Short + Sweet Dance Gala 2017
10 September 2017, TAPAC, Auckland
Reviewed by Lauren Sanderson
Short + Sweet Festival returned this month to deliver an outstanding collection of dance works. The Gala took place at TAPAC and showcased the raw talent that the Pacific has to offer.
Xavier Breed’s piece Pou kicked off the night. A well-structured ensemble piece with Pacific influences throughout. Based on the pillars of a Samoan Fale (house), the piece explores family, culture, morals and values as well as history and genealogy. The eleven dancers remained strong from start to finish, the quick-paced travel sequences and multiple sharp formations brought energy to the stage and made for an exciting start to the night.
In contrast to the opening piece Emma Cosgrave's Endure is a controlled solo, which explores the uncertainty when moving from one place to another. Cosgrave glided across the stage with grace and great determination. The movement was delicate yet erratic and portrayed an unknown journey in between spaces.
Blue Bayou, choreographed by Lulu French, is a Pacific interpretation of Linda Ronstadt's classic. Dasha Tarasova, Maile Giffin and Lulu French create a calm presence on the stage as they move gracefully to traditional Pacific music. Their gestures were perfectly in sync and were complimented by their flowing blue gowns.
Xavier Breed’s other work World Wide Web was fast-paced and chaotic as seven dancers weaved in and out of each other. The contact work was visually pleasing as they ventured into an interlinked universe.
Jas Ofamo'oni's Pores questions how we activate our skin. The unique piece caught my eye as two dancers wearing headlights appeared under a pod made from elastic. Their contorted gestures moved in time with the sound of their breath and water droplets until they escaped the realms of the pod.
Meaghan Rowe’s balletic number All Delighted People truly was delightful! The large ensemble of dancers had flawless technique which was brought to life by the live piano performance from Meagan Rowe.
$TORM choregraphed by Tekeepa Aria stole the show. It was a magnificent blend of voguing, sass, attitude and seduction. It radiated so much energy that even the audience were hollering and throwing some shapes of their own.
Odessa Grayson’s duet W(HOLE) draws on the Greek myth of soulmates and separation. Wearing all white Jared Peeters and Anna Ennis captivated the audience by their mesmerizing contact work that almost looks like they are one.
Vivian Aue's Ma / Ma merges dance and theatre together. Three Pacific women of three generations take to the stage and begin to share stories of the past. Aue's mother, Ngametua Aue sings while the two younger women listen in awe – just like the audience.
Oliver Carruthers’ choreography in his solo piece Not was brilliant. The playful piece almost took on the persona of a wind-up doll. At the start the movement was disjoined, but as the so called toy came to life, the movement became frantic and energetic as he found his feet.
Doing it for the girls is Gemma-Jayde Naidoo’s piece XYUS, which takes ownership of societies stereotypical female identities. Seven powerful female dancers bring strength, sass and a little satire to the stage.
Vivian Aue's second work AUE explores a provocative Pacific perspective of sex and sexuality. The contemporary piece may have been the most powerful piece of the evening as it delves into sexuality, sexual intercourse and ancient sex ceremonies. The choreography was the perfect blend of harsh and brash yet soft and gentle.
The diverse works of the evening not only demonstrates the range of talent across New Zealand but also their passion for the arts, by coming together to give their time and creativity to celebrate the art of short storytelling through dance.