UNITEC 30th Anniversary Dance Showcase

Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland

14/11/2019 - 17/11/2019

Production Details

Presented by Unitec School of Creative Industries

Unitec School of Creative Industries presents

 SHOWCASE 2019: 30 years of Unitec Dance

Featuring work by Michael Parmenter and Unitec alumni Malia Johnston, Katie Burton, Tamsyn Russell, Paul Young, Jared Hemopo and Eileen Witika


Showcase 2019 is just around the corner and this year we are celebrating 30 years of incredible teaching, learning and industry building from one of the most innovative and progressive tertiary dance programmes New Zealand has seen. From its inception in 1989 under Ali East to its current format established by Charene Griggs, Unitec dance and our Alumni have been the nucleus of the dance community in NZ.

We are especially pleased to announce that the SHOWCASE 2019 programme features a repertoire of our favourite works from the last 10 years in a show almost exclusively choreographed by Unitec Dance Alumni.

Eileen Witika will work with the full cohort of students to activate the space and welcome our audience into it, and a select cast will perform Jared Hemopo’s beautiful Panekeneke (2013), a tender duet which explores a close relationship.

Paul Young and Katie Burton reprise the dark and enigmatic Penumbra (2016), a rich work of unfolding patterns that spiral on the borders of light and dark.

Returning to us via Edinburgh, Dancer/Choreographer Tamsyn Russell will again work her magic with crowd favourite, the punch Band Solo (2017). Tamsyn’s prolific career includes dancing for renowned choreographers Michael Parmenter (NZ), Janis Claxton (SCD) and producing her own acclaimed work including Go Get ’em Kid, and Scene Stealer.

Following successful seasons of the Movement Of The Human, Meremere and the 2019 premiere of new work Owls Do Cry with Red Leap Theatre Company, Malia Johnston will reimagine the dynamic and experimental Trigger (2013) on the graduating class of 2019. Malia brings with her a wealth of experience from all corners of the dance industry and we are really excited to have Malia on board.

This year we are also pleased to welcome the return of New Zealand Dance icon Michael Parmenter who will restage his powerful 1988 work Fields of Jeopardy, a seminal piece of extreme physicality that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Prepare for a celebratory evening of dance.

14-16 November @7:30pm & 17 November @5:00pm

Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Epsom, Auckland

Tickets on sale now at iTICKET.co.nz (09) 361 1000

Buy here: https://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2019/nov/showcase-2019

Dance , Contemporary dance ,

2 hours

Reflecting 30 years of dance development

Review by Chloe Klein 07th Dec 2019

The Unitec dance programme celebrated its 30th anniversary with a showcase of six works, one premiere and 5 restaged, performed by current students in the programme. 30 years of Unitec Dance is a significant milestone for our dance industry in Aotearoa, and the story of the programme’s long history is told through three video clips played throughout the performance. Backdropped by clips from classes and performances over the past three decades, we hear about the programme’s genesis, growth, values of innovation, experimentation, and positive social impact from artistic directors Ali East and Chris Jannides, and department head Charene Griggs.

Opening the programme is Pōwhiri, created by Eileen Witika and performed by the full student cohort. Pōwhiri is a karakia that opens the theatre as a space of performance, a ritual preparing us and the space for the creations that will take place across the evening. Cycling through a range of energies, states and sounds, Pōwhiri utilises solos, duets, groups, instruments, and song to build towards a confronting acknowledgement of the audience. The students prove themselves to be strong vocalists with waiata and haka that permeates the full theatre and leaves chills. The energy throughout is electrifying, and leaves us with an eagerness for the rest of the programme.

Penumbra, choreographed by Katie Burton and Paul Young, is an image-rich exploration of infinity, patterns, and twisting helixes. Penumbra feels like the snake that eats its tail- new images are ravelled and unravelled, but with each unravelling is a deliberation towards a new illusion. The patterns are visually pleasing, and rely on the coordination and unity of smaller parts ordered by height, costume colour, shape, and light. The consistency of creation in the choreography pairs with Chris O’Connor’s sound score to create a sense of continuous rhythm and trance. Several images are called to mind through the work- molecules, code, cellular shifts- intangible and collective. The dancers bring the work to life through consistent attention to detail, showcasing a type of performance distinct from the rest of the programme.

One of the highlights of the programme is Michael Parmenter’s Fields of Jeopardy, a gasp-inducing celebration of risk, virtuosity, body, and form of the human athlete. Fields of Jeopardy has been performed several times since its premiere in 1988, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it each of the three times I have seen it. The dancers leap, catch, hold, and resist throughout the work, holding a solid base and discipline within their bodies, and then contributing this anchoring to the group resulting in dynamic feats of partnering. Pockets of solo, duet and group flit on and off the stage, and around each other with speed, there is no time to breathe and relax before the next tension. The lifts, leaps, and throws cultivate a growing anticipation in the audience, each side stage entrance and moment of contact could send a dancer flying. The sense of possibility leaves us craving and rooting for each moment of freefall, the rollercoaster-like drop in the stomach through the moment of fear, and the relief and awe following success. The students handle such a technically challenging work with excellent dedication. I can see their limits being pushed throughout the performance, and can see the moments that they are still grappling with mastery, and find this to be satisfying as an audience member.

Band Solo, choreographed by Tamsyn Russell and now remounted, provides a refreshing comedic twist to the programme. The work progresses through a series of dramatic scenes that develop the characters of the performers through moments of spotlight, before folding them back into the group. The movement progresses through strong, sharp, and melodramatic, to whimsical and comical, to sultry and rebellious, and the students deliver a grounded and passionate performance that nails each state.

Panekeneke is a spectacular duet, choreographed by Jared Hemopo and performed by Faith Schuster and Miriam Eskildsen – who deliver standout performances of the evening. Panekeneke is a deep and peaceful breath in a programme of large casts. Framed by angular spots and crisp lighting design, Schuster and Eskildsen are graceful, strong, and silent. The duet feels like a gentle caress, their partnership is solid, weighted, and easy. The maturity, discipline, and vulnerability of Schuster and Eskildsen is evident, and elevates the shifting, transient choreography of the work.

Trigger is the final work of the evening and is choreographed by Malia Johnston, featuring movement created and contributed by the graduating class. The work begins with an empty stage and we are introduced to each dancer as they arrive to perform a snapshot of movement that reflects their personalities, their name projected on the back wall. As the dancers cluster, a picturesque scene emerges. The work develops as a series of ‘scenes’ driven by Eden Mulholland’s sound score. Trigger carries a sense of loosely organised chaos, a playful romp that revels in joy as groups diverge, dissect, travel, and meet – bare wings exposing dancers at the side of stage changing, preparing, and lining up for their next task. The work builds up to several pleasing images, and is a charming and authentic farewell from and to the graduating class.


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