Timedance and Soma Songs

Middleton Grange School Performing Arts Centre, Christchurch

09/10/2012 - 09/10/2012

Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

17/10/2012 - 17/09/2012

The Body Festival 2012

Tempo Dance Festival 2012

Production Details

Time Dance

‘Time Dance’ is a new audiovisual dance film from Good Company Arts with live music from Stroma. ‘Time Dance’ is a dynamic fusion of new film technologies, live music and dance. Stroma and Good Company Arts have extensive reputations for experimental, boundary shifting work in their respective fields of contemporary music and digital dance. ‘Time Dance’ is the latest work from choreographer and filmmaker Daniel Belton.

‘Time Dance’ will draw the audience into a kaleidoscopic journey exploring space, topography and geometry. To an especially commissioned score from Michael Norris, the mebers of Stroma, under the baton of Hamish McKeich, will create a remarkable soundscape, which is an integral component in this rich audiovisual arts spectacle.

Good Company Arts continues to win international accolades and awards around the world for their distinctive multi-disciplinary, arresting and lyrical dance films.

For one night only at the elegant Middleton Grange Theatre, ‘Time dance’ offers Christchurch audiences the chance to experience a truly creative and remarkable evening.

Company             Daniel Belton and Good Company Arts

Venue  Middleton Grange School Theatre, 27 Arthur Street

Date/Time          Tue 9th Oct, 8.00pm

Duration              55 minutes

Cost       $35, $25 concession from Dash Tickets www.dashtickets.co.nz or phone 0800 327 484 booking fees apply


Accolades well-deserved

Review by Raewyn Whyte 19th Oct 2012

Dunedin-based choreographer/film maker Daniel Belton has received a string of international awards for his avant-garde short films. His most recent release,Time Dance, a feature of Tempo Dance Festival, shows why he has been winning those accolades.

The first figure we see on the big screen is apparently comprised of tubes and has courtly bearing. He bows and greets invisible others with a grand flourish, apparently at home in inky black space overlaid with heavenly constellations comprised of traceries of dots interconnected by fine lines. By the end of this extraordinary work, 38 minutes later, we have seen…

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Sophisticated, timeless and international in scope

Review by Jennifer Nikolai 18th Oct 2012

Two pieces intricately layered with parallel through-lines, gave audiences an extraordinary experience that left us wanting more.  Good Company Arts, Stroma and collaborators have a history of producing numerous award-winning projects making dance theatre works and art films on the subject of human movement. 

Seeing both for the first time, the experience of the new work Time Dance was contextualized by SOMA SONGS, clearly an initial investigation into concepts that Time Dance explored further, but with a life of its own.  As stated in the programme- yes, it IS “a testimony to the creative team behind SOMA SONGS that 7 years after it’s first release, this unique project is gaining new interest on the international stage.” 

In both works we experience a playful study of human movement and our relationship to our origins, to nature and more dominantly to the history of 20th and 21st century technologies in motion capture, photography and cinematography. 

Time Dance is sophisticated and equally accessible, timeless and international in scope.  It resonates as a reference to the conception of moving image, to the pioneers of modern dance, to the algebraic systems surrounding human movement.  In relationship to these large systems, Time Dance pays attention to detail, through smaller studies repeated, augmented and transformed.  Such attention to detail is refreshing, at such a high caliber.

Imagine what audiences initially experienced when they saw the first moving images on screen.  We were exposed to a similar rare experience of viewing silent cinema with accompanying live musicians playing a stunning musical score.  Live and pre-recorded sounds intertwined, as did musicians, dancers and conductors, alternating roles.

The marriage between human movement studies and the dancing subject has a long history, to which Time Dance has now substantially contributed.  For those of us who see dance as an ideal form to investigate moving image technologies and time; this work gives weight to dance as the form that integrates the human figure and our more timeless relationship to geometry, geography, our journey, our planet and the passage of time. 

The live and digital dancer make these studies more than a possibility, they become poetry in this work.  The dance composition and performance of movement vocabulary linked thoughtfully, accurately, beautifully to the history of modern dance, human movement studies and studies in light.  Dance and the moving image create a language that gives each of these subjects respect and consideration.

Time is manipulated, altered and manufactured through the duration of the performance experience.  The pace at which these collaborative artists have determined the length and subject matter within the arc of the larger work as a whole, is so satisfying.  Each of the seven studies is developed with individual nuances that allow viewers to be entertained investigators, a delightful combination in such a proposed study.  

The moment where we get a close-up of the dancers in their duet, we get lost in who they are, how they move and their larger relationship to space.  We see them, we want to see more, we get to see just enough, and we move on.

This element of tease and surprise returns again when we finally get to see a live performer enter the performance space, as she looks at herself, projected.  Her presence is enormous, she occupies all of the space and yet she moves minimally in this live space, in dialog with herself and the environment. Geometry, geography, duration all meet in this moment.  As the piece climaxes and then concludes, the experience of the work seems to have occurred so rapidly, with such satisfaction.  Collaborators appear for a curtain call, there is a short interval and then we get more!  

SOMA SONGS was a delightful accompaniment to Time Dance in its more playful manner, showing first attempts to explore space with stone.  Again, investigating human relationship to materials in search of stories of architecture, the delightful play with scale as space and sound, was made even more playful with puzzles, landscape and echoes of initial studies in human movement with male subjects.  Experimentation with light parallel to geographic stratification again references time and the relationships between human-made and natural forms.

The live VJ and live audio processing performances were just as fascinating to watch as visual and sound cues rapidly moved again, so quickly through this work; a stunning accompaniment to Time Dance

The relationships between SOMA SONGS and Time Dance make for a beautiful programme.  Performances on screen and stage were equally stunning, giving full support to this intricate conceptual web that Belton and his numerous highly acclaimed collaborators have designed. 

