If I was pushed to decide between classical ballet and contemporary dance, I guess I might say contemporary dance, but on the other hand, there is nothing worse than seeing 3rd rate choreography of the falling on the floor, rolling about, then standing up and waving the arms about variety. It was therefore nice to see for the second year running (for me) the young talent at the New Zealand School of Dance refrain from what I see as lazy choreographic space fillers.
The annual showcase of works choreographed by the school’s third year students is a fantastic opportunity for them to show what they can do and get an opportunity to present their works to a paying audience. This year’s evening was called “The Residents”, and featured works by 10 young budding choreographers. Each piece was danced in the same set, a room with a fireplace (for exits and entrances), a stair case leading nowhere, a door and a window. A nice feature of this season is that the set and was designed and lit by students and graduates of Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School, and the costumes made by students studying costume design, also giving them exposure for their work. The costumes were varied – short crinolines, pantaloons and in one piece, long skirts for two male dancers that could be shaped and manipulated into caccoon like shapes.
Naturally, the works are very varied, but each piece showed an energy and enthusiasm that has to be applauded regardless. There were a couple that seemed very derivative of things I have seen, but it is a bit harsh to lobby this criticism at such a group who are in the first stages of their dance careers. Equally, there were some really nice and inventive aspects to some of the work, such as the last piece, Fasnet, set in part to Tongan chants and choreographed by James Wasmer and ‘Born Under a Bad Star’ by Roymata Holmes, which integrated aspects of traditional dance from the Cook Islands. It was also good to see some ‘risks’ being taken, such as the duet in ‘Pink!ish’, choreographed by Eliza Sanders, in which two male dancers were locked in a kiss while dancing.
Amongst the dancers, I spotted Demi-Jo Manolo who I saw with Java Dance the other week. She is definitely someone to watch – an energetic dancer with great spirit.
All in all a really enjoyable evening and an event to plan for next year as well. You can read about the school here and also view a short preview of the piece. Picture credits from the same website.