Urban Devas

Various sites within the CBD, Auckland

09/04/2010 - 17/04/2010

The Living Room 2010: A Week of Goodness

Production Details

Phil Dadson and Carol Brown have collaborated to create, Urban Devas.

In this piece a roving chorus inhabits a series of civic spaces within the central business district of Auckland through body movement, voice and sonic props. Informed by Max Ernst’s graphic novel an artist’s book Une Semaine de Bonté (A Week of Kindness), these performers appear as surreal figures – devas, between reality and myth – who occupy spaces in-between and in the gaps and cavities of dominant civic spaces.

Arriving unannounced and ‘out of the blue’ at pre-determined times and places, they perform short choreographic interventions and loud sonic interjections that resonate through the public site.

This event is part of Living Room, on from 9 to 17 April, which brings together a talented group of local and international artists and choreographers in a curated programme around the theme; “A Week of Goodness”.

Saturday 10 April – Saturday 17 April.
Various sites within the Auckland CBD.
Day/times: Friday, 9 April, 6.15pm, starts from Pier 3, Quay Street (Launch event)

 Saturday, 10 April, 2pm, starts from Pier 3, Quay Street
 Tuesday, 13 April, 12.30pm, starts from Freyberg Place
 Thursday, 15 April, 2pm, starts from Pier 3, Quay Street
 Saturday, 17 April, 12.30pm, starts from Freyberg Place
Location: Various (as above)
Duration: 20 minutes
Artist talk:   Saturday, 10 April, 11am, Art Station (Phil Dadson)

Costume designer: Christina Haughton (NZ)

Dancers: Ai Fuji Nelson, Emily Adams, Alana Yee, Tracey Buchanan, Becca Woods, Rachel Ruchstuhl-Mann, Evania Vallyon, Liana Yew, Sarah Gavina Campus, Kerryn McMurdo

20 mins

Following the sirens, a.k.a. Devas

Review by Jack Gray 19th Apr 2010

PIER 3: It is a grayish day, slight wind, traffic sounds behind me. Sitting on some concrete steps at the Quay St ferry terminal feels like an inconspicuous “performance” place. A few bystanders and familiar dance faces are hanging out.
A Fullers Cruise ship approaches from around the harbour and a line-up of orange hazard vest suited bodies (women?) are arranged at the front of the boat. 
Holding metal trumpets at their mouths, we hear this group of Sirens singing about 20m away. Some harmonies waft beautifully with a high voiced release – Is it a Bulgarian chant? They start calling and responding to different welcomes in foreign languages: “Konichiwa”. “Kia Ora”. “Ciao”.
Disembarking {I suddenly get bowled over by the unexpected embrace of a friend who takes my attention for a second} the women stand, legs apart, and slowly survey the scene over and over. Becca Wood calls a command and they shift, jump, squat, turn in unison, before arranging their movement into a rhythmic cannon.
“We gotta chase them,” says my friend (as the Devas race across the road).
QE2 SQUARE: Moving briskly to the new tree garden with grey round pebbles.
The Sirens/Seagulls caterwaul and make jungle sounds in the trees, up and at the buildings. Like an S.O.S to invisible birds, they move and call. Kerryn McMurdo the ever-present controller motions the next shift.
They reassemble on a terracotta coloured patch of bricks (about 50m x 50 m wide). Spread out with the trumpets now a nose, trunk, beak, appendage they statically form installation type structures. A group of school kids opposite are eating their lunch, and giggle as they are treated to this surprise performance.
Mooing and lowing, the performers reach up and down, beneath their legs. The crowd gathers around, more familiar ‘dance’ faces arrive. Quite blank-faced and pedestrian, the dancers create smaller more condensed plateaus of movement. Not dancing, but more a series of scenes and shapes. Morphing their instruments into a long tunnel (joining trumpets front to end), Liana Yew sends a surreptitious Chinese whisper to a waiting ear.
Sarah Campus approaches me: “You’re like a little bird,” she coos.The performers go around and whisper other little secrets and words. I hear something about “kindness”. It is nice to have this little surprise. The kids start shouting. A whistle entreats us to the elevator. I think we have picked up a few stragglers for the journey.
BRITOMART UNDERGROUND TUNNEL: Some Security Guards stand there blocking the passage of the dancers, halting the planned performance.
They won’t let us through for lack of a ‘correct’ permit. I really want the audience to applaud or yell at them. It’s hilarious and dramatic. “Trespass notice!” they threaten. Access Denied.
QUEEN ST/CUSTOM ST INTERSECTION: The dancers stand on each side of the intersection and start calling like animals or deranged Eastern Europeans.
Sarah Campus excels at these fantastic vocalisations. I wonder if these sounds are like a Capuchin Monkey’s mating call? At the buzz of the crossing signal, the dancers run into the centre of the street and pose. It is ironically funny how they were considered a hazard to dance publicly in the train station, yet here they are risking life and limb amid car and foot traffic alike.
Now we’re travelling down Queen Street and getting swallowed up by the afternoon throng. Eek. It reminds me of a random Friday night out on the town where you get lost from your drunken mates. A Violinist busker is across the road. A guy on his phone ahead of me is explaining how security wouldn’t let us through. Thank goodness the dancers are wearing highly visible orange.
They are at a bus stop surveying again. One guy stands there really amused before moving away. Someone sneaks in for a photo on a phone. Another walks by and gives a performer the thumbs up. I feel so roving reporter right now! I wonder if we will end up at Burger King? I spy the goodies walking past the Kebab shop. 
“UP!” (Ahhhhh). “Accent” (Ha Ha Ha!), chime the Army.
VULCAN LANE: A group of lunching, smoking, soup-sipping people find themselves in the midst of a show. It is really entertaining to see their reactions.
The performers listen and call down the lane. Kerryn’s now familiar wave, smile and “this way” beckons the Pied Piper rats /audience along (like well trained puppies). I love the “What the…?” look of people sitting outside the bars. I think Wellingtonians would be a lot looser. Aucklanders are a bit funny. Oh hang on – it’s an Australian accent I hear. One guy shakes his head perplexed. We lose some of the audience to a round of dark ale.
The women sing one last song and run away. [I make friends with another audience member and we walk off happily together to see Sean Curham and Et Al’s installation up the road].

See also Celine Sumic’s review
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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