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June 11, 2013 | by  | in Arts Theatre | [ssba]

Review: And Then It Moved

“Dance, dance or we are lost” – Pina Bausch.

And lost it was. And Then It Moved was this year’s chance for the New Zealand School of Dance to flaunt its mastery of contemporary dance for its 2013 choreographic season. But some of its ten short pieces dove too deep into a melting pot of different art forms while others teetered on the pot’s edge, neither sure what exactly they were—genuine dance or some avant-garde tanztheater (cue: Michael Gudgeon’s Reality Check). And within this pervasive doubt lay the problem in And Then It Moved.

“Contemporary dance is the exploration of the total movement of the body” (chur Wiki), which should open up a wider range of choreographic possibilities, since it doesn’t adhere to the strict rules of classical ballet say. But the pieces of And Then It Moved which faltered rewrote the genre of contemporary dance to choreograph something less than. When an artwork’s (plastic or otherwise) interpretation is greater than its form there is something amiss—by being too minimalist the mentioned works became a desert, barren of movement and thus dry and lifeless as far as dance works go.

Having sounded like a real dick thus far, other pieces did blossom where those mentioned were nipped at their creative bud. They used a wider range of movement to wondrous applause. The NZSD dancers—who did dance—did so competently and with fierce conviction, their choreographers using all manner of movements with a greater trend toward ground work this year. If dance were a religion it would be blasphemous not to utter some mention of the use of props in And Then It Moved. From the buckets in Mark to the ‘snow’ in Teeter, and a large box hidden in the stage’s corner, the props performed fluid segues from one piece to another and even shepherded our interpretations of pieces themselves. A personal favourite were the old tomes in Luigi Vescio’s One of Them used as symbols of oppression to denounce one dancer’s bid for self-expression. But performances couldn’t lean solely on avant-garde theatricality to keep And Then It Moved upright—as one work tried to do with the disturbing painting of one of its dancers by his peers.

And Then It Moved was powerful stuff, but also haughty in its interpretation of contemporary dance. When I pay $17 for a ticket to a choreographic season I want to see movement, goddammit! If choreographers are to marry dance with such flamboyant theatricality, dance can’t be forced to consent by the latter for the sake of entertainment.


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