern, regret, tension, understanding-  utterly enthralled with the mime and explosion of emotions in front of them.

Yes, it has a story, but this is a dance of joy you feel to the extreme, a drama you know in your soul, a dark secret they share that you won’t admit is yours. It is at times lustful, at others bordering on the naughty and lascivious.

I appreciate the irony of the evening only at the end. Savage & Savage are a local firm of chartered accountants, who gave a quick speech as sponsors at the beginning. Accountants aren’t noted for their emotion, rather more for their containment thereof. Did they know how wilful and wild the performance would be?

If you liked Java Dance company’s Back of the Bus, this is far superior – one you will judge all dance performances by in future. On again tonight with a few seats to spare. Don’t miss it.



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