Side B - Trip the Light Dance Collective
27 February - 3 March 2018, Basement Theatre, Auckland
Reviewed by Tru Paraha
Tempest - by Perri Exeter
Dancers: Callum Sefo, Georgia Elson, Sione Fataua, Perri Exeter, Taitanyk Toniu, Polly Manu'ariki Nofo'akifolau, Renee Richards
Bodies strewn in grey across a black surface pulse with tension, calm, release. The theatre feels claustrophobic. A central dancer (Sefo) who re-positions throughout the piece, extrudes with controlled fluidity into and out of a space that cannot contain his force. The room is entirely too small for a work that seeks to travel and expand with bodies seen and unseen. A notion of gathering storms pervades, represented through contemporary partnering, solos, staggered unisons, and a single utterance. At times, there are hints of a more menacing social commentary. Seated off-centre, dancers become percussive, moanan, breath exiting lungs in a collapsing sasa. This becomes Exeter's substantial work of the evening aided by committed performances from a diverse, young cast.
Uso - by Joash Fahitua
Dancers: Taitanyk Toniu, Sione Fataua
An arguable crowd-pleaser, the second piece features an indulgent, yet comedic battle that integrates character voice-over, krump, slap dances, mimed actions, clapping games, sound FX, and showy one-upmanship. Here, wrestling and virtuosic play limn the bonds of boyish competitiveness. In the programme notes, Fahitua reflects on how he and his brother would be left by their mother to complete chores each Saturday morning. These texts helpfully entangle choreographic thinking with one's embodied experience of the show. The fiesty duo generate a specific kind of Samoan humour revealing an implicit cultural narrative (behind which also lurks darker, more complex emotions).
Norcross Pavement - by Joash Fahitua
Dancers: Sione Fataua, Callum Sefo, Otis Donovan Herring
This complexity emerges gradually through a trio work with dancers whose presence becomes most compelling in the simplicity of a walk off-stage. There is a steady focus during nuanced, partnering scores that brush uncomfortably close to roof and walls. The agitations of these resilient bodies at times seduce with the tautological pathos of the music. The men recline in a row, feet on floor, knees to sky. From a surrendering stillness they roll and unfold under abrasive blue lights. The piece pays tribute to a close friend of the choreographer and we observe again, how narrative and memoir is expressed with gradations of sentiment.
Trouble in Paradise - by Perri Exeter
Dancers: Georgia Elson, Taitanyk Toniu, Perri Exeter, Otis Donovan Herring
Red lights, red lips, - a singular colour evoking heresy, sexuality, heightened feeling. The dance renders a mish-mash of lip-synced dialogue, discordant gestures and vocabularies, not unlike the cultural milieu of an urban metropolis. This Bob Fosse-inspired ensemble quickly succumbs to heteronormative theatricality and clichéd gender relations. A blonde, twin-set of ladies in red dresses and roguish, dark gents in matching suspenders turn playful and kooky at a glance; sneaky twerks, slapstick facials, heart-shaped arm motifs, coy flirtations and flippant rejections. In a surprise moment a face is slapped, raising an ethical eyebrow toward such seemingly benign actions given our close scrutiny of interpersonal violence. Troubling indeed.