24/01/2018 - 27/01/2018
For over a decade Okareka Dance Company has successfully delivered ground-breaking contemporary performance art, with Māori values and stories at its core. WIRED continues this journey; exploring identity, culture and the unknown.
A blend of acrobatics, dance and mythology, WIRED explores what it is to be human in a chaotic world.
Performers Claire O’Neil, Aaron Burr, Rose Philpott, Aloalii Tapu, Jag Popham, Taniora Motutere, Cece Torres Oliver Carruthers
Produced by Okareka Dance Company
Dance , Contemporary dance ,
1hr 20 mins
Review by Chloe Klein 25th Jan 2018
Q’s Rangatira stage is in the round with an extensive cube frame that unapologetically imposes itself as the focus of the room. The space is filled with a powerful karakia before the dancers enter.
Two bodies are steadfastly interwoven and their individuality is indistinguishable- the lovers Papatūānuku and Ranginui. They have an audience in the remaining performers – their children – whose viewing grows from curiosity and spectatorship, to opinion, judgement and action as they work to split them apart. Rose Philpott as Papatūānuku imparts life, asserts power, has power exerted over her, and is made dependent on those surrounding, opening up a growing excitement towards potential connections between the group.
There are a number of memorable moments of image and theme.
The dancers perched above on the frame look down on Aloalii Tapu as he “just casually stands with no deep reason” on the dirty earth – the body of his fellow performer- Tapu’s balance constantly shifting and adjusting to the moving of the dirty earth beneath him as “the earth” (Aaron Burr) strives to escape the crushing pressure in obvious discomfort. The performers open a comically packaged but sharply piercing dialogue to determine what exactly it is Tapu is doing (colonising), what it feels like (like just standing on mud), why he would or should (because now I feel connected), what it means (I’m like the Pakeha), and what next steps he should take (walk away? Sell the mud booze and muskets?). I make my own connection — Papatūānuku is dehumanised and stripped of lifegiving – by implication the land is just dirty mud. This conversation feels significantly familiar as the dancers argue whether the situation is simple or complex, and in which direction? I consider the questions, how do we relate to one another, touch one another as Pakeha and Maori (or both by what measure?)? This is especially relevant as we approach Waitangi Day.
An equally striking moment emerges as the bodies of Claire O’Neil, on the shoulders of another performer hidden by a long tulle skirt mesh together as one. O’Neil’s performance is intriguing, grounded and intentional.
Later, in a sharing of vulnerability, O’Neil is swung by the upside down Burr as he hangs from the cube above her, in an impressive (almost nerve-wracking!) display of acrobatics and strength. She narrates her experience and fields questions from the group, her stream of consciousness taking us through confidence, glee, insecurity, and confusion.
Throughout the work, the cube provides a multi-layered frame that the dancers use to weave their way skywards. Height, depth, length and breadth are contrasted in interesting ways, and the sense of risk in its height is tangible and at times is a cause for held breath. The performers carry their energy from the floor to the air, scaling and descending with strength and confidence. The cube goes on not only to itself ascend and swing, but also to tilt. It becomes itself a performer, determining where the dancers will and will not move, and creating clear barriers and distinctions between interactions. John Verryt’s set design is a highlight of the work.
Eden Mulholland’s soundscore builds a diversity of atmospheres, at times commanding, at others subtle, and fills the space with a sense of significance.
I feel the connection between ideas throughout is not always clear, although the focus on relationships is constant. There are ideas raised, but that then transition into something new before I can resonate with them, but I enjoy each section all the same. The imagery is visually rich and the performance is even richer with kinesthetic empathy.
It is the eight performers who ultimately bring this work to life. Diverse and dynamic, the combination of dancers is unexpected yet stunningly satisfying. Each performer brings their own athletic virtuosity and fluidity to the movement, all reaching and hitting slightly differently as only a group of performers each pushing their unique bodies can. The choreography travels, swings, leaps, glides and writhes and the stamina of the dancers is to be commended. Sweeping duets reveal intimate connection and partnership, and aggressive control is made natural and human. The dancers draw me into a range of emotions and states through deliberate energies as they connect, disconnect and reconnect constantly.
Wired is running at Q Theatre until Jan 28th.
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