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Sydney Dance Co. In NZ With Nick Cave Inspiration

Sydney Dance Company Returns To NZ With Work Inspired By Pop Balladeer Nick Cave

Dancers hurl through space with razor-sharp precision; fiercely energised one moment, strikingly sensual the next – Sydney Dance Company returns to the Auckland stage with Underland, a stunning work by influential New York-based choreographer Stephen Petronio.

THE EDGE® presents Underland at the Aotea Centre for five shows only from November 10 to 13.

Described by the San Francisco Examiner as “the most fearlessly inventive, most audaciously virtuosic dancer-choreographer of his generation”, Stephen Petronio has choreographed commissioned works for the Ballet Frankfurt, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Maggio Danza Florence, London’s Ricochet Dance Company, the Hebbel Theater in Berlin and Lyon Opera Ballet.

Sydney Dance Company commissioned Petronio to create a full length work for the company’s 17 dancers when artistic director Graeme Murphy took a six month sabbatical in 2003. Underland is Petronio’s first full length work.

Underland unravels in a series of solos, duets, quartets and asymmetric ensemble formations. The work premiered in Sydney in May 2003 to extraordinary critical and audience acclaim.

With a reputation for creating sexy, edgy choreography, Petronio found the inspiration for Underland in the bitter-sweet songs of pop balladeer Nick Cave.

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“I set out to conceive a world shaped by a group of Nick Cave songs that I love and understood would create the feeling I wanted for Underland,” Petronio says.

With Nick Cave granting Petronio full access to all the raw tracks of the chosen songs, long-time Bad Seeds producer Tony Cohen and composer Paul Healy set about creating a unique and rich musical landscape featuring Bad Seeds and Birthday Party songs including Stagger Lee, Wild World, The Carny, Ma Sanctum, The Mercy Seat and The Weeping Song.

“This is not story ballet,” Petronio told the (sydney) magazine. “It’s surreal and expressionistic. I don’t do narrative dance.” When pressed, he described the production as “Mad Max meets Alice in Wonderland.”

The non-narrative production features a triptych of screens with stunning video imagery by visual designer Ken Tabachnick and video artist Mike Daly. The imagery provides a backdrop to the journey, the mood of which shifts in rhythm with Nick Cave’s music.

The projected imagery together with costumes by subversive New York designer Tara Subkoff (Imitation of Christ) completes the powerful and evocative world that is Underland.

In 2003 Sydney Dance Company won two Australian Dance Awards for Underland – Outstanding Performance by a Company and Outstanding performance by a Male Dancer (Bradley Chatfield).

Sydney Dance Company is Australia’s premier contemporary dance company and has built a strong and loyal following in New Zealand. The company last toured to New Zealand in 2003 with Ellipse, and previously presented Salome (2000), Free Radicals (1998), Beauty and the Beast (1997) and Berlin (1996).

Sydney Dance Company’s Underland is on stage at the ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE®, Auckland from November 10-13. Book at Ticketek on (09) 307 5000. Tickets are on sale now.

Review comments:

“Its intensity and emotional depth take hold in a partnership of dance, music and visuals that allow viewers to make their own interpretations. Everyone who can should see it. Perhaps more than once.” SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

“Nick Cave’s music is the key to Underland. Wildly and yearningly romantic while heading to hell in a handbasket, it niggles and jangles but also gets to the heart of the matter” THE AUSTRALIAN

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