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Dance Review: Tomo at TAPAC

On a cold winter night in Auckland it can take some force of will to leave one’s house to sample some culture, but it is often worth it. In this case, the venue was the wonderful TAPAC theatre which was deliciously warm and welcoming and proved itself to be the perfect space for Atamira Dance Company’s Tomo.

The work, as described by choreographer Gabrielle Thomas, represents birth and death and the space in between. In essence what has been created is a very intimate and compelling journey through life.

Thomas’s choreography looks fresh and dynamic, but also includes subtle references to traditional Māori dance. The movements are fluid, seductive, and yet at times deliberately disjointed or confronting. It is all designed to show the variety of life experiences – the good, the bad, the hurt, the joy. 

All of this is brought to life by a cast of highly skilled dancers who bring a sense of wairua and care to each set piece. 

It is not always possible to ascribe exact meaning to any piece of contemporary dance as each of us interprets it in our own way. 

For me, Tomo embodies a journey through life with both challenges and delights. I imagined I was seeing romance, birth, addiction, self-absorption and ego, grief, and in one tantalising moment, one human being caring for another with their infirmity or possibly old age. 

Other moments were perhaps more abstract – such as when three dancers used their costumes to emulate peacocks flashing their tail feathers. I may have misinterpreted it completely but it was a very special moment. 

In the end, this work seemed to show the human life cycle as literally that, something that goes full circle and ends in a return to nature with some kind of rebirth. That rebirth could be interpreted literally I suppose or it could simply be molecules returning to nature.

Who knows? But this particular dance journey was a heartwarming one that helped push away the chill on a moonlit winter night. 

TOMO

Performing in Auckland, Hamilton, Whangarei August 2023

Tickets and information

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