I’ve started up a new venture that I’m really excited about called the Auckland Blackout Performance Assembly. Auckland Blackout is a vehicle to support the ideas and creative output of emerging and mid-career choreographers, performance artists and dance/performance educators based in Auckland. Particularly struck by what appears to be a recent emergence of bold new artistry in the areas of choreography and performance art, my hope is to provide opportunities that will strengthen this new wave of artists, encourage their risk-taking and honour and uphold their mana and creative agency. IT will also serve as a platform and mode of representation for educators in dance and performance art who are looking to share and connect their practices with students and fellow artists.
Our first project is an evening of solo works at the Basement Theatre in early July – details coming soon! ‘Til then, check out our things:
We Have Been There – (Cloud In Hand)
Lisa Densem – Footnote Forte Series 2013
Q Theatre, 27 and 28 March
As part of Footnote Dance Company’s most recent Forte Series, Berlin-based New Zealand born choreographer Lisa Densem presents her newly commissioned work We Have Been There (Cloud In Hand). I receive this work as a complex movement study that for all its cerebral epiphanies still somehow manages to anchor itself into something very down to earth and primal. Through a simple and timeless approach to structure and an intuitive understanding of the relationship between ritual and presence, I am able to experience this intellectually enlightening work as also being spiritually moving – a combination I imagine to be challenging to achieve.
The spatial and social structure of the work is simply a journey of individuals who are first established in isolation to each other and eventually come together through a series of groupings. As the audience enters, the dancers are already on stage, making small shifts of dissonant movement that investigate the internal dimensions of their unique and idiosyncratic worlds. They are distant from each other and pre-occupied with their own physical speech, though somehow seem to be tentatively connected to the audience.
As the work progresses, the dancers appear to be seeking out or declaring movement statements that they inscribe through refreshingly unusual configurations of bones and muscles. Never quite relaxing in a finished place but then again, never too far away from comfort, we see contortions, contractions, disruptions, inter-lacings and weavings that are approached by the choreographer from what seems like a genuinely innovative perspective. Eventually the dancers gravitate to one another, sometimes momentum is found, sometimes it is uneasy for the individuals to find a sense of place within the group, but somehow it is always gentle. This gentleness and the delicate wonderment the dancers seem to posses at their own movement manifestations gives a powerful sense of intrigue that permeates the work from start to finish.
The unusualness of the language is never alienating for me – I somehow find it very accessible and at times upsettingly true and profound. Though the choreographer has no intention to explore a theme or idea, the work still manages to invite me into thinking about a particular sense of being. The distortive, ill-fittingness of the movement seems to perfectly echo the way in which I think about how we in the West struggle to relate back to our real bodies as technology beckons us to leave them behind or extend beyond the real space they occupy. I see the dancers grapple with the parameters of their bodies, and a desire to arrive at a new location where Self sits slightly outside of the skin becomes apparent. The Westernized body as we know it today, or perhaps its state of being, is somehow placed under an intense scrutiny in this work, but not in a way that is invasive or direct or polemic.
As it all subtly unfolds within a patient and sacred on-going moment, I am left with a sensation that is similar to that which is present after witnessing a vulnerable chick hatch from its egg, take its first breath and adjust to its new space and time. And the space and time of the work altogether feels beautifully and achingly contemporary – a triumph that may have been aided by the choreographer’s rigorous research into hyper-attention and presence. The piece confronts me with the here and now – I am hyper-aware not only of the presence of the dancers who occupy this black, barren and empty void of a stage, but also of myself, a viewer, a participant in the exchange. The acutely-aware arena allows the ‘statements of moving body’ to penetrate quietly and sharply as tiny cracks in thin glass.
We Have Been There is not a highly sensationalized, immediately gratifying work of spectacle and entertainment, and there are one or two moments that I am not entirely in my role as viewer. I have taken off momentarily into side-thoughts spurred on by the underlying textures of the work. But I am thankful for being given permission to do this, to drop away or ‘sign out’ from my viewer-role and return to it with ease much like I would as a passive participant of a community ritual. I am so thankful to Lisa and to Footnote for creating this sophisticated work and sharing it with New Zealand audiences, and I look forward to seeing the ways in which it influences our artistic landscapes.
Written by Cat Ruka
To purchase tickets to my new show please go to the iticket website. We have a great deal on at the moment – if you book tickets in a group of 5 or more before Friday the 15th of Feb, you will receive a 2-pack of Geisen Wine upon your arrival at the theatre. We are all having so much fun putting this show together and can’t wait to share it with you!
