BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

05/09/2023 - 09/09/2023

Production Details

Choreographer/Director/Creator: Amelia Butcher - under her choreography brand Jenire


Zenith is a unique contemporary dance piece that explores the process and depth of perceptions connected to achieving one’s “Zenith”. Though are they, are you, focusing your life towards something that doesn’t even exist? Are other factors unconsciously manipulating your life, creating doubt in life’s purpose? Does one’s Zenith actually exist? Zenith is broken down into 6 sections.

Are the vast perceptions society impose regarding Zenith unconsciously manipulating your life creating doubt in one’s purpose.

With Zenith we hope to create and perform a thought provoking piece with innovative choreography that has a strong intention. We aim to leave audience members in awe as well as awakening a new understanding of life’s journey. We hope to inspire reflection and initiate broader outlooks in regards to one’s future.

Booking Details –

Alexis Burns
Amedee Wilson
Annabella Milburn
Jessica Green
Ona Fraser
Amelia Butcher
Lighting Technician:
Alexander R Dickson

Contemporary dance , Dance ,

45 minutes

Dynamic, crisp movements and a kaleidoscope of emotions

Review by Lyne Pringle 06th Sep 2023

Choreographer Amelia Butcher (Jenire) presents a slick package in her work Zenith. This talented young artist likes to tackle large themes, as she did in her previous work Amygdala which focussed on the flight/fight response to trauma and anxiety.

She obviously has a healthy rapport with her company of dancers who give committed performances, bringing dynamic, crisp movements and a kaleidoscope of emotions. They are Ona Fraser, Jessica Green, Amedee Wilson, Annabella Milburn, Alexis Burns and Butcher.  Directing and choregraphing a major work as well as dancing in it is a challenge. 

Zenith explores the notion of ‘achieving one’s Zenith’ or destiny or potential. It asks the question ‘are they, are you, focussing your life towards something that doesn’t even exist?’.

It is a valid existential question and one that Butcher investigates through inventive use of the Bats Theatre mainstage. Exits and entrances, as well as the top door above the stage, are fully utilized to expand and morph the play space in order to portray the five sections of the work. Movement and scenes are symbolic, there is a constant questioning and then falling away of perceived notions.

This is another signature of Butcher’s work, a well thought out structure that teases out her theme. She has a vast and impressive toolkit of choreographic devices and utilizes these with relish. Rather than jumping from one choreographic structure to the next, lingering on one idea and fully exploring the movement potential of this would strengthen the language of the work. At present this vocabulary is hampered by sticking to tried and true commercial dance moves, albeit peppered with invention, and a forward orientated, highly presentational delivery. It is as if the whole work has been created in front of a mirror. It lifts choreographically when structures deploy a more dimensional use of space.

There is no credit in the programme for the soundscape which dominates throughout as a patchwork of snippets and longer tracks. This cacophony  is reminiscent of scores used in hip hop competition pieces, where sound dictates action with fast edits and juxtapositions. There are moments of silence, where the dancers inhabit the stage in a quizzical state. These are the most successful scenes where movement and action are untethered from the tyranny of the sound. Always choreographing to music can create a tension with the intended narrative. The work becomes about movement and presentation rather than propelling the underlying intention of the work. 
The lighting by Alexander R Dickson is inventive. At times it seems disconnected from the action on stage.

Why, if this is a work about finding ones individual zenith/purpose, are the dancers so severely cloned, another Butcher signature, in their attire and performance? How would the work read if the performers were clad in their normal clothes and allowed to be less presentational but rather much more personalized and for movement to be more internal and deeply felt? It’s ok for artists to please themselves rather than always focussed on pleasing a viewer.

It’s a full to brimming, deeply earnest evening of dance that is performed and presented with absolute integrity as this company grapples with life’s big questions. There is much to celebrate in Zenith.


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