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ORCHIDS to Flourish at Tempo


ORCHIDS to Flourish at Tempo

By Leah Maclean

ORCHIDS - Photo by Jocelen Janon

An orchid is an exotic flower with all manner of symbolism and mythology surrounding it. It represents love, fertility, luxury, beauty and strength. Orchids are unique, long-lasting and can thrive in environments unlike any other flower. It is this elegant flower which underlies the new dance work from Sarah Foster-Sproull (Foster Group) and her collaborators. “ORCHIDS divulges the secrets of feminine magic, exclusive languages, intuitions and lost ritualistic practices, bringing them out of the concealment of darkness and metamorphosing to serve the ‘light’.”

Foster-Sproull is living her heart’s desire in creating and staging dance work, and it is a privilege she hopes to continue for the rest of her life. In October ORCHIDS will be headlining Auckland’s Tempo Dance Festival, alongside the DANZ season of Limbs@40 and Louise Potiki Bryant’s Ngaro. “I feel excited,” says Foster-Sproull of headlining the festival, “I love Tempo as a platform… But I feel pressure. I always put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to do the best job that I can and to present my collaborators in the best possible light; but I thrive off of that.”

The concept for ORCHIDS came out of Foster-Sproull’s choreographic post-graduate research at the University of Auckland. She was looking into female representation and symbolism of women through mythology, the occult and horticultural structures. The work features seven women with varying degrees of experience in life and in dance, which Foster-Sproull explains was key to the development of the piece. ORCHIDS collaborators include Marianne Schultz, Jahra Wasasala, Katie Burton, Rose Philpott, Joanne Horbern, Tori Manley-Tapu, Grace Woollett, and Foster-Sproull’s seven year old daughter Ivy. “I really believe in the women that I work with,” says Foster-Sproull. “We’ve made a really cool thing together and I just want it to be seen by as many people as possible.”

Sarah Foster-Sproull

A dance veteran, Foster-Sproull’s experience has spanned across New Zealand and the world, her ethos very much speaks to the importance of collaboration and building and maintaining relationships.  “The process of making a dance work is a social process; it’s a community building process. A new project requires the people to form a new community and collaboration is part of that.”  ORCHIDS is a complex and rich work which has gone through multiple iterations, absorbing each new collaborator accordingly. Foster-Sproull is enthused to show audiences the final product; though she admits nothing is ever really finished. “I know myself as a creator and I know that I’ll be changing things right up until the last minute,” she explains. But change and adaption are vital to keeping a work responsive and alive, and Foster-Sproull is prepared for each night to be different. She hopes that audiences will grasp the work and be inspired to reflect on their own experiences and relationships.

Like her horticultural inspiration Foster-Sproull has flourished as a dance practitioner and continues to do so. She is half of the Footnote double bill Contrast, which premieres in late October and she will be working with the New Zealand School of Dance on their 50th Anniversary Graduation season. Not to mention her recent success as the 2017 Creative New Zealand Choreographic Fellow. Already she has big plans on how to use the fellowship, worth $100,000. From learning the ropes in dance film with Sue Healey to collaborating with artists across the globe (Fiji, Edinburgh, Singapore, Los Angeles, Australia) to experimenting with a graduate dance company in Auckland. Listing off her intentions and projects she surprises even herself with the magnitude of travel and work, but she says that it suits her and idea of creating something tangible is always an incredibly exciting venture.

ORCHIDS premieres at Q Theatre 12 & 13 October
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ORCHIDS to Flourish at Tempo

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