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Read: Magnificent Remains is a dream

Last night, as I walked into the very funky Lot 23 in Eden Terrace, I was full of anticipation about an experimental dance work called Magnificent Remains. I hadn’t seen any pre-publicity for the show, nor had I read the programme. With dance, I often like to have some sense of what it’s about, but on this occasion I would have to understand it without any guidance.

In many ways, this made the evening so much more enjoyable. My mind was able to follow the frenetic and energetic choreography  and make up my own narrative. 

As the audience walked into the space, synthesiser music with an ‘other worldly’ quality was playing. The dancers were already in position, and very curious positions they were too. I won’t explain what this entailed, but they poses were striking. 

Over the next hour, the action was ceaseless, but there were definite vignettes played out between the eight dancers – sometimes in pairs, singles, or together as a whole. 

My interpretation was the performance was about humanity  – our behaviours, obsession, and interactions. The ways in which we treat one another, both positive and negatively. 

What I thought was playing out were scenes of life – everything from school days through to work lives, from playtime, to party time, office politics, and even arguments. There were scenes that seemed to be depicting addictions and ways of coping with the stresses of life. 

Some of the interactions hinted at the conformity humans develop in society and the inherent tensions that causes both internally and externally. At one point, I even thought I saw a depiction of micromanagement in an office.

Much of the evening had a dreamlike quality to it. As though the performers were living out either some fantasy or even a nightmare. 

The dancing ranged from being heavily stylised to a kind of free for all, sometimes almost formal, and at other times surreal. 

Props and sets were very minimal – stacks of paper, a desk, some steps, books, food. The costumes were baggy suit jackets and pants, with shirts that were stitched together with different fabrics and were sometimes back to front – this all added to this sense of unreality. 

All up, there was a curious mixture of mystery and familiarity hat I found both satisfying and intriguing. Having now read the programme, it all makes perfect sense. I was kind of close in my interpretation, but then, of course, art is subjective, so any interpretation is accurate.

I look forward to seeing future productions by the Dance Plant Collective since they have shown with Magnificent Remains they can create thought provoking and nuanced work.  

MAGNIFICENT REMAINS

Auckland 

17 – 19 June 2021   7:30pm – 8:30pm

Click here for tickets and information 

More on the show from the producers:

What remains when we offer surrealism to the body? How does one dance with the subconscious?

Magnificent Remains is a contemporary dance work by Brittany Kohler in collaboration with Dance Plant Collective, inspired by the surrealism movement. It is a nod to the original Surrealists, who, in pursuit of liberation turned to the unconscious mind.

We now welcome the 2021 Surrealists. 

They have spent the last while waltzing with surrealism – discovering, abandoning and following their noses without rationale. They will offer us an insight into their investigations, a dip into a world where dreams are placed on a pedestal and logic is abandoned in favour of possibility. Watch as the body receives and reacts in a collage of juxtapositions.

With movement based images of surrealism, Magnificent Remains is performed by a stellar cast of dancers. An incredible sound score has been designed by James Risbey, Costume by Zoë McNicholas, and lighting by Paul Bennett.

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