Excerpts from reviews of the New Zealand School of Dance Choreographic Season in 2014.
'The Residents' was presented May 2014 in Wellington, and October 2014 in Auckland for Tempo Dance Festival.
From first entering the space, this performance from the students of the NZSD is entirely enthralling. The set, from first glance, holds the creative and practical potential of mysterious entrances and exits, as well as being beautifully constructed and painted. The lighting design throughout is also cunningly crafted to direct the audience’s gaze to the appropriate space. As such, whatever the lighting lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in its support of the drama of each section of dance.
As the dancers emerge from the deep dark, their costumes, designed by Jane Boocock and Donna Jefferis and constructed by students, are strikingly elegant and beautifully made, setting the scene for this bizarre performance – outside of any specific time or place. And so the magic begins, holding a little bit of something for everyone is terms of the variety of style and pacing. Highlights choreographically include Paige Shand’s ‘In the mood’ for it’s pure energetic brilliance and style, and Amanda Mitrevski’s ‘Line’, for it’s complexity and stunning metaphorical depth. ‘Born Under a Bad Star’ choreographed by Roymata Holmes, also had some beautiful statements to make about anxiety and depression, and was skillfully performed.
The most striking routine was Eliza Sander’s ‘Pink!ish’, during which two male dancers perform an intense and complex choreography while keeping their mouth’s constantly in contact. As it comes to a close I was left with an image that defines the experience of falling passionately in love. On this point, throughout the performance I was thrilled to see pairings between same-sex partners. These relationships were not exoticised or eroticized and worked beautifully; it is wonderful to see this level of openness and equalism in a show.
Although all of the dancers put on a compelling and highly skilled show, highlights among the 2nd year crop were Latisha Sparks, Jacob Edmonds and William Keohavong, whose particular attention to expression and enthusiasm made them electric to watch. The most striking performer for engagement with and energy towards the audience was Felix Sampson, who captures the spirit of many different genres and eras with charisma and commitment.
Among the student choreographers Tessa Hall, James Wasmer, Roymata Holmes and Eliza Sanders captured the crowds attention with devastatingly strenuous solos and beautiful pair-work, although once again these are the highlights of an incredibly strong cast of dancers.
While my guest searched for a structured narrative, I found several themes around affection prevalent, which was enough to guide me through the performance in a linear fashion. This performance captured the joy, anxiety, total infatuation, control, and potential abuse involved in human relationships, and even though the pieces were individually choreographed, this over-arching intensity and profundity was gracefully achieved.
My only criticism of ‘The Residents’ can be put down to opening night jitters – it is vital that dancers backstage and to the sides of stage recognize that they are still visible to the first rows, and as such must remain still and quiet. Other than this, it was a wonderful mix of styles and pacing, and the skill and stamina of the dancers made for an awe-inspiring and highly engaging show.
Rose Cann, Salient
Dance students produce bleak but beautiful work
This programme of 10 choreographies created by third-year contemporary dance students at the New Zealand School of Dance is outstanding. Original, articulate, amusing and professionally performed, it could tour now, such is the excellence of the whole production. The work is surely directed by Victoria Columbus and danced by second- and third-year students, with design input from students from Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School design course…
The standard of choreography and performance overall is excellent and all deserve mention. However Michael Ramsay's Supreme Arcitecture (sic) stood out for its conceptual originality and the intense performances from James Wasmer and Mason Kelly. Staff of the New Zealand School of Dance and Toi Whakaari can be very proud.
Ann Hunt, The Dominion Post
Ingenious staging for residents choreographers
As someone who has studied choreographic technique, this event was a treat, I saw techniques I had read about brought to life, none more poignant for me than 'The Game' choreographed by Tessa Hall, possibly a little esoteric for some, but exciting for me… Each choreographed piece followed seamlessly one into the other, I suspect in part due to Victoria Columbus, the Director.
…Watch out for Michael Ramsay, his storytelling in "Surpreme Arcitecture [sic]" was clear and beautifully uncomfortable; and perfectly followed by Paige Shand's "In The Mood", but Amanda Mitrevski's "Line" took me to the edge of my seat and had me hold my breath, thank you, and thank you to Mason Kelly and Tessa Hall who made that look flawless and easy…
Pip E-Lysaah, Theatreview
An evening of inventiveness at the New Zealand School of Dance’s 'The Residents'
The show opens strongly with ‘Fade’, which takes the audience on a surreal journey with radio waves, a mysterious doorway and a feeling of dissonance as we relate to the dancer who finds herself in a new world. The performance, choreographed by Jeremy Beck, set a very high standard… Roymata Holmes’s ‘Born under a Bad Star’ blended traditional dance with the choreographer’s Cook Island heritage, while in the final segment, ‘Fasnet’, James Wasmer explored his dual German–Tongan heritage with a carnival theme.
Set and lighting designs are by the students of Toi Whakaari, the New Zealand Drama School, with costumes by Jane Boocock and Donna Jefferis. It is the culmination of the three years’ work by the School of Dance’s students.
Jack Yan, Lucire