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Haybales & Chandeliers – Rebound Dance Company
24 June 2018, Lyttelton Arts Factory, Lyttelton

Reviewed by Tracey Saunders

Haybales & Chandeliers, choreographed by nine members of Rebound Dance Company under the guidance of Artistic Director Fleur de Thier is a delightfully raucous evening of dance theatre; a perfect night out for anyone who enjoys their dance with a healthy dose of humour and irreverence!

From the outset the audience become aware that they are in for an interesting evening as they’re greeted at the door by Bruce the Butcher (Dayle Hunt) ready in his slaughtering attire right down to the white gumboots, sharpening his cleaver in a most menacing manner. His butcher’s apron, emblazoned with Peter Timbs Meats, has many speculating that the programme note about the interval sausage sizzle may not be a joke.

The stage is set as for a party in a large country bar, complete with hay bales and the promised chandelier. There is a corner bar attended by George the barman (Sean James) and hostess/narrator (Jacqui Griffith) who introduces the premise of the evening. The audience are invited to observe the recently arrived and apparently well-lubricated partygoers as they navigate the social environment, much as one might watch a group of animals struggle for survival, search for a mate and negotiate herd-dynamics in their natural habitat.

Nine of the 15 dancers in the cast contributed choreography to the show. Arranged by Artistic Director Fleur de Thier (who also dances in many of the items), the full-length show features elements of line dancing, flamenco, jazz and contemporary dance, interweaved with movement characteristic of hens, roosters, cows, sheep and cats. This illustrates the parallels between the animal behaviours and those employed by the partygoers in their preening, establishing of pecking orders and displays meant to entice potential breeding partners. 

The Rebound Dance Company dancers are all aged between 40-70 years, and have no doubt witnessed many instances of the animalistic behaviours suggested in the show. They are able to bring these behaviours to life in both subtle and blatant ways for the audience to enjoy and interpret as they will.

By the end of the first half the stage is littered with feathers after a comparatively young, still fertile hen was able to produce the full quota of required eggs. While the older hens (having already been through ‘henopause’….) were chased down by Bruce the Butcher ready to contribute to the interval sausage sizzle.

The playlist for the night is similar to what you might expect to hear at a country bar or party, adding to the appeal and accessibility of the show. The Country Calendar theme song, while an unusual addition, was well suited to the sheep themed number and caused a few giggles in the audience.

The experience is complete with an interval sausage sizzle, audience members contributing a few rows to the bar hostesses’ knitting, and chases through the seating after a potential cock-fight. All in all it’s a fantastic night’s entertainment and an interesting commentary on human society and its rituals.

Haybales & Chandeliers shows at Lyttelton Arts Factory 28, 30 June & 1 July.

See Theatreview review (Dr Ian Lochead)

Haybales & Chandeliers by Rebound Dance Co.

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