Liminal. New Zealand School of Dance

3rd Year Contemporary Dance students choreographic season
10 May 2024. Te Whaea Theatre, Wellington
reviewed by Jennifer Shennan

We are seated in the round which proves the right choice for this attractive program, and effective use is made of the four aisles that serve as overflow performance space, or entrances and exits to and from the central area. There is stylish costuming in shades of white, designed in an impressive collaboration with student colleagues in the Design course at Te Whaea.

Liminal comprises eight works individually choreographed but linked into a continuous sequence that moves forward but also allows echoes back to images in earlier sections. This pleasing continuity is partly due to the same costumes being worn throughout—smart upstanding collars, a layer added here or removed there, masks worn (though a pity perhaps that the golden rule never to actually touch a mask while it’s being worn onstage, since that immediately destroys illusion, is not followed).

In the dances there are themes of friendship and camaraderie, with a good opener, In The Making, by Anna Hosking, followed by Please Let Me Remain with thoughts on sisterhood by Aylin Atalay (with music by Sibel Atalay, presumably a sibling?).

Natural? by Lila Brackley takes on themes of unease and uncertainty, with masks involved. Primo by Sophie Sheaf-Morrison invokes the atmosphere of an airport with people coming and going in chaotic haste.

Anya Down continues with an urgency of atmosphere in Hardly Working. A/Effect by Audrey Stuck leads into Accidental Renaissance by Aleeya McFadyen-Rew, with stronger bouts of competition growing out of play.

In the closing piece by Trinity Maydon, Worn Shoe, determined strides are taken by all the dancers in all directions, wave after wave of walking patterns that build to a committed cadence of the program.

These dancers are clean and clear movers, with open and varied facial expressions so we feel we meet them all in turn as they move through the light. Although there are no specific references to the time and places of life in Aotearoa New Zealand, the performance is impeccably prepared and each piece segues easily into the next. Overall the effect is gained of a group of friends, enjoying each others’ company, playing then competing, aware of possible danger but in the end uniting as a single supportive group. Holly Newsome as choreographic mentor has made a flowing and attractive sequence of the students’ work, with welcome collaboration with Design department.

One wonders if there could be further collaboration with the Classical Dance stream at the same school, since Ballet too needs to encourage new choreography. These emerging dance -makers are earning their school’s motto—Kia kōrero te katoa o te tinana. Make the whole body do the talking.

Jennifer Shennan, 12 May 2024

Featured image: Aleeya McFadyen-Rew and Sophie Sheaf-Morrison in In the Making. New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season, 2024. Photo: © Stephen A’Court

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