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Dance Review: Prime

Oct 18, 2013 Theatre


Choreographers Katie Burton, Felicity Molloy, Tia Reihana & Val Smith

Q Theatre Loft

October 17, 2013

An all-female Prime 2013 presents an X Chromosome programme. The X factor for this show contrasts with the all-male Y Chromosome that is a regular feature of Tempo’s programme, and offers an interesting challenge.


Feminine and feminist strength in Felicity Molloy’s Disarm and Tia Reihana’s Mareikura are evocatively danced by interestingly contrasting sets of dancers.

Molloy’s matriachal, auto-biographical and caring contemplations are performed by accomplished contemporary dancers at different stages of their careers. A very young Emma Kemp opens with fresh, simple but measured movement, befitting her age; captivatingly so. Distinguished and longstanding dancer, Marianne Schultz’s intense extensions have a severity and intense mindfulness. A technically fluid Tallulah Holly-Massey has softer and wider ranging phrasing. A variety of solos and group interactions follow, as befitting their own real lives. Their differences bring them together. Molloy seems to be making an emphatically anarchic and tender statement about passing on contemporary dance and other heritages from elders to following generations. The score (Josh Rutter) and a mix of Irish song provide a fitting backdrop along with a counterpoint of striking projections.

Reihana’s Mareikura also gathers wahine atua in an autobiographical dancescape, but with a different cast, dancers Jasmine Castle, Carol Smith, Hinekurani L.J. Smith and Erana Wipou-Reneti. Trained in Maori performing arts, they extend these skills into new terrains with impressive emotional impact. Reihana has an uncanny feel for finding movements that are simple, powerful and suit the age range of the dancers. Voices and movement resonate into the soul and hands wiri, adding deft brushstrokes and depth.  A woman’s nemesis, a shopping trolley shapeshifts to gather kai, travel the ocean and act as transport to find homes in different worlds.

Prime 2013 is a bipolar programme. The other two pieces, Circle in Box (Val Smith) and This Is Ours (Katie Burton) are both a heap of suspense and whimsy. Practice-led research live, direct and thoughtfully pitched, bring the audience into being the performance.

Smith and her silent, motionless ushers direct us to make a loosely formed circle on the stage. A waiting game ensues. Eventually one amiable soul walks into the circle smiling at everyone else and leaves. Suddenly lemming like everyone heads for the safety of the seats. Audience dissent is, enticingly, always an option when you take on such tests. A long stand off ensues, stage manager and tempo producer looking at us, looking at them.

Burton brings more overt, physicality and immediacy to animate us. She and dancers Georgie Goater, Shanelle Lenehan and Jessie McCall are introduced to us as they mischievously wander the stage with some signature movements eventually ending up in the audience for a lap dance! Then, some of the audience choose to return to the stage with the dancers for more amusing interaction.

Without any need for choreographer provocation, audience participation also ended the opening night in a profoundly moving karanga by the wahine whanau supporting Reihana’s work.

Prime brings personal worldviews that are caring of the next generation whilst mindful of how we reached where we are. Dancers also embrace the community that dance as an art form depends on – its audience. Choreographers take risks, managing them with aplomb. The hand that rocks the cradle is firmly in charge.


Until Oct 18



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