Dec 21, 2017



Choreographers: Sarah Foster-Sproull and Emma Murray
Composers: Andrew Foster and Till Hillbrecht.
at Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland
1 Nov 2017 

Reviewed by val smith, 3 Nov 2017

CONTRAST is a double bill from Footnote New Zealand Dance, currently touring the country with dancers Anu Khapung, Adam Naughton, Joshua Faleatua, Tyler Carney, and Georgia Beechey-Gradwell.  The event presents new dance works, Participation by Emma Murray and Super Ornate Construct by Sarah Foster-Sproull.  I attend CONTRAST on 1st November 2017 in Tāmaki Makaurau at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Epsom Girls Grammar School. 

I am considering the kind of information a conventional dance review presents.  I am wondering how I might rethink this traditional approach to foreground an open-ended and curious response to the event.  So, I develop a vague plan as to how I might respond in the moment to the live event.  Rather than discussing the choreographic works, which dance reviews conventionally describe, analyse, interpret and evaluate, I want to attend more closely to the dancers (and their powers).

Can I frame the embodied knowledge produced, generated and invited by the dancers, space, and the event as a w/hole – from tickets and foyer - to halftime - to post-show interactivity?  The material and immaterial relations, the socio-politically charged sensations, the awkwardness, the tensions, the avoided encounters, the hugs, the dreams and passions, the memories, the crushes, the shadows, the throw of light from the wings, the fall of dust through strips of light.

I reimagine the ‘dance review' as a kind of map.  Not an illustration, nor an archive of the event.  Not a representation of the choreographic material.  Rather, an oblique paraphrasing, or a failing translation.  Can I map CONTRAST to spawn and summon new meanings, new ideas, or conjure new choreographies?

How can this cartography be co-extensive with the entire expanded social field of the Nov 1st CONTRAST Footnote NZ Dance event?  An impossible task perhaps, but this paradoxical map keeps calling me.  It makes no distinction between its content and expression.  It is a formation, no, it is a forming, that others may see and feel and enact through a YELLINGMOUTH web space. 

This map of CONTRAST is a multiplying diagram with many folds and arrows.  My attention leans into the event as an alive sensorium held open (and closed) by the dancers.  

I approach this ‘review' then, as an opportunity to share the peripheral effects of the performance, and maybe some of the mundane details, or the accidental joys of the dance.  I want to touch and socialise with you the event as an unfinished assemblage.  How might the thousands of vibrating micro events, generated through the liveness, create an environment of Contemporary Dance?

I am wondering how the five dancers might

-        bring to life the audience's experiences,
-        vibrate with techniques, processes and the politics of dance,
-        interrelate with each other,
-        impress into us their unique expressions-perspectives,
-        impact the space with their pasts, futures and presents.

The following link connects to a fragmented assemblage of image & text elements developed through a 48-hour creative practice that responds experimentally to the live event CONTRAST, and to the event's promotional and programming materials.  From 9am Tuesday 1st November - 9am Thursday 3rd November 2017, I play with drawing, writing, sensing-feeling-moving, photography and reflective/editing/composing processes.  

I hope you enjoy.


CONTRAST is a system of relations. A space of continuous imagination, 
which produces the performance, constitutes the choreography. 
The imagination of the dancers, the dreamy visions and narratives of 
the audience, and the hopes of the choreographer and other theatre 
designers and technicians, together become a rich red and gold triptych, 
a swirling messy action painting.

I drive from Western Springs to Epsom, in a small black car.  
It has tinted windows, and a flashing stereo system that does not work.  
After parking, I remember my ex went to school here at Auckland Girls 
Grammar School.

What I thought I might propose here, is that the dancers themselves are the artwork and the artists.  Walking, breathing, moving, feeling, interrelating, sensing artworks.  Interacting with each other, with space, and with us, in the creation of a shared experience.  They are artworks composed of bodily intelligence and other hard-to-describe sensibilities.  They are holding space, creating space, leaking space, enfolding space.

“It was like a big chunk of the year. Eating porridge for days on end.
I was really poor. I’m always poor."

Participation by Emma Murray

The choreography would operate in this vein as a vehicle for us, the ‘audience’, to experience the artwork-artists.  From this perspective, the choreographers serve the vision of the dancers, as collaborators in the artists' works.  The dancers’ performances on any one night, in any one moment, interdependently and collectively, create what we are witnessing, participating in.  A tiny instance, or the complete flow from arrival, foyer, entry into the theatre, curtains opening, program, post-performance chats, and the walk back to the little black car, also become part of the artworks.

I want to be in relation to the live event, inside of it, with it, dancing with it. 

I want to engage the dancers with all of my senses, in a state of listening, 
feeling, knowing, unknowing.  I want to sink into them as art, and ‘review’ 
the dancer-artworks through a diagrammatic practice. 
I am Diagramming.

Despite these speculative conceptions, I encounter the live event from inside the event, and I realise my propositions do not fit in.  The question then becomes: Choreography?


I stop to participate.

Jazz shoes on ice. 
Terpsichore in upright sneakers.

Super Ornate Construct by Sarah Foster-Sproull

Stop Remembering


He wonders if you like it. Being in the rain.

I cannot see the dancer for the choreography.  

Am I seeing the dancer in collaboration with the choreography, the processes, the techniques, the choreographer, the space, the Footnote company, the theatre, the audience, the institution...?

Not Thinking
King Thin

I moved with Fale, with a feeling of diving into and through.

I heard the choreography
I saw the baby suckling
I am Adam
My feet touched the light
So yellow.
So yellow.
I remember the orange. In the yellow. 
I see the red. The curtains, pulled back.

Witch/cloud gif gone missing

Adam imagines something in his hand.

Whose pace is this?
Whose pace is this?
Whose rhythm?


The smell of urgency
I suggest that it is the embodied knowledge of the dancers that the audience engages with, and often, that it is the dancers that we come to see.  The choreographers, Footnote’s management team, the designers, the theatre techs, and the theatre itself, in collaboration with the dancer-artists, we are all supporting the dance production/the production of the dance.  What will the performance be/become from this vantage point?  And how will we respond to it on the page?

drawing, photos, writing etc by val smith (they/them) - 02.11.2017

Introductory information to this 'dance review' on Theatreview here