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Review – I Don’t Wanna Dance Alone – Jang Huddle - Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival

 


Loft, Q Theatre

Auckland

16 March 2024


Creator and Director: Cindy Yunha Jang-Barlow 

 
Reviewed by Ichiro Harada

Photographs by JieYing Cai and Brandon Lin


As part of the Auckland Arts Festival, I Don’t Wanna Dance Alone 혼자 춤추고 싶지 않아  at Loft, Q Theatre was a delight to watch. I was pleased to see the New Zealand Asian community represented in the Festival. South Korean background choreographer and director Cindy Yunha Jang-Barlow leads the Asian Community Contemporary Dance Group with 12 dancers from different Asian backgrounds aged from 14 to 47. Cindy Yunha explored a personal narrative of her upbringing and represented Asian voices in contemporary dance, including theatrical elements, in this 50-minute show.

The show begins with the lead character sitting in her own room in the corner downstage right, reflecting on her journey back in 2004, as the audience begins to take their seats.  She starts her dance alone on stage, and other members join in one by one. The lead artist carried a sense of calmness and serenity throughout the performance. In contrast, the ensemble members were full of energy and wore personalised garments that emphasised their individual vigour and uniqueness. The group stated that they are the New Zealand Asian society. After the first section of dance they bring tables to the stage and begin an Asian feast, commencing with a Karakia in Te Reo Maori. As an element of surprise, they invite some members of the audience to join in the feast. Cindy Yunha states “This piece delves into my personal narrative, reflecting on my upbringing and the yearning for greater representation of Asian voices in contemporary dance within traditional theatre and dance spaces.” This theatrical interlude explored themes of belonging, making a new home, sense of community and support, as well as identity and culture.

The piece carried on with more ensemble sections of dance with nostalgic music, which was composed by Rewind Fields-Callum Lee. At the end of the show, live guitar music was played on stage with the lead artist downstage centre, where she began her dance alone. This time, she was not alone, but with some of the ensemble members surrounding her. At the curtain call, dancers on stage brought audience members back on stage creating a freestyle dance party – and a nod to the title I Don’t Wanna Dance Alone!

I loved the energy on stage. Although the movements and choreography were simple, as the majority of the cast members were performing contemporary dance for the first time, the dancers used their whole bodies to capture the audience's attention and absolutely entertained throughout. There seemed to be many friends and family in the audience, which supported the atmosphere and relaxed the dancers. I loved the theme of joy of dancing is for everyone and this was plain to see on all the dancers’ faces.  I was impressed with the presence everyone brought to the stage and the sense of unity and passion they felt for the show.  I hope to see them grow as performers and dancers as we need more Asian voices represented in our Arts community in Tamaki Makaurau. 했어요 jal haesseoyo, well done!

 

Photographs by JieYing Cai and Brandon Lin

Review – I Don’t Wanna Dance Alone – Jang Huddle - Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival

 
 
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