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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Review: What They Said (dance)

What They Said is a new dance work by The New Zealand Dance Company that premiered this week as part of the Tempo Dance Festival.It’s described as a play without words, and simultaneously relentless and mesmerising. 

I have to say, reviewing this show is not easy. I can see a lot of work has gone into it by some very professional people who work hard.

For me though, it was a very unusual piece, and while I thought some moment were delightful, a lot of it just didn’t move me – no pun intended.

This is no reflection on the performers. I’ve seen a number of these people in other shows, and they are a highly skilled troupe who worked together in this show very well. I just didn’t think their talents were used to the fullest.

There were a number of sets that involved the performers walking, even strutting, to quite intense musical tracks. These moments were I think designed to evoke human dynamics and relationships and how we often talk at people rather than truly converse. It was a great concept, but something was missing, yet I can’t say what it was.

The musical choices perplexed me. Many of the tracks were discordant, loud and overwhelming, which I guess suited the theme, but I found them jarring. Several of them also had voices inserted in them which repeated words and numbers and even sentences. They were I believe attempts to show how people insult or manipulate. But the relentless nature of those words and repetitions became overwhelming and I started to lose focus.

As I mentioned above, there were some lovely moments, and my favourite was one in the middle of the show when the performers created a mountain that began to ‘speak.’ It was the second or third evocation of this mountain, and this time each dancer peeled off and performed individually or as couples to a soaring, surreal piece of music. It was sheer magic. 

Overall, this was a very curious, odd, maddening and at times inventive piece of work that didn’t really work for me in its totality, but it got a very enthusiastic response from the audience on opening night! So who knows, maybe it’s me!

Rangatira, Q Theatre
305 Queen Street, Auckland  
Friday 7 October at 7:30pm
Saturday 8 October at 7:30pm

A Reserve $45.00
Child/Student/Unwaged/ Senior Citizen $30
B Reserve $39.00
Child/Student/Unwaged/ Senior Citizen $25
*Service fees apply

Tickets go on sale Monday August 29 at 10am

Website and tickets


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