The Cost of Arms & Legs - Dance Plant Collective
1 - 4 March 2018, Studio One Toi Tū, Auckland
Auckland Fringe Festival
Reviewed by Tru Paraha
Rituals of Similarity - by Brittany Kohler and Natasha Kohler
Dancers styled in black and spots unravel a dance of uncanny pairings and siamese intuitions. White mannikin heads designated “Tash” and “Brit” emplace upon a white plinth. The duo pause, stroke false heads, see us seeing them. They take their time, belying the frenetic dancing to come. Eyes contact the other, arms about waists in backward slow-walks, circling. Hands on skulls / open faced / head-to-head / they motion and stray with secret collaboration. The dancers neck-brace and hug, push and bear weight. Similar in body-type, hair colour, facial features, they share the same last name. A male voice speaks of reality TV.
Back on back the couple quick-change into maroon outfits. Seated next to heads-on-stools tagged: most likely, least likely, we hope it’s a game. A whiteboard wheels in bearing post-it stickers with names of all in attendance. I notice “Tru” and think (that’s me?) audibly linked to “start a new religion,” categorised as least likely. The male voice-over announces these amusing commentaries, fated to random persons. A repetitive handgame accelerates into futility till the beeping of a smartphone indicates an end - one of many eccentricities. Soon there is chaos.
Cha(order)s - by Bella Wilson
Dancers: Brittany Kohler, Natasha Kohler, Bella Wilson, Jaz Yahel
Sound design: James Risbey
It begins by attending to the space as if turning a skeleton key to unknown rooms. The sound, which is particularly strong in this piece, becomes pervasive with levels that creep or shudder into bodily chambers. Styled in shades of grey, dancers face outwards to our dark city revealed through windowpanes. They become both frame and framed with shifts of focus, incremental movements, a window opened mere inches. We catch a breeze and remember our flesh. Treading feet, achilles, calves de-compose behind a white divider, as in a magic show. A body is auctioned for its parts, its excellence marked by a pen and ironic sales pitch. Octopus hand comes to life. Twin dialogues recite across a troubled table.
There is cutting with scissors, paper slicing into shards. A woman in black bends deep over restless limbs. Later, deadly precision and release force her arches over and over. A pair becomes a trio, quietly facing-off as the solo grows rampant. The last straw is offered to the crowd, a measuring tool giving exact distances between fingers. And now a speedy chair dance, clean and sharp in its logic. Corrupted solos loop back to meditative pairings, where human heads are held again - something mysterious contained within them.
Situated within the gallery whitespace, this collective have created an aesthetic experience that is refreshingly abstract and skillfully composed. From the personable, pre-show hosting (including some obligatory housekeeping) to the offer of tea at the end, this event reveals an unpretentious generation of artists who have cultivated simple performance rituals alongside intricate dance experiments.