To Be Glorified

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

03/10/2013 - 05/10/2013

Production Details


Solo , Dance ,

50 mins

“there being a story to be told”

Review by Christina Houghton 04th Oct 2013

Zahra Killeen-Chance’s new solo work To Be Glorified brings together an intimate audience in the studio theatre at the Basement under the guise of “there being a story to be told”, as per the subtle promotional material proceeding this event. Zahra’s complex and layered work begins with an invitation and a personal greeting, followed by a number of offerings and calm comforts for the audience so that they feel part of something special, or at least be in for some kind of sensory experience.

The audience are propped in the usual seating yet the striking image of Zahra as a two dimensional gliding upright character, who appears to be stuck on what she wants to tell us, creates the sensation of being part of an apostolic church congregation. The unveiling of costumes, lighting, and Samin’s ‘Indie Techno Pop Grunge’ (author’s emphasis) all combine to create a dark sense of foreboding as we witness the slow unraveling of the underlying concept of the piece. How do we feel about this profession and do we have faith?

Zahra’s well-crafted choreography suggests a continual or repetitive acknowledgement of the audience – a critical nod to spectatorship, the devices of dance and performer audience relationships, as well as ironically commenting on the affect of the language of dance.

There is no need to speak when dance can say it all. Or is there?

“Now it’s time to repeat after me…” she says and we all do as we are asked. I wonder about the social tendency of humans to follow the crowd.

Zahra owns this small black box space with her usual style of choreographing slices of her embodied dance history with spoken word and film. I particularly enjoy the duet with projected Samin Son, with her deadpan response to his overt entertainment style dance-off. She seems to be playing out each gesture in a disinterested manner that suggests the question “is it all worth it”?

I was pleased when this expression broke into continuous fake smile in response to the ‘Glory’ of small repetitions of dance spectacular, of which she is a technician extraordinaire. There are further excellent moments in projected documentary such as parodic (or not?) confessional blackout interviews of ‘those’ in the profession. I begin to feel uncomfortable as Solomon Mortimer is projected on the wall to enduringly welcome us to this cult like activity in order move forward in this world.

Artistically this work is a story which “is speaking to itself” as a self-reflective critic on what it is to be creative and or ‘professional’ and the audience is collectively implied in this. We are here after all aren’t we? It is also an example of Zahra’s creative talent to bring together images and personal philosophies into a piece that encourages uneasy questions with no answers. I do wonder however if this is by intention or a chance encounter, it doesn’t seem to matter either way. So we are left questioning do we actually believe or do we only half believe.

The political aspect of this work was refreshing and left space for an interesting after-show discussion on both religion and the current social politics of art and theatre in Aotearoa. This work also contributes to current choreographic experimentation into what it is to be audience and performer that I find an interesting and worthwhile experience when going out to see live work. I look forward to experiencing more of Zahra’s work in the future.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council