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Rotunda: The New Zealand Dance Company’s Intensly Touching Tribute To All Our ANZAC Heroes – Review
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Her Majesty’s Theatre, Fri 1 May.

The New Zealand Dance Company’s maiden performance in South Australian has validated their reputation as an inspiring company with high-calibre dancers. Rotunda is an accessible major dance work, which combines dynamic contemporary dance, an evocative narrative, big brass music and creative technical elements.

Rotunda is an incredible salute to the ANZAC spirit and the brave men who fought and died at Gallipoli and elsewhere during World War One. At the turn of the last Century, park rotundas were a gathering place for the community to be entertained free of charge, and especially by brass bands.

Adding an appropriate community touch to every performance as they travel around Australia, The New Zealand Dance Company performs with a local brass band on stage. Tonight in Adelaide, the 24-piece Kensington and Norwood Brass Band delightfully entered Her Majesty’s Theatre with the Invercargill March by Alex Lithgow. The band, led by conductor Marc Taddei, skilfully played the brass music, compiled by Don McGlashan, to match the dance seamlessly.

The set and lighting design require a significant mention due to the vibrant influence it has on this show. There were beautiful moments of a single white silk sheet hauntingly blowing around the stage, being lifted up by strategically positioned fans and the dancers moving around it, possibly a reminder to keep the memories of fallen soldiers alive. This contrasted with a chaotic battle scene with white banners being projected onto and shadows of dancers coming through from behind.

Let’s not forget the marvellous Kensington and Norwood Brass! The band bursts through the auditorium in an explosion of wonderful military brassiness and never flags. A highlight here is the euphonium solo of Jerusalem.

The choreography by Shona McCullagh was incredibly clever and vibrant and the eight dancers brought out the precise emotion though it. Some memorable moments included the anger and intensity in the dance resembling the Maori Haka and the emotive dance with the grieving soldier trying to bring his dead comrade back to life.

Overall, the choreography, dancers, technical elements and band deliver an intense memorable performance. Let’s hope that we see The New Zealand Dance Company back in Adelaide again soon.

Bobby Goudie
Rotunda continues at Her Majesty’s Theatre until Sat 2 May.