New Dance Group - ChoreCo 2020
Footnote New Zealand Dance and New Zealand Fringe Festival
10 March 2020
Circa Theatre, Wellington
Reviewed by Mona Williams
Under the auspices of Footnote New Zealand Dance five selected freelance dancers, worked for three weeks with two talented choreographers, Josie Archer and Kosta Bogoievski to mount a spirited, richly varied, engagingly empathetic work. This creative amalgam of improvisational collaboration among the dancers steered by the envisioned details of the choreographers, could easily have been a work that failed both the demands of spontaneity and of prescribed direction. On the contrary, it delivered both.
Having read the script/score silently on stage the dancers swirled, stepped, froze, clapped out of sync, merged into moving bodies, balanced, slid, strode relentlessly, employed percussive rhythms on the floor, arranged tableaux; then displayed mechanized movements which morphed into frenetic, winding spectacles and angular elongated poses in moments of silence. Created second by second, their tempi varied; smooth transitions and effortless formations gave way to deliberately jarring split second displays; bursts of screams contrasted with calm passages, when with closed eyes they moved intuitively in unison. The audience burst into laughter at the exuberant wit of the dancer standing on his head, and listened to a smattering of poetry.
Clearly the dancers knew each other well, to weave sinuous layering of their flexible bodies while smoothly traversing the stage diagonally, or while constructing sculptural forms against the beat of the music. Highly disciplined, their movements were polished and sometimes elegant if the changing mood required it. Connection, diversity of movement, exits and entrances, jumps, stretches, resistance and surrender to gravity; these played against a palette of red, green, blue, and splintered coloured lighting sometimes positioned on the floor. The use of a stark white wall provided one moment to position a quirky two dimensional ‘shadowed’ presentation reminiscent of the Afternoon of a Faun fresco. When the paper planes swooped to gravity’s pull, the baskets, bulbs and the single lampshade on the stage stood symbolising our human connection and the heavy metal music announced the end, a memorable, non-narrative experience had touched me. It had demonstrated the growth inherent in being open to risk, to trusting the creative process, to trusting fellow performers and ultimately to understanding the power of Dance. Footnote New Zealand Dance is to be heartily thanked.