Dance Review

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Lumina National Tour
by The New Zealand Dance Company
Gallagher Academy of Performing arts
4 May 2018

Reviewed by Sam Edwards

Full House signs went up a week ago. Clearly, The New Zealand Dance Company would deliver.  Little wonder then, that the three works in this programme stretched the imagination and excited the emotions in ways which even took this audience by surprise.  In each of these works we were captured by dancers shadowboxing with light, delivering exquisite experience rather than narrative and reinterpreting reality in fantastic and eye opening sequences.

We are so conditioned by the commercial narrative ‘realities’ of twenty first century television particularly, and by media generally, that we want to know what every pixel is telling us. Today, we rarely, some of us never, simply absorb an experience without asking interminable questions about what it all means. Even tonight, we were asking questions like What did that mean? Or even What was that meant to be? when in fact the dances themselves showed such questions to be meaningless. These were experiences which fractured pixel vision. We could revel in the emotions we were feeling without having to find a cause. We could appreciate the aesthetics without thinking about their cost in dollars. We could sit back and enjoy such exquisite pleasure in the movement of the dancers that life improved with every raised arm or turned head.  Sometimes, contemporary dance can be a little like strips of old flannel hanging about on a soggy afternoon.

Not tonight. This was movement which carried all of the virtuosity of classical ballet with unbelievable athleticism, emotional sensivity, and a constant flow of original images which spoke so much of who we are, and how much we do not know about who we are. And for that we should single out one non dancer to go with the troupe in congratulations. She is Production and Stage Manager, and Lighting Designer, Jo Kilgour, who paints with light, who turns silhouette into a three dimensional character, and who with light alone dresses her stage and peoples it with dancers seen as if in the most extraorinarily beautiful dream. In this production Ms Kilgour is a seventh dancer through whom the six on stage were able to work such magic that even the ugly was beautiful. Those lights will never go out.