UNITEC DANCE SHOWCASE 2018
Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland
15/11/2018 - 18/11/2018
Presented by Unitec Dance
Unitec Dance presents Showcase 2018 – a celebration of exceptional learning and teaching, professional collaboration and incredible DANCE.
Unitec Dance is the only degree program in New Zealand that offers full time technical, choreographic, and academic training with a primary focus on creativity, collaboration and performance. We are proud of the fact that this performance highlights our dance students’ performance skills, technical virtuosity and diverse artistry.
We come together as a cohort of dance artists excited at the opportunity to share our craft with family and friends, united in support of our soon to be graduates, and excelling in what we do best. This year we are pleased to welcome home Unitec Dance Alumni Bianca Hyslop, Jessie McCall, Eddie Elliott and Tamsyn Russell. Bianca worked with our full student whanau to activate the space and welcome our audience into it, while Jessie developed a new dance theatre work in collaboration with the Year 1 dancers. Eddie has created a vibrant and intriguing work on a select group of students to showcase his emerging choreographic talent.
After making her Unitec debut to rave reviews in 2017, Tamsyn returns to us via Edinburgh to work her magic yet again with our current Year 2 cohort. Following a successful season of the powerful Orchids and the premiere of new works by on Footnote NZ and The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Sarah Foster-Sproull premiers an exhilarating work created in collaboration with Unitec’s graduating class of 2018.
This year we are also pleased to welcome back company IDCO director Joshua Cesan, a master choreographer who brings his award-winning brand of Hip-Hop to this year’s Showcase finale and curtain call. Finally, tonight we jointly celebrate the culmination of an epic three-year learning journey of our current Year 3 cohort as well as the conclusion of the inaugural intake of Unitec’s first double degree students, in partnership with the Beijing Dance Academy who now return to Beijing to complete their training. The BDA students perform a new work created for them by dance icon Michael Parmenter.
Sincere gratitude must go to the Creative Team. Thank you for your invaluable contribution in making this production not only a roaring success but a true testament to our ability to work together as a team.
We invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy some of NZ’s finest contemporary dancing.
Academic Leader CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
Graduating Year 3 students: Presley Ziogas, Libby Valentine, Abbie Rodgers, Kimberly Green, Nea Brink Lily Warner, Sophie Grieg, Laura Ryan, Nicole Wilkie, Indiana Carder-Dodd Olivia Gilligan, Samantha Crossman, Hannah Raimon, Lavendar Ta’ale Tuigamala, Tiara Beazley Kiwa Andrews, Eileen ‘Eyes’ Wikita, Pamela McHardy
Dance , Contemporary dance ,
Satisfying diverse and in fine mettle
Review by Chloe Klein 15th Nov 2018
Showcase 2018 is the Unitec Dance programme’s end of year performance, a summation of the year, and of 3 years for their graduating class. Featuring 6 works by Aotearoa New Zealand choreographers, and performed by the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year groups of Unitec students, in addition to the Beijing Dance Academy group. As a whole, the programme is satisfyingly diverse in tone, technical challenge, and genre, and highlights the quality of mettle we have in our repertoire of Aotearoa New Zealand choreographers across generations and styles. The evening also paints a promising future of our industry’s performers.
The programme opens with Pōwhiri, a choreographic activation from the direction of Bianca Hyslop, welcoming all who have participated in the journey of the students, and acknowledging this moment as an opening and closing of a chapter. Performed by all four cohorts of dancers in neutral, muted costumes, the group holds a soft quality with Māori inspired contemporary movement in layered patterns. The group is held together in imperfect unison. This may be the Unitec dance programme, but this group can sing! Powerful karanga is delivered, followed by a stunning group waitata, and haka Tika Tonu fills the wa with electricity and anticipation. This quality of vocalisation onstage is consistent throughout the evening. The work is a nuanced and fitting start to the evening.
Following is the playfully satirical Hope and Mourning in the Anthropocene created by Jessie McCall in collaboration with performers of the first-year group. The first year of training for performers can be a startling introduction to new realities and possibilities of what dance is and can be, beyond one’s own history. The group takes on McCall’s quirky choreographic style admirably. It’s satisfying to see them pushed as a group through their comfort zones, playing with character, expression, comedy, props, and the grounding of technique into simple movements, pushed into unusual contexts. The work is characterised by repetition- a cartoon-ized running man motif paired with loud and somewhat controlling sound disturbance, ice-cream colours, and whimsically treated geometric patterns.
Eddie Elliott’s In-tuition is a much darker work, starkly contrasting the works on its either side. Opening with a strong duet, top-lit performers in black struggle to progress, sonically surrounded by skittering sounds – on edge. The partnering in this work is both well designed and performed, the dancers connections both tactile and robust- a professional level performance. The work leaves some key images resonant, jagged, laboured, desperate, urgent, before wrestling into an eerie peace.
Closing out the first half is Joshua Cesan’s mellow, street rhythm based MusicaL.i.t.y. Loose and rolling, movement flows through the body, powering a series of solos, duets and trios, in a constant transit of on and offstage. Hip hop physicality is beyond the comfort zone of many contemporary dancers, and some performers tonight are definitely more comfortable than others in this genre. Cesan’s choreography offers these performers the chance to demonstrate their versatility across genre, while accentuating the strengths of the performers within the work. The piece ends with the full Unitec group joining on stage for a tightly delivered slick and suave finale.
One of the choreographic and performative highlights of the programme is Scene Shift choreographed by Tamsyn Russell. An exploration of the shifting dynamic of collective and individual, we are taken through a series of scenes, ranging from vintage, to driving, atmospheric, sultry, tragically European, and beyond. Catchy spoken remixes, with contribution from the performers, a changing score and lighting design help us to traverse these contexts smoothly. This piece visibly pushes the technical abilities of the second-year students, who excel in their execution. Groups are layered in and out, facial expressions and awkward pauses become choreographic devices, and enchanting moments of unison, or communal dedication to an image make this work absorbing. The movement is explosive and unexpected in both partnering and unison.
Performed by the students of the BDA, and choreographed by Michael Parmenter is Shèshì – to be involved. A roll of side-lit parchment is run across the front of the stage, emphasising the depth of black behind, and two performers stand in ink before imprinting their footsteps along the scroll, the quality of the prints fading in opposite directions. The work is intense and dramatic, aligning with the equally deliberate yet volatile string quartet recording of Bright Light and Cloud Shadows it partners with in exploring binary themes of presence. The dancers of the BDA are disciplined in their approach. Parmenter’s vocabulary sits within them with refined strength and endurance, as they partner in an increasing flurry of movement that pushes these binaries in further extremes. The result is a meeting between the groundedness that underlies New Zealand choreography, with their Chinese training. I find my own endurance also tested in maintaining kinesthic empathy with the performers, a sign that I have been drawn deeply into the work.
Concluding the programme with punch is Sarah Foster-Sproull’s Nothing Stands in the Way. Unitec’s graduating class are uniformed in pale pink, the back wall of the stage opens just enough to reveal a stage-high LED strip that feels like a gateway to another world/time/dimension. I can’t help but feel every time I watch Sarah Foster-Sproull’s work that her choreography is a living testament to the power and complexity of the female body, and this work is no exception. The work projects fierce states of emotion, purposely applied and channelled through breath-taking partnering, entrancing images, and fuelled by Eden Mullholland’s signature style score. Though the dynamic flow of the work moves between states of high and lowered energy, the performers never stop, rocking in endless momentum that always gives birth to expression, a continual giving in to the force of movement and determination. The third-year class embody this movement with endurance and abandon. The group is cohesive and attuned, proving they’re ready to enter the professional industry.
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