Seven dancers. One hour. A performance that will leave you breathless.
Black Grace are the type of dancers who make you realise just how athletic and powerful the artform really is. This isn't about being pretty or dainty; this is about leaving your mark and doing it with force.
Waka started as a 35-minute performance that truly wowed European audiences. Now, doubled in length, the company's artistic director Neil Ieremia has created a work that not only entertains but also leaves a powerful message.
The work explores the idea of hope, manifested as a raft. The idea that we are all on the earth to, at times, be carried, and on others to be the vessel. The dancers - Thomas Fonua, Sean MacDonald, Daniel McCarroll, Carl Tolentino, Sarah Baron, Amy Moxham and Zoe Watkins - convey the idea beautifully.
The stage is sparse - just tape markings on the floor and some stunning lighting. The dancers are, at times, even sparser. Their athletic torsos clearly on show as the audience see every muscle working to create to movements on stage until slowly, the costuming becomes modern, layered, more western.
Often there is almost no sound. No music, no effects, just the strangely gentle padding of the dancers' feet as they twist and turn on stage, accompanied by the odd clap or slap of this Pacific-inspired piece.
But then, the music will build and the audience is enveloped in the frenetic sprinting, leaping, jumping and twirling of the dancers. They move as one human machine, echoing the breaking of waves, the gentleness of floating and the pain of being ripped apart.
The movement happens like nothing you have seen before - arms flick and fly so quickly, they appears as just a blur, legs forcing the dancers up in the heavers, and over the top of shoulders and into waiting arms.
It is strong and it is elegant. And it is the perfect reminder just why this company holds such a unique place in New Zealand.
WHAT: Black Grace - Waka
WHERE: Maidment Theatre, Auckland
WHEN: Until August 29
- © Fairfax NZ News