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Search Engine - Footnote New Zealand Dance
21 May 2018, Globe Theatre, Palmerston North

Reviewed by Tania Kopytko

Footnote New Zealand Dance came to Palmerston North with a full Search Engine programme, comprising two performances; a matinee for schools, an evening performance, as well astwo masterclasses for young dancers. After a long break, this is the company’s second visit to Palmerston North in two years. It is good to see the local response growing as we get to know the company. The performances had to shift to the larger Globe 1 Theatre to fit the larger audience.  

The three works in Search Engine combine to provide a sophisticated, complicated and thought provoking programme of contemporary dance. The programme was particularly aimed at young people but the dance content did not compromise. In both the matinee and evening performances the young people (from late primary to secondary) sat transfixed. Those that had attended the workshops were clearly excited to see the performance of repertoire they had tried and the skills of the dancers they had met.

The students were fascinated by the show! They thought it was very dramatic and a bit different to what they expected… They really enjoyed the second dance with the wardrobe and email effects. We noticed the dancers had great energy, balance, coordination, flexibility and perfect timing! Thanks so much for having us - it was a great experience for all.” Winchester Street Primary School

For all of us there, no matter what age, Search Engine gave us the opportunity to search ourselves and think about our modern world. How much are we influenced by social, digital or technological/scientific constructs? What is this world we have come to and what will it be in the future? Where is “our self” in this?  It is youth who face the greatest challenges and dilemmas in this increasing “influenced” world as they strive to find and be themselves.

The first work, Night Swim, by Rose Philpott is a duet with a fascinating movement vocabulary. Glimpses of the poseur, awkward nerdiness, swiping away friends or information and the delicate negotiating of friendship; there is much to see in this work. Performed by Georgia Beechy-Gradwell and Adam Naughton they very articulately and confidently take us through developing scenarios. 

Home Sweet Home choreographed by Tupua Tigafua, is a more human search for who we are. Reaching back to family members through fragments of letters,phrases were presented beautifully through the AV and lighting design of Charley Draper. The choreography illuminated the cultural diversity and individual character of the three dancers, Joshua Faleatua, Tyler Carney and Anu Khapung. It was joyous and life affirming.

Dys-Connect by Lauren Langlois was an exciting and precise ensemble work, set in a dark “guarded dystopian world”. The rich, sculptural movement imagery suggested many aspects of our present and/or future modern world. Were these people controlled or could they be clones? How hard is finding freedom? The work invited us to think about possibilities. It was augmented by superb AV and lighting by Draper.

Search Engine is “prompted by the company’s desire to seek out and nurture up-and-coming talent in and for NZ.” This has been accomplished in this programme, as it has brought together young choreographers of great talent. Search Engine shows the confidence of dancers who have worked together for a while, each with their own characters they all work as a finely tuned articulate ensemble. This Footnote New Zealand Dance season shines the search engine confidently on an accomplished company.

Search Engine plays until 16 June.

See Theatreview reviews (Jo Thorpe, Hannah Molloy, Kim Buckley & Alana Dixon-Calder)

Search Engine by Footnote NZ Dance

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