Touch Compass - National Tour

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

13/11/2007 - 15/11/2007

Production Details

Touch Compass

Touch Compass dances around the North Island for a tenth birthday celebration

Renowned New Zealand dance company Touch Compass celebrates its 10th anniversary in Auckland from October 17, 2007 with a four centre North Island tour. The company’s most memorable works have been selected for this retrospective showcase, including the outstanding and critically acclaimed work – Lusi’s Eden.

Over the last ten years audiences have been drawn to the beauty and skill of this ground breaking company, unique for its integration of professional dancers and choreographers with and without a disability.

Highly regarded for their innovation and “flying” which sees wheelchairs and dancers suspended and swinging above the stage, the company creates work to challenge public perception of “what dance is and who is a dancer”. The work that has resulted has earned Touch Compass the reputation as a pioneering and ingenious contemporary dance company.

A decade ago, artistic director and founder Catherine Chappell returned home from the United States to experiment with her newly learned contact improvisation skills. Touch Compass was created in the same year and in 1997 the first Touch Compass season proudly premiered at Auckland’s Maidment Theatre.

Lusi’s Eden is a theatrical journey which sees the heroine Lusi Faiva trade her electric wheelchair for a harness to fly her to freedom across the stage and high above the audience. This physical and metaphorical flight of fancy inspires and uplifts audiences who identify with the liberation of spirit which is captured by this poignant and exuberant work.

Lusi’s Eden [is] a precious gem, polished and flawless and brilliantly lit from the heart within. – Bernadette Rae, New Zealand Herald, 2001

The 2007 Touch Compass retrospective tour offers audiences a chance to trace the journey of this captivating dance company as they launch into a new decade of exceptional dance.

RETROSPECTIVE SEASON runs 17 October – 15 November 2007 
Tickets go on sale 6 Aug 2007. 
Tickets from $20-$50 (concessions and group discounts available).

As part of the 2007 tempo – NZ Festival of Dance
Maidment Theatre, 17th-20th October.
Bookings: (09) 3082383 or

Forum North, 31st October.
Bookings: (09) 430 4244 or 

Hawkes Bay Opera House, 8th November.
Bookings: 0800 4 TICKET or 

Te Whaea Theatre, 13th – 15th November. 
Bookings: 0800 4 842538 or 

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

Touching the Compass that's our Heart

Review by Jennifer Shennan 16th Nov 2007

The season celebrates this intrepid little company that Catherine Chappell and a host of pioneering stalwarts have kept viable for ten years. One rarely encounters such prolonged and heartfelt applause, nor indeed such a modest response from the dancers, after a performance.

The spirit of Leonardo da Vinci seemed to spread through the first dance, Trace Map, choreographed by Chappell. The space and the dancers were defined as  circles, lines, angles, arcs and  squares to navigate the history of the company’s journey to date, and motifs referenced previous works.

An audience very swiftly adjusts to the extraordinary technical demands and daring of aerial equipment that has the dancers more often high in the air than on the floor. (As one who often watches university professors and arts impresarios struggle for 20 minutes to get their PowerPoint presentations to work before abandoning them, I think this achievement should not pass without mention, and full credit to the stage crew.)

Short films were interspersed between live items: Union, by Alyx Duncan, was an impressive portrait of a man and his dog; Remotely Driven showed the fantasy life of a little girl; The Picnic was a hysterically funny and brilliantly styled surreal journey that Lewis Carroll could have wished to produce.

A mighty impressive duel between two Greek gods, Hephaestus & Ares, was as breath-taking for the audience as it was for the dancers. Spoke, by Malia Johnston, was another study of the spinning circles and spirals that lift the floor up into the vertical. The classic Lusi’s Eden, starring Lusi Faiva and everyone, was as entertaining and beautiful as I’d remembered  since 2001. The ending steals your heart.

But perhaps it was Amir-Spinnaret, choreographed by Felicity Molloy, to an aching song by Leonard Cohen, that gave the evening an almost unbearable poignancy. The dancers journeyed slowly, each in their own way, across the stage from east to west, from alpha to omega.  Everything was here caught.

Some of the movement is graceful, some is blurringly exciting. Oh by the way, I forgot to tell you that one of the dancers has Downs Syndrome, another has only two working limbs, one has no working limbs at all, two need wheel chairs … etc.  So who’s counting?   
For more production details, click on the title at the top of this review. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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