These works are internationally transferrable, timeless, accessible and sophisticated.  Thank you for a stunning collaboration, may we see more.  We want more.


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Film to be experienced

Review by Luke Di Somma & Toby Behan 12th Oct 2012


Timedance is a film/dance/music piece directed by choreographer Daniel Belton in collaboration with new music ensemble, Stroma, with music from Stroma’s Co-Artistic Director Michael Norris.

We are greeted by an empty black stage with music stands and a piano on the prompt side of the stage.

Soon enough four musicians (Emma Sayers, Rowan Prior, Megan Molina and Anna Van Der Zee) plus conductor Hamish McKeich join us, and the film begins.

Describing the film is a fraught business – it’s an abstract, beautifully shot and edited depiction of various dancers in a series of almost martial arts inspired contemporary dance moves. The dancers are armed with elegantly non-threatening staffs, and the film develops into a piece focused on one particular dancer – beautifully dressed in a dark stripey sarong type garment, which speaks to an almost spiritual quality to this dancer, in fact the entire film.

If all art is a collaboration between the left brain and the right brain; or a collision of analytical technique and structure, with more holistic considerations, then Timedance appears to be exploring the arithmetic of dance — the rhythms, and patterns upon which dance is built. These repeat, ebb, and flow; are broken down and built back up; are emphasised through helix or matrix type imagery scattered through the film.

What it all means is probably up for grabs, but one thing’s for sure – it’s an absolute treat.

As is Michael Norris’ score. If Belton is providing a glimpse into the mathematical side of his craft, then Norris brings his own structural concept to the music. Inspired by, and then breaking down Bach’s Suite No. 2 in B minor, Norris creates a beautiful and evocative soundscape, tastefully and gently amplified, exquisitely and sensitively played, and perfectly suited to Belton’s work on the screen behind the players. A deep and fantastic collaboration is at play here.

Fans of Norris’ music will know that it is often inspired through various patterns and numbers, and in this sense is a natural partner for the Belton’s work. The Bach as a basis for the piece works well, leading to a diverse score which is at times confronting, but fairly tonal, and completely accessible. Some of the string writing in particular is breath taking; delicate tremolos and trills flow from one instrument to the other, punctuated by some fantastic pianism, all held together by conductor McKeich.

The film and the music really do work together to a very satisfying end, with only the occasional disconnecting transition not quite working as well. The only disappointment is a fairly stock dissolve into the sounds of the ocean and wind towards the end of the film – somewhat of an aural anti-climax after enjoying Norris’ musical world for the past 35 minutes.  But that’s a minor quibble.

It is refreshing to see something innovative and multidisciplinary in Christchurch – we have been slightly starved of this kind of work for sometime, so kudos to Body Festival for seeing this work and bringing it to Christchurch. It deserves a bigger crowd, but those who were there appreciated it very much.

Auckland is next, and then a ‘world wide web’ performance, which I can only assume is some form of live streaming. Whether you go in person, or log on -don’t miss Timedance.


Dance film can be a daunting medium, from both a compositional and an audience perspective. In order to be successful (whilst acknowledging that there will be a large diversity of opinion on the meaning of ‘success’, in this context), there needs to be a clear reason as to why the work is presented as a film rather than as a live dance work. Without such a premise, dance film can often seem unnecessarily ‘one step removed’ from where it seems to more naturally belong.

Soma Songs, the second film of the evening, is clearly not a work that could be accomplished in a live setting – although since last seen in Christchurch, this film does have a live audio-visual component added to it. The opening images of the film depict tiny figures working their way across massive stone constructions, with the carefully composed shots gradually working their way inwards. The stone construction (a vast wall) is divided into individual blocks, with some of these scattered on the ground. The concept of many blocks forming the makeup of the whole is an important one to establish at the beginning, as this underlies much of what is to come.

The figures (moving alternately in fast-forward, stop-motion, as well as in normal time) appear to dissect one of the fallen blocks into geometric shapes, which are then rotated and manipulated before our eyes. The film action combines graphics as well as live shots, and vaguely reminiscent of an M C Escher painting, plays with notion of scale, gravity, and even tessellation as dance figures appear on all surfaces, at all angles, whilst other geometric shapes are displayed and manipulated at the same time.

There is clearly a massive amount of thought and composition behind the work, and Soma Songs has recently enjoyed further success (following an initial presentation at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space) at the Festival Internacional de la Imagen in Manizales, Colombia. The latter of these presentations had the additional live AV set which accompanied this evening’s performance also. The live AV set consists of Belton and Grenfell manipulating tuning forks and stones to accompany an electronic score. It might be fair to say that only the extremely practiced ear would notice the difference, although it adds an element of interest to the visual spectacle.

For all the complexity and careful composition however, Soma Songs is likely to be over the head of many casual audience goers. It is certainly not a film that will easily produce any emotional connection (although this is unlikely to be the aim). It is more of a film to be experienced – to allow yourself to appreciate from afar the geometry, multiplication, division and compositional placement that is offered to you over the 23 minute duration.  It is successful in that it presents a vastly complex arrangement of material with clear skill, planning and construction. The question that one is left with however, is how many audience members know exactly how to process what they have been offered. 


Editor October 12th, 2012

The assigned reviewer for this was Toby Behan, however, he was delayed by road conditions driving from the outer regions in to Christchurch and missed most of Timedance. So after discussions with the Body Festival director to identify a suitable person, Luke Di Somma stepped up to  review Timedance – for which Theatreview is very grateful - and Toby reviewed Soma Songs.

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