Kiss and tell in story telling

 Chloe McCartan expresses her emotions in the latest production by UCOL’s performing arts students, of The Kiss. The choreography and musical score are being developed during rehearsals, with the first performance next week.
Chloe McCartan expresses her emotions in the latest production by UCOL’s performing arts students, of The Kiss. The choreography and musical score are being developed during rehearsals, with the first performance next week.
Conil Tod
Conil Tod
Briar Collard and Hannah Rohe
Briar Collard and Hannah Rohe
Jenay Tamati
Jenay Tamati

Narrating a story through movement, UCOL students are creating a unique performance never seen before and unlikely to be seen again.

Not relying on a set score or choreography, this will be a performance they can truly call their own. Emma Horsley gets a sneak preview of what is to come.

When is a dance not a dance? When it is a movement piece.

Which is what the students of UCOL's Diploma in Performing Arts are creating as their second semester performance.

The hour-long work called The Kiss is loosely based on chapter 7 of Julio Cortazar's Hopscotch. The director and programme leader is Jaime Dorner and concert pianist is Flavio Villani.

The score, the movement and the direction are being developed on the spot in a dynamic method that is being gently moulded to form the final treatment for the first performance next Thursday night.

"We let the students devise the movement and then I add the score, develop it a little and then move on to the next piece of the performance," says Villani.

The score is mainly original, with a few elements that Villani already had in his repertoire and with neither he nor Dorner leading, the collaborative work is throwing up surprisingly few