NOW 2015 - Footnote New Zealand Dance
9 July 2015, Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre - Wellington
Reviewed by Jo Randerson
Footnote’s second series of New Original Work (NOW), premiered in Wellington last week to large crowds at Te Whaea theatre. Featuring three works from New Zealand choreographers, and one returning from the UK, it’s a stimulating fresh night from new voices which enjoyably opens up the dance form. (NB I am not reviewing from a dance background, but from my experience as a cross-disciplinary practitioner of physicalized performance.)
Natalie Maria Clark’s Revilery is first up, with a foreboding score by James Risbey. Revilery offers a tortured world, where groups silently witness momentary breakouts of individual freedom or possible madness. Power rises and falls, relationships replicate and stagnate between couples and groups; we see leaders, military lines and trends form/disband. It’s a troubled apocalyptic world of children’s songs and apologies, and while the dancers use their voices this power is secondary to the supple, acrobatic movement amongst the strong ensemble.
5ive choreographed by Jared Hemopo is an energetic, highly-fluid duo performed by Jeremy Beck and Kosta Bogoievski. KOAN music provide a dub-step score, which accompanies an intimate co-dependency of movement, shifting back and forth like seaweed and water. Swift articulation and isolated freezes create a strong fusion of hip-hop and contemporary. The short work offers a glimpse of mystical discovery between two entities, and features an intriguing, comic scene of hand puppetry.
The third work, Anna Bate’s Oomph, with music by Lucy Beeler, sets sail boldly into new waters. The piece begins in silence as dancers make sound effects for each other - Bogoievski takes to this task with wonderful confidence. The piece is initially awkward: a more traditional audience may wonder – what are these dancers doing, fully-lit, on microphones, in disposable plastic raincoats? But it’s a true testament to Bate’s vision that the dancers enter confidently into a performance style where breath, voice and movement work equally together. Dancers work without music for the first part of the work, which allows a real shift in dynamic as the piece progresses. Performers inhabit states and qualities of being, where movement and images flicker in front of us. Integrated use of technology and costume made this the strongest cross-disciplinary work of the night.
Gins and Nets closes the evening – a portrait of colonial New Zealand, full of absurd Britannia-style social rituals. Choreographer Katharina Waldner creates an enjoyable and memorable world of held tableaus, decorated with simple props which the dancers set themselves: a Southern Star features to great effect. Waldner has a great sense of timing. Performers are very comfortable working with set features and if at the beginning of the night I longed for more design elements, my wish had come true by the end. It’s great to see dance stretching out beyond loud recorded music, casual street wear and an empty stage.
The NOW 2015 program shows the dancers as a versatile and diverse company, open to new investigations. Footnote have always provided platforms for a variety of voices, and here they continue their commitment to creating pathways and platforms for emerging artists. It’s a great night out of fresh dance.