Kiss the Sky - The New Zealand Dance Company
29 June 2017, Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland
Reviewed by Lauren Sanderson
Artistic director Shona McCullagh has created a work of art as The New Zealand Dance Company deliver a stellar performance in their extraordinary contemporary dance work Kiss the Sky. Combining three outstanding choreographers from Aotearoa, Korea and Australia, the powerful piece takes place during Matariki and explores the seasons, the southern sky and time.
Korean choreographer KIM Jae Duk brings sharp, swift movements to the stage with a unique work titled Sigan (time). Drawing from themes of meditation and attack, the dynamic piece features controlled movements with moments of fluidity. The choreography starts off quite robotic, however as the performance went on and the pace quickened the sequences became more energised and certainly more challenging. The focus that the dancers had to maintain was outstanding and their ability to weave in and out of different rhythms, hitting each singular beat was phenomenal. The lighting paired with the dynamic score built up of traditional Korean instruments really brought the piece to life. This is the first time The New Zealand Dance Company has commissioned a Korean choreographer and it was not only visually but technically flawless.
The night sky filled the stage in multi-award-winning choreographer Sue Healey’s work The Seasons Retouched, which focuses on the different seasons and the change in weather. Set to Composer Max Richter’s beautiful score Recomposed, the beautiful score was performed live on stage by the talented 13-piece chamber group Blackbird Ensemble. Taking centre stage alongside the dancers was lead violinist Amalia Hall, who performed an incredible violin solo that raised hairs on skin and sent shivers down the spine, it was truly touching. The movement was a contrast to the previous piece, with the gestures being more fluent and light. The folk-like motions perfectly merged with Shaun Madgwick’s stunning projections, immersing the audience and allowing us to connect and follow the seasonal transformations. Madgwick’s huge globe projection was a highlight; it first appeared at the back of the stage and later transferred to the floor, to where the dancers stood in a circle. Each holding a corner of a parachute-like fabric they flung their arms in the air to which the parachute followed, transferring the projection of planet earth to the sky. This continued for a couple of minutes until the globe returned to the floor and began to spin. This sequence was mesmerising and captured the essence of global warming, allowing us to question what we can do to help our planet.
Australian choreographer Stephanie Lake’s If Never Was Now reflects the beauty and brutality of the natural world. The movement is eccentric and imaginative as the dancers, dressed in aluminous pink trousers and nude tops, travel and immerse themselves in white polystyrene beads. The sounds of their feet dragging along the beads adds to the effect of the brutality in the world, however the little white balls also represent the beauty as snow falls from the sky upon the dancers.
Kiss the Sky is a diverse magical experience and no one movement is the same. It is filled with multiple duets, stunning solo performances, dynamic group choreography and faultless travel routines. From tight synchronised movements to fluid floor sequences, the inspiring works alongside the eye-catching lighting and spectacular scores grab your attention from start to finish.