Review: Straight Laced

ANN HUNT
Last updated 09:59 04/03/2014

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Straight Laced by Footnote New Zealand Dance & ChoreoCo
Bats Theatre, until March 8
Reviewed by Ann Hunt

This production is the first by newly restructured Footnote New Zealand Dance (formerly Footnote Dance), under its new general manager, Richard Aindow.

For this season, two Footnote dancers (Manu Reynaud and Luigi Vescio) are supplemented by six others chosen from the annual intensive ChoreoLab in January this year.

Jana Castillo, Sarah Gatzonis, Michael Gudgeon, Phoebe Heyhoe, Serene Lorimer and Lucy Marinkovich are under short-term contracts to ChoreoCo.

The concept for Straight Laced is by New Zealand dancer/ choreographer Craig Bary (over from Australia).

This window on to the world of sex and sensuality illustrates the effects a predominantly heterosexual society has on young people trying to discover and establish their own sexuality.

The form is primarily that of contemporary dance, but an aspect of theatre is utilised in that some of the characters speak, with varying degrees of success.

In a club setting, the choreography comprises solos, duets and small group dances, and is very grounded. Bary has stated that he has strived for a more relaxed way of moving where nothing is too 'finished'.

This interesting and brave concept can make for heightened realism, but ironically, with less control, can appear sloppy. Fortunately, this occurs only occasionally here.

Bary acknowledges the work's substantial artistic input from the dancers, who are fully committed to their roles and all get their moment to shine.

While gay sexuality is still not fully accepted in parts of New Zealand society, it must be acknowledged that we have come a long way towards this goal. Yet there is little joy in evidence here.

It appears we are still back in "the love that dare not speak its name" days.

A less laboured approach is required in some passages and especially in Vescio's anguished spasms in the closing sequence.

Moments impress, including Gudgeon's solo with its lovely expansive movement gradually getting tighter and smaller as societal pressure closes in, and in the stunning Castillo's short, fierce solo with its kung fu-like leaps.

But over-amplification diminished the apt and energetic original music by Nigel Collins.

The potential is there. A re-working might make for a more subtle and satisfying depiction.

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- The Dominion Post

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