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Dance Review: Stage of Being

Stage of Being is a new offering from the New Zealand Dance Company, an outfit that has a rich legacy. This production keeps that legacy alive, and sadly had just a short two night run in Auckland.

It consisted of two very different pieces:

LittleBits and AddOns 

Chreographer – Tupua Tigafua 

This piece beings with a girl dressed in a white lace dress and a dark blouse. There is silence as she wanders around placing objects on the stage. When the music begins, it is instrumental, with gentle guitar riffs. A large piece of fabric crawls across the stage. And so begins a whimsical piece of dance with a bucolic feel to it. 

The performers are dressed in rustic clothing, and display a natural masculinity and femininity. There’s definitely a rural feel to this and a confident sensuality. The men and women are graceful and dance superbly. Over the piece we see vignettes that are witty, sometimes frivolous, other times deeply meaningful. What seems to emerge is a complex relationship between humanity and nature. But as soulful as this is, there is a sense of exploitation of nature and a rapaciousness in humanity.

But LittleBits and AddOns doesn’t lecture, it is simply a beautifully intriguing piece of work that reflects something back about ourselves. 

Made in Them 

Choreographers – Xioa Chao Wen and Xin Ji 

This was much more dramatic and definitely gloomier. A lighting gantry hung low over a dark set. A bolt of lightning is accompanied by a roll of thunder. We see a body lying centre stage. 

This is a dystopian piece, with a very sci-fi vibe. The movements of the dancers are robotic, co-ordinated, almost manic. What unfolds is a masterful tale of uniformity, suffocation, and a desire to fit in. One lone holdout eventually gets caught up in this stark clinical world. But do they remain? 

Made in Them is a superb and exciting piece, replete with energetic industrial music and sparse set. The costumes are uniforms with black impenetrable helmets that take individuality and identity away. Themes of exploitation and violence run throughout it, and there is a cult like tribalism on display, but also, there is a sense of restlessness among the characters that hints at rebellion and a desire for freedom. As with LittleBits and AddOns, the choreography was excellent, and the dancers magnificent. 

With both of these works the New Zealand Dance Company has brought together seasoned performers and expert choreographers to deliver an exciting and enthralling night of dance theatre. 

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