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Gnarly Feet

By Lyne Pringle

As some of New Zealand’s female contemporary dance pioneers continue to dance into middle age, I took the opportunity to talk to some of them about their practice and the physical changes that inform their definition of themselves as dancers.

Now in her forties, Lisa Densem has danced with renowned German choreographer Sasha Waltz for several years.

These days she is less interested in technique and feels that people can hide behind this, so she is now more interested in whether people reveal something with their dance.

“I don’t go to a class these days as I tend to slip into old habits: I am looking for the difference between ‘commanding’ the body and ‘feeling’ the body in practice.” 

Kilda Northcott continues to dance into her 50s with leading New Zealand choreographers, as well as developing work for her company Bipeds Productions.

What does it means to be a dancer? “There is something embedded and imbued in the flesh/bone and mind of a person that never goes away...."

Jenny De Leon is a walking miracle; she has had nine knee and hip operations and spent seven years on crutches. Despite this, now in her 50s, she continues to dance and develop work for her company, Poyema, as well as experiencing “marriage, babies and divorce”. Her Master of Health Science degree entitled Dance and Stillness was a first-ever [for New Zealand] thesis-choreography, which she describes as a “phenomenological hermeneutic inquiry into the experience of stillness.” She has two children and lives in Auckland. "My dance is my prayer. It is my way of celebrating, crying, talking, hoping; it is not separate from my life.”

Read the full article (Iss. 12) Gnarly Feet

Gnarly Feet

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