We'll Be With You Shortly

Te Auaha, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

04/07/2024 - 04/07/2024

Pōneke Festival of Contemporary Dance

Production Details


Choreographer/Producer: Liz Cocks

EKC


The year is 3024. Technology has progressed to the point that humans can now tell when someone is going to die. To spare the pain and uncertainty of a natural death, we now receive a message signalling us to go to the waiting room. We must go immediately. Here we sit and wait in the comfort of a well furnished and pleasantly scented room to be taken through to the next life. Long gone are the days of nature taking its course; how heartbreaking it was and how unfair that it took us so differently. Now we all go the same way, it is much better.

‘We’ll be with you shortly’ is a series of physical speeches from five individuals as they meet finality.


Performers: Aylin Atalay, Anna Hosking, Stela Dara, Caterina Moreno, Liz Cocks
Sound Design: Sibel Atalay
Lighting Design and Operator: Janis Cheng


Contemporary dance , Dance ,


55 minutes

A solid backbone and great potential

Review by Tessa Martin 07th Jul 2024

`The year is 3024 and technology has progressed to the point that humans can now tell when someone is going to die` 

3 dancers dressed in plain black pants, shirts and black socks enter one by one to a dark rumbling soundscape. They are dead-pan, emotionless, walking in line and changing directions abruptly in a low sombre light, then an automated voice `hello there` from a speaker above sounds.  There`s some kind of controlling big brother present and they are waiting for something, that something being their `finality’. 

There is a haunting, dimly lit, black stepping ladder on the right side of stage whose presence is very large and dominant. It is lit from above which leads the imagination to thinking that this space is underground, almost dungeon-like.

The four dancers move all together in a fluid motion, to calming sounds similar to a vibraphone, as they undulate their upper bodies, subtly isolating their wrists and repeating hugging gestures. This could all be interpreted as the loved ones they have left behind them or simply movement exploration.  

Then the total shock surprise, a latecomer enters the audience which is blatantly disruptive for the audience but it is quickly ignored.  This so-called late-comer introduces herself as a very charismatic Stela Dara who tries her best to charm the people in charge but she is provoked and her gritty solo begins with industrial deep nightclub beats.  The dreary low-lights set the scene as she penetrates the audience with her eyes, like in a hip hop battle but with graceful smooth footing and wonderfully articulated upper body choreography.  Dara is a powerful performer given this key moment to shine in this work. 

A lot of meticulous work has gone into each individual’s choreography and soundscape which are all stunning, but all very different from one another. This works because there is coherence in the transitions between them, notably the transition between Stela’s gritty solo and the next piece, a romantic travelling waltz duet.  

This joyous duet (Aylin Atalay and Anna Hosking) reveals the technical abilities of both dancers showing leg extensions and fluid balletic arm movements — partner choreography seemingly influenced by some classic partner dances like ballroom and swing dance.  To begin the duet is not particularly moving until the couple return later with an attentive and tender choreography demonstrating that one of them is in fact very vulnerable and having to be lifted and dragged everywhere. A familiar image in contemporary dance but in this context it is much more confronting.

Music can quickly create tension. The evocative sound of chains with sighing female voices is very stirring for the next dancer’s solo (Caterina Moreno) as she restlessly throws herself into a back bend over a chair several times, then wows us with her glorious floor work that spirals and slides with great strength and ease.

A real highlight is in the final solo (Elizabeth Cocks), entrancingly lit by lighting designer Janis Cheng. We are fooled into thinking she is almost levitating as she walks slowly up the back of the dimly lit stairs. This performer has such a compelling presence as we see her face illuminated and she beckons her arms toward the light, she waves, followed by a look of disappointment.  Time is frozen as she is trying to tell this story using her hands and miniature finger movements.  The airy music, low light and minimal choreography are all one in their sorrow, and everyone else is dimly lit still sleeping below.

They`ve moved into another realm as a tear jerking version of Auld Lang Syne` plays, —  it is traditionally known as being played at midnight on New Year’s Eve to bid farewell to the old year.   

The final image of one performer holding up her limp seemingly lifeless partner in an embrace is a haunting lasting memory from this piece.  The mere thought that someone could be capable of breaching our human right to live out the course of our lives is so scary, so harrowing, and so real.

A captivating work from Elizabeth Cocks with a solid backbone and great potential.  A prospective collaboration of movement, light and sound. I look forward to seeing future developments.

We`ll be with you shortly by EKC, A new full length show and first development of ideas stemming from their NZ Fringe season of  The Way We Wilt.  Choreographed by Elizabeth Cocks, and performed with Stela Dara, Caterina Moreno, Anna Hosking, Aylin Atalay and Elizabeth Cocks. 

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Presents us with an intensely human reflection

Review by Sarah George 07th Jul 2024

At a time when the world is reeling with the potential and real impacts of AI We’ll be with you shortly presents us with an intensely human reflection on how we might face death in 3024. The show unfolds as a series of ‘physical speeches’ performed by five gifted young dancers. Set in the imagined year of 3024, the show invites audiences into a world where technology dictates the timing of one’s journey to the next life.

The stage is stark, with only a central set of stairs, and soon we are interrupted by a latecomer to the theatre. ‘How rude’ my companion mutters beside me as this person noisily arrives in the front row apologising to the audience. As is turns out, she is surprised and annoyed at having received the message to report to the departure lounge and joins the dancers after expressing her disappointment at having thought she paid for the deluxe package. 

The choreography, a blend of athleticism and emotional depth, unfolds through three compelling solos and a poignant duet. Each dancer brings a unique perspective to their portrayal, navigating themes of acceptance, defiance, humour, and profound introspection.

Stela Dara performs the first solo and is clearly pissed off at this interruption to her life, her fractured, jarring movements which break into moments of fluidity and grace, are in stark contrast to the calmness of her surrounding characters. 

The passionate and playful duet with Aylin Atalay and Anna Hosking that follows is a joyous jig of a dance that conjures up images of a more mature couple who have lived a wonderful life together and seem ready to accept their fate after a life of love and delight. 

A particularly striking solo by Caterina Moreno begins with her shedding her socks – a seemingly mundane act imbued with symbolism of readiness and determination. She sublimely oozes on and off a chair before slithering to the floor. Her fluid movements and circular phrases give a sense of calm and bravery in the face of the inevitable. Technically strong and stunning to watch, I look forward to seeing her perform in the future.

The last solo is by the choreographer herself Elizabeth Cocks. Her flaming red hair a crown upon her statuesque presence at the top of the stairs. Her movements are contained mostly on the spot, and her gorgeously expressive arms and hands reminded me of an early Louise Lecavalier. A sure sign of wonderful things to come. 

Tying together different styles can be challenging but Elizabeth Cocks has done well to frame the vignettes with the supporting characters and theme. I love the way she provides enough of a narrative, but not too much, to give the audience a thread with which they can stitch together the ‘physical speeches’ but still use their own imagination and have their own interpretation. Were the supporting characters on the stairs representing toi whakairo at the waharoa of the marae? Or were they simply four onlookers contemplating the scene?

The sound design by Sibel Atalay was appropriately futuristic, stark and at times inviting. 

We’ll be with you shortly was part of the Pōneke Festival of Contemporary Dance curated by Footnote New Zealand Dance and hosted by Te Auaha. This was a fantastic week of performances and residencies – such a great initiative to keep the performers and audiences busy over winter. 

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