This footage was taken from our first rehearsal together
Auckland City – An Awkward Altar
How do we navigate spaces for ourselves amongst the fissures and collisions of this awkward place? Where can we feel safe to be vulnerable?
Wedged uncomfortably between a village and a metropolis, the social complexities of Auckland city become a source of provocation for Cat Ruka’s new performance work Awkward Altars. Featuring a collective of 10 independent practitioners who between them have created over 100 performances, this work celebrates the beautifully dissonant nature of how we as Aucklanders relate to each other.
“I have deliberately brought together an unlikely ensemble of local artists who offer a multi-generational, inter-cultural and diverse spectrum of life experience,” says Ruka. “In this performance we take genuine risks with each other and aren’t afraid to cultivate our social differences.” Included in this cast are veteran dancer Jenny De Leon, actor and director Hori Ahipene and budding choreographer Zahra Killeen-Chance.
Awkward Altars will be the first large group work for this award-winning choreographer, whose politically charged performances have given her artistic acclaim both locally and internationally. Her most radical work New Treaty Militia, an improvised duet that examines the Maori/Pakeha binary, toured internationally last year with a final performance at Te Papa National Museum on Waitangi Day. “My work has been political in the sense that I try to reveal a connection between very personal experiences and a wider political climate. Awkward Altars functions in the same way, but in this instance I have a diverse collection of personal experiences to work with that aren’t my own.”
An incredibly rare performance work that truly examines the fringes of our city and our people, Awkward Altars is set to be an integral component of the Auckland Fringe Festival 2013.
Full cast: Hori Ahipene, Jenny De Leon, Tru Paraha, Kristian Larsen, Haydon Timoko, Matthew Moore, Zahra Killeen-Chance, Cat Ruka, Val Smith, Emily Moffat
Sound: James Risbey & Lucy Beeler
Dates and Times: 1st – 3rd March, 5:30pm
Venue: The Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Tickets: $20 / $15
Bookings: iTicket – http://www.iticket.co.nz or 09 361 1000
Okay friends and whanau this is an important one! I really need some help paying my incredible next level performers for a show coming up. Not sure about this whole crowd funding thing but it’s really important to me that these people get the payment they deserve and I will go to great lengths to achieve this in a way that is independent from the government. We have an awesome reward system going so please please help us out! Thank you I love you ♥ ♥
Over the last 3 weeks I have been putting together a short choreography for Tempo Dance Festival’s Tuakana programme called Fantastically Natural Environments. This piece explores textures of loss and disconnection experienced by urban Maori, as well as investigating new and powerful ways we find and uphold our mana. The aim is to move toward the truthful, everyday experiences we have as complex cultural beings. It has been made with the fabulous Haydon Timoko and Milly Grant who are both 2nd year students at MIT’s performing arts school.
October 9th, 6pm
October 10th, 8pm
Q Theatre Rangatira Stage, Auckland, NZ
*Photos for Gif taken by Raukura Turei
Claudia Hill is a fashion and costume designer from Berlin who is currently sending her woven poncho around the world via “human couriers”. Claudia got in touch with me through Andros Zins-Browne (a New York friend of mine who I met on a residency in Berlin who is an INCREDIBLE artist btw) and asked if I had international travel coming up and could possibly be one of these human couriers. The poncho was passed on to me by David Shields at Alleluya Cafe on K’Rd, with whom I had a brief yet lovely chat about what he had done with the poncho while it was in his hands. I took the poncho with me to England and somehow had to get it to Boris Achour in Paris. It turned out that one of my fellow travellers from New Zealand, Nanako Uchida, planned on heading there after our collaboration in Leeds, and so I passed the poncho on to Nanako. I hope she had a nice time meeting Boris. I think this is a lovely way of connecting artists around the world, so I thought I would post this image of Nanako and I with the poncho in an alleyway in Leeds. Here is a rather whimsical little video of the poncho’s time with The Wooster Group theatre company in New York.
I’m currently preparing for a performance at the PSi conference in Leeds, UK in collaboration with Mark Harvey, Te Oti Rakena, Nanako Uchida and Raukura Turei. I’m playing with the idea of literally stealing land and enacting mundane rituals in the spaces I have taken land from. I’m hoping to steal parts of land at the University of Leeds where the conference is. Yesterday we had a practice at digging a hole in Mark’s back yard and played around with a gas cooker in the hole.
The PSi conference runs from the 27th of June – 1st of July.