The Rebel Pink - Footnote New Zealand Dance
28 April 2017, Hannah Playhouse, Wellington
NZ Dance Week
Reviewed by Leah Maclean
During New Zealand Dance Week 2017, an annual event established by DANZ, Footnote New Zealand Dance hauled out their bright pink, custom made dance floor and performed The Rebel Pink once again for Wellington audiences.
The Rebel Pink was the first show of the year for the company, performed with an entirely new cast. Plus we were spoiled with the incredible talents of a live musician, drummer Tom Scrase and vibrant lighting and set design by Marcus McShane. The show was comprised of three original works by female choreographers; Holly Newsome, Eliza Sanders and Nancy Wijohn, each bringing their own fresh touch to the programme. This cycle of Footnote dancers include Georgia Beechey-Gradwell, Tyler Carney, Joshua Faleatua, Anu Khapung and Adam Naughton; a group that showed great cohesion and fluidity in their premiere piece.
Holly Newsome is new to the choreographic world, having recently graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance. Her work Sweet Salt opens with three dancers clad in tartan, sprawled on the floor. From the floor they launch into big bold movements, kaleidoscopic patterns, excellent mirroring, beautiful long limbs and pointed toes, and a consistent series of facial morphing. The Hannah is an intimate theatre and there is a slight feeling of uneasiness when the performers make a concerted effort to seek eye contact with the audience – Tyler Carney is one of the most determined performers to achieve this. Sweet Salt is a crazed and bubbly piece which sits perfectly well on the pop of pink floor. The crafty interchange of music, movement and enthusiasm is a pleasure to witness.
I have started to become familiar with Eliza Sanders and her work – it’s random, a little bit ludicrous, fun and indeed, original. Not All Who Launder Are Washed is the embodiment of Sanders’ evolving style; the piece contains one of her staple techniques, word play. The dancers are in some kind of spoken word battle, blurting out random – sometimes nonsensical – words and shaping them into new ones, partnered with bursts of erratic movements. While this happens, Anu Khapung begins a slow-motion amble across the stage. Her journey lasts the duration of the piece and ends in an anti-climactic flourish on the floor. Joshua Faleatua steals the show with movements which signal his hip hop background. He propels his body from the floor, reminiscent of breakdancing, twisting and turning in the air around the feet of his fellow performers. It is an incredible act to watch.
The final bill is an outstanding duet between Khapung and Faleatua. The Silent Partner by Nancy Wijohn is a mesmerising and evocative piece, complemented by Tom Scrase and his haunting musical play; chimes, whistles and vocal distortion. There is a beautiful chemistry between the dancers as they imitate and glide elegantly around and with one another. They are telling the story of a developing relationship and it’s periods of uncertainty and connection. Both performers are strong and calculated; one almost doesn’t want to blink at the risk of missing something profound. For me The Silent Partner is the highlight of the show.
The Rebel Pink is a strong start to 2017; Footnote and Malia Johnston (curator) are to be congratulated for this fun and accessible work. Tom Scrase was a lovely addition to the creation, his talent and bright enthusiasm an absolute joy on the stage – fingers crossed for live music and more bright colours in future!