Dance Review: Pure
By Charles Koroneho in collaboration with Alejandro Ronceria and Brad Gledhill
October 9, 2013
Reviewed by Dr Linda Ashley
As the audience pre-show babble echoes around, has the show started? A figure is suspended, cradled in a dwelling, frozen in the gloom. Water flows in front transforming the proscenium frame into a liquid, liminal boundary. As a community we are invited in and yet strangely alienated by a loud, discordant ringing. We talk over it. The volume increases and eventually crushes conversations, the light lowers and Pure becomes the question on our minds, as Charles Koroneho prolongs the suspended animation before embarking on the first steps of the journey – the balancing act, the Tu¯a¯hu ritual trials, awakenings and tribulations.
Charles Koroneho’s one hour solo work, in his own words, occupies the theatre space. Sustained, contemplative and achingly slow, minimal ritual movement, a certain inertness of pedestrian walking with long pauses, strips back dance to its minimal bones – oddly 1970s and yet still very 21st century. His wanderings have gravitas taking us to dark places where we become who and where we are. Evocative of a larger community, hauntingly, almost intangibly, indigenously Maori, the breath, speech, chants, tilting torso are, however, also intensely personal. Koroneho dances his identity, stories and his dance history. His reflective narrative of grieving for lost loved ones and alienation in a strange land is literally bound around a walking stick.
The collaboration of Koroneho, Ronceria and Gledhill is a closely woven construction, a fabrication that fascinates and flows throughout like the earth, air, fire and water that envelop the human condition. Lighting, set, projections and production are essential elements for this production, providing a chameleon like shifting of place. We are in a dreaming, a city, in the stars and often find ourselves in hard places. Also essential are the various and anonymous soundscapes. Overlooking composers, speakers and musicians seems at odds with this intercultural fusion.
Pure aspires to transform the theatre space into a new paradigm for what we know as ‘dance’ but it is performed by a dancer, and a dignified, charismatic one. I am unsure about the new philosophy, and there are lapses where the poetry and the mythic fade as the prosaic breaks through in possibly less considered movement choices to interrupt the illusions. Nevertheless, for Tuakana, the opening platform for Tempo Dance Festival 2013, Pure lays down an elegant challenge for the audience. It is not entertainment. Viewers need to wear their thinking hats. Pure deserves this from its audiences.
Tempo Dance Festival continues to October 20.