Wired - Okareka Dance Company
24-28 January 2018, Q Theatre, Auckland
Reviewed by Lauren Sanderson
Okareka Dance Company’s highly anticipated new work Wired was brought to life at Q Theatre’s Rangatira auditorium. The dance work that has been in development for three years celebrates Māori culture and identity by examining the idea of being human in a chaotic world, exploring relationships and connections, along with space and earth.
A key part of the performance was the vast cube, representing space and earth, located in the centre of the stage, acting as a portal for the stars of Matariki who came to earth to take human form, losing themselves in the mystery of human experience. John Verryt’s set design was cleverly designed as it took the audience on a journey of discovery and gave structure to the beautifully chaotic choreography.
Choreographers Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete collaborated with Sarah Foster-Sproull to create intricate yet frisky movement. It was evident that the dancers (Claire O’Neil, Aaron Burr, Rose Philpott, Jag Popham, Aloalii Tapu, Oliver Carruthers, Taniora Motutere and Celina Torres) contributed to devising the piece as each gesture was so specific to each performer. Each dancer told a different story by taking you on a unique journey.
There was a variety of sequences ranging from powerful solos, intense duets and exciting ensembles, each weaving in and out of one another as the dancers exchanged partners. The movement was sharp and precise yet relaxed and playful, which was visually stimulating and demonstrated the dancer’s agility.
The dancers’ movements inside the cube were restricted and felt as if they were trying to escape the chaos. Once they had escaped the confinement of the cube the choreography was extremely dynamic as they climbed, swung and jumped over it. They pushed the boundaries of the human body as they used each other as props. Claire O’Neil perched on Jag Popham’s shoulders with a frilly skirt over his face, gave the impression that she was extremely tall, while Aaron Burr caught the eye of the audience as his impressive strength stole the show. Climbing the cube he hung upside down holding O’Neil by her arms, bringing her slowly off of the ground and swinging her back and forth.
Eden Mullholland’s music was light yet dramatic and captured the essence of chaos. As the score shifted the atmosphere changed and the choreography became more playful, the dancers’ intensity dropped as smiles formed on their faces and at that moment it felt like we were part of the performance dancing with friends.
Vanda Karolczak’s lighting design was simple and complimentary of Verryt’s unique set. Tanya Carlson’s costumes were cleverly constructed with colours matching dance partners, highlighting the key elements of Wired - togetherness, partnership and relationships.
Wired achieved everything it set out to do. It connected the audience with each other, with the dancers and the space. But it also connected the audience with dance itself, which is something that everybody should experience.