Dance Review

The Absurdity of Humanity, NZ Dance Company

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The Absurdity of Humanity
The New Zealand Dance Company
Q Theatre, Auckland
25 August 2016

Paul Young, DANZ

The Absurdity of Humanity o!ers two highly contrasting works with a broad collective appeal. The whopper
of a title suggests that the state of being human is “awed, perhaps tragically, perhaps comically.
Australian Choreographer Lina Limosani presents Whispers from Pandora’s Box, a signi#cant reworking of a
piece premiered by the New Zealand school of Dance in 2011.

Hapless Chris Ofanoa unwittingly unleashes a goonish clan of killer clowns from an incandescent box which,
with a bit of theatrical jiggery-pokery, ominously slides across the stage. Led by the masterful Carl
Tolentino and resplendent in smeared clown face, white shirts, and red pantaloons, the clowns look like the
hybrid children of Queen Elizabeth I and Pennywise, the nightmarish character from TV mini-series IT.
Shrieking with laughter at their own machinations, the clown’s hyper-violent antics are juxtaposed against
childlike merriment. An effectively mashed up vocabulary of slapstick, mime, and contemporary movement
drives the absurdity. The cast gives it their all, barely pausing from go to whoa. Ofanoa’s mesmerizing
portrayal of demonic possession, Tolentino’s menacing entrance, and a darling lazzi where some
relentlessly victimized chicken characters try and fail to escape are highlights, in part because the ideas are
given space and time to breathe amongst the chaos.

The programmme reads that Limosani’s desire is to #nd unique ways to bridge the gap between narrative
and contemporary dance, but to my mind, there is no fundamental duality to bridge. Touted as ‘A theatrical
exposition on the dichotomy of good and evil within human nature’ WFPB is a well crafted and wonderfully
danced piece of contemporary performance. A fun, high-spirited romp for sure, but an exposition on human
nature? Not really.

From Tupua Tigafua’s meditative opening solo to the climactic ending, Ross McCormacks Matter takes
exquisite care to present a cohesive world with a highly developed movement vocabulary and fully
integrated production design.

Consisting of five pole-like structures, the set extends upwards like trees, antennae, or perhaps #laments
of fungus which serve as totems, feeding stations, and habitats. Columns of light by Jo Kilgour extend the
structures, making their terminus indeterminate.

Identities emerge from the chorus and are in turn assimilated back into it.
Chrissy Kokiri, #rst amongst equals, seems attuned to a state of “ux as if experiencing the world for the
first time, arms feeling the air like palps, always testing and searching. Emily Adams prostrates herself, her
spiderlike body curling and twisting unnaturally as if in reverse. Xin Ji and Lucy Lynch’s duet of body origami
underpins some astounding group symmetry. In the deepest plié ever seen, Katie Rudd drags Tolentino
sideways with a pelvic tractor beam, while newcomer Eddie Elliot jerks, prances and collapses like an
autonomous marionette.

Jason Wright’s muscular score moves with the dancers. It could be described in terms of mass, direction,
and texture. It alters the space as if sound were made of matter, as if it has its own body. Astounding!
The world of Matter is a total triumph of collaboration, light, sound, and ultimately… vision.

Read original review here.