Y Chromozone : significant dance for entertainment's sake

TEMPO 2015 : Y CHROMOZONE (2015)

Tom Bradley (Sydney Dance Company), Kimbrian Bergh (South African Ballet Theatre) and Tim Podesta (Projection Dance), Paul Knobloch (Sydney Dance Company), The Dust Palace, Touch Compass, Da Bradas (Identity Co), New Zealand School of Dance

Reviewed by Camelle Pink, 7 Oct 2015

Seriously, change your plans for Wednesday night and purchase tickets to Y Chromozone. This smorgasbord of dance works will have you leaning in to appreciate the nuances in the movement scores, as well as relaxing into your seat with laughter. The show certainly celebrates the strength, agility and artistry of the men (and women) who are active in our New Zealand dance communities, bringing some fabulous offerings from local dance companies, groups and individuals. Thank you to the performers, choreographers, and the Tempo Team for bringing this delight of a show to Q Theatre.

With no interval, it is quite a long program, but one that is worth your time. Even for the sheer prospect of seeing the OMG Dad's get their groove on -Bruno Mars should get these guys on tour! There are well-placed breaks in the show allowing allow viewers to relax the mind and simply enjoy the pleasure of seeing wonderful execution of steps combined with a flair for performance.

Y Chromozone kicks off with the bright Eight by Brigitte Knight performed by current Unitec students. The simple backdrop sets the scene for energetic leaps and bounds. It interprets the music appropriately while showcasing the youthful male power of these dancers.

Next, Touch Compass Dance Company bring us an interesting play with the frame of a box in Framed Borders. While this work seems mostly inwardly focused, there is an engaging play with the idea of travel, time, and proximity between the performers. The lighting state really enhances the images within this work.

We witness two strong examples of champion male Highland dancers from The Highland Dance Company of New Zealand. Our first introduction to these adept dancers is their sword dance Blood On the Loch. The audience responds marvellously to their explosive jumps and beats. Their second offering Rhythm in Blue contrasts with the light ballon of the sword dance through the more grounded (but no less sharp) Irish hard shoe dance. Their posture and crisp footwork is rhythmic, and fierce.

Tupua Tigafua has created a nugget of gold in Just Say Hello. The tone of this work is playful, lively and a total crowd-pleaser. There is a precision in the sequencing of the movements, and an innovative mixture of styles slip into this piece. The guys certainly capture the high spirits of the song. 

Pay attention to Edward Clendon in wind-carry. He harnesses an impressive power, suspended close to the stage lights. There is a clean, articulateness to his leg movement that is coupled with absolute strength. This is fascinating to observe as he passes through a variety of graceful gestures and motifs.

Perri Exeter presents us with Beyond the Mat. The changing music provides a soundscape to the movements that we come to recognise. There is a sense of wrestling between people and ideas in this piece. Both fluid and strong, the choreography is well performed by Rodney Tyrell, Elijah Kennar, and Leighton Rangi.

In Bon Voyage we get to relax into the vision of pleasing virtuosic extensions that Paul Knobloch is capable of. He is smooth and dextrous. As a repeated image, I wonder what the beautiful leg extensions are saying? Of several interesting moments within this work, the two that stick in my mind have little to do with technique and everything to do with the break in movement. Face-planted to the suitcase and the plucking of light from the case seemed to hold more meaning and intention for us as observers.

I am no tapper, but Brandon Carter-Chanheld the audience's attention with his street style tap. Appropriately titled Sound, the dance plays with rhythm and generates lively audience involvement -do not worry, you will not have to get up on stage!

Father and Son returns some lightness to the show. The facials truly make this piece work as is expected with a name such as White Face Crew. The mime allows everyone into the work, with recognisable moments between father  and son.The piece comes full circle, in a pleasing way.

Without Regard presented by Jag Popham and Samuel Hall demonstrates their skill at partnering and moving with ease in and out of the floor. Moments of their music are reminiscent of a piano-version of the techno sandstorm track. With this they capture an intensity in their duet which exudes control over each other, and leads me to wonder is this about self-dialogue?

The Dust Palace tackle some hefty subjects in Derezzed  and The Adonis Complex. Both pieces deserve an essay written on how they unpack their concepts around the masculine self and what defines masculinity. There is definite potential in Derezzed  to delve into the theory by Donna Harraway (1991), however it satisfies with a spinning spectacle of light and action. Human movement layered with screen projection adds another layer to this cyborg-like performance. The Adonis Complex invites the audience to see these muscular women as they perform, and challenges us to see them doing strength tasks that are a display of paradoxically gendered actions.

A bare stage, a pedestrian style and precise technique makes Walk The New Walk an intriguing narrative of two men faced with the reality of their morality. Sounds deep, but Tim Podesta and Kimbrian Berg keep us satisfied with their ability to create humour and commitment to the movement score. This style of choreography may be a bit dense for non-dancers, however everyone agrees that it is a delight to see.

We see choreographer-performer Thomas Bradley revealed by a window of light as he writhes in From Form. Moving through a series of nuanced bodily articulations he compels us to ask 'what is it to [be] moved? There is a continual sense of morphing and re-working of himself to develop a studied, deliberate performance that takes full advantage of the lighting potential of the theatre.

The Bradas wrap up the show with their high impact hip hop performance. Gold is clean, entertaining, and exhibits the skill that led them to win their champions title at the World Championship earlier this year.  They continue to toy with movement and music to make exciting pairings. This set has a clubby feel at times, with the contrived facials that are present in the spectacle of hip-hop dance. Definitely a strong finish to Y Chromozone.

Truly, I could write five times as much about all of the performances in Y Chromozone. The show is testament to all the wonderful choreographic and performance work by, and for males in New Zealand. I commend the artists for tackling some huge subject areas, and also to those who remind us that dance for entertainment's sake is significant. I am wowed, and humbled by the expertise shown in Y Chromozone. Keep making work and sharing it with us!

Wednesday, 14 October, 2015