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Company Celebrates 20 Years “Footing It” Around NZ

4 August 2005

Pioneering Dance Company Celebrates 20 Years “Footing It” Around Nz!

Celebrating the way they know best, Footnote Dance Company’s current dancers and founder-director, Deirdre Tarrant get into the birthday spirit ahead of the recommencement of their 20-year celebration tour, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS.

Following the show’s successful sell-out season in Auckland during June, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS will reopen at Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, Wellington from 18-21 August, followed by Upper Hutt, Christchurch and Dunedin.

In true Footnote Dance Company style, the company has marked its 20-year milestone by commissioning a body of new works by leading New Zealand choreographers who have a long association with the company. Home is Where the Heart is features a collection of fresh New Zealand dance works celebrating the passion of a life in New Zealand dance, as the much-loved contemporary company marks 20 years of creation and advocacy of New Zealand dance.

Home is Where the Heart is features six diverse works by Raewyn Hill, Moss Patterson, Moana Nepia, Jeremy Nelson, Katharina Waldner and Tarrant. In keeping with Footnote Dance Company’s long-held philosophy of supporting kiwi artistic talent, all the works are performed to New Zealand music – from the pulsating dub of Auckland’s Pitch Black, to the techno groove and urban hip-hop of Audiosauce, Gramsci, a Nic McGowan soundscape, and the distinguished classical sound of Douglas Lilburn.

“Home is Where the Heart is captures the values the company has pursued since day one – fostering a strong connection to New Zealand dance, music, artists and community,” says Tarrant. “It’s like a homecoming for those who have a history with us, as if they are returning to their dance roots – where the heart is – to give something back through these special works that go out to the wider community.”

Themes emerging through the works include exploring interaction and energy between people; attempts to belong within society; blood, ancestry and life-force; aloneness; ideals of perfection and beauty; and going beyond the square.

“Plumage” from upcoming young Wellington choreographer Katharina Waldner, with costumes designed by local fashion label Starfish, deals with interaction and connections between people and places. It grew out of Waldner’s earlier piece using paper bags, “Slip”, which memorably featured in Footnote’s 2004 Feet First tour.

“Mursh Mellow”, two developing pieces of dance by expatriate New Zealand choreographer and guest artist at this year’s ChoreoLab, Jeremy Nelson, takes its inspiration from a mispelt café sign. It deals with the pursuit of a feeling of belonging but not quite getting it right, always remaining slightly on the outer and out of your comfort zone.

Powerful themes run through Moss Patterson’s “Kura”, Moana Nepia’s “Quintet” and Raewyn Hill’s “How Ugly is that Duckling”.

Patterson’s work – the third in a trilogy– is about life-force and connection to ancestors. Its physical, high-energy movement and pulsating rhythms ebb and flow to the beat of Pitch Black. In contrast, Nepia’s “Quintet” explores aloneness to the lyrical melodies of Gramsci.

Raewyn Hill’s “How Ugly is that Duckling” inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s children’s story “The Ugly Duckling”, makes a dramatic and theatrical statement in dance about society’s ideals of women’s perfection and beauty. The work, danced to two of Douglas Lilburn’s beautiful “Canzonas”, explores the notion that if society was not so blinded by the idolization of physical perfection, we could recognize the more important attribute of inner beauty.

Funky and groovy, “Outside the Square” by Deirdre Tarrant is playful, fun and interwoven with an element of chance. It explores the idea that sometimes it is fun to follow everyone else, but sometimes it’s also important to take steps outside our own personal square.

And this is exactly what Footnote Dance Company have done for the last 20 years. In a world where contemporary dance is widely regarded as a volatile artform and companies notoriously rise and fall, Footnote’s survival and growing success is admirable. Internationally, this is rare, and in New Zealand it is unique. Over 20 years, Footnote has been renowned for nurturing the talents of choreographers, dancers and teachers who started out with the company and have gone on to forge successful careers both here and overseas.

Choreographers who have worked with the company are some of New Zealand’s top names. Among them; Michael Parmenter, Raewyn Hill, Douglas Wright, Mary-Jane O’Reilly, Shona McCullagh, Lyne Pringle Moss Patterson, Jeremy Nelson, and Guy Ryan. Distinguished dancers who have spent time as members of Footnote include Lisa Densem, Rob Wood, Marie Gray, Carla Martell, Brigette Rigby, Jane Duncan, Paora Taurima, Chris Isaac and Tim Fletcher.

“It all began in 1985,” recalls Tarrant. “The Rainbow Warrior was bombed, New Zealand established itself as the world’s first anti-nuclear country and in true kiwi pioneering spirit, Footnote took to the road - the start of a journey putting contemporary dance on the map in New Zealand!”

This spirit hasn’t diminished. Over 20 years the company has always toured extensively, taking performances and education programmes to small towns and cities from Keri Keri to Invercargill. It has been instrumental in making contemporary dance accessible to thousands of New Zealanders with its commitment to delivering an innovative and all-round Kiwi dance experience.

“Dance plays a defining role in every culture and Footnote has been unique in its mission to provide the opportunity for dance to have a voice here in a country renowned for its competitive physicality,” says Tarrant. “Dance about our environment, about our daily lives, our relationships, spirit and colours that define us have consistently emerged over this time, and will continue to inspire us for the next 20 years!”

Home is Where the Heart Is on at:
Wellington: Soundings Theatre, Te Papa:
August 18-20 at 8.00pm and August 20 at 1.00pm

Upper Hutt: Genesis Energy Theatre at Expressions Arts & Entertainment Centre:
August 22-23 at 8.00pm

Christchurch: James Hay Theatre:
August 26-27 at 8.00pm

Dunedin: Regent Theatre
September 9-10 at 8.00pm


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