REVIEW: Wired (Okareka Dance Company)

Review by Sharu Delilkan and Tim Booth

[Wired Inspired!]

Contrary to what the imagery of the show’s publicity depicts, Wired contains no visible or physical wires. However, the intertwining of wires via the dancers’ relationships is very much inferred throughout the show, delivered with great aplomb.

Choreographers Sarah Foster-Sproull, Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal have created a number of beautifully interwoven dance pieces that are a sight to behold.

As the title Wired implies, there is no respite from the frenetic pace of jagged skill from all the dancers right from the get-go — a maelstrom of individual and interlocking stories with very little space for grace, kindness or empathy. Even when conflict is resolved or run out, the hinted at Hollywood ending kiss is rejected and shunted away, leaving a yearning and realistic lack of conclusion.

When you enter the Rangatira Theatre at Q the first thing you see is a cube-shaped truss construction, painted black to give it a touch of class. As always, designer John Verryt’s set (executed beautifully by set constructor Ambrose Hills-Simonsen) is not a backdrop but an integral fabric of the performance as a whole. Industrial and solid at the start, it is played with and teased by all the dancers as a playground, plaything, Parthenon and pool. Morphing such a solid set into a dynamic space not only works as a great foil for many of the dance pieces but has the ability to work as yet another performer in the piece itself.

Vanda Krolczak’s lighting design highlights Verryt’s set fabulously with subtle yet effective highlights, contributing to the visually stunning performance on stage.

Likewise, mechanical Operator Ruby Van Dorp is pivotal in ensuring that Verryt’s set takes the production to yet another level with the various configurations that the set embodies. It unexpectedly delightfully and cleverly clears the floor for a joyful and rousing finale. This leads to an extravagant swan-song, welcome after the tension of the first pieces, providing the respite and relief that we yearned.

Unlike Okareka Dance Company’s previous iconic works Mana Wahine and K Rd Strip, this collection of dance creations leaves the audience with a great deal to decipher for ourselves. The lack of structure and deliberate storyline is by no means a criticism. It’s just a lot more fluid and more open to interpretation.

The 8-strong dance ensemble work seamlessly together and individually, providing us a feast for the eyes throughout the 70+ minute performance. It is impossible to single out one dancer as outstanding because everyone’s performance was equally brilliant.

The infusion of the karanga (the first voice/call out in a pōwhiri that is only performed by females) at the start of the show is a spine-tingling way to set the stage. The injection of Te Reo, peppered throughout the production by dancer Taniora Motutere,  adds yet another dimension that gives this brand new work incredible depth and mana.

Composer Eden Mulholland’s music is bewitching, bewildering and completely beguiling in this show. His music is not only the perfect complement to the phenomenal choreography but gives the entire show added lustre and polish through the tempo and mood changes. His ability to augment all the sentiments being expressed on stage via movement is pleasing and extremely memorable. There are echoes of Jean-Michel Jarre and Peter Gabriel, Vangelis’ Yellow and Midge Ure, but none of these quite stack up to Mulholland’s beautifully composed soundscape.

Wired reminds us how human movement can engage at a primeval and emotional level. We loved Wired for the cohesive creativity we were treated to. But most of all we adored the show’s wairua, coupled with its clever simplicity, bold shyness, and skill that leaves us completely nourished and satisfied when the lights come up — tau kē!

Wired plays at Q until 27 January. 

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  1. 2018 Dance Performances, Jan – March, throughout New Zealand – allmyownwords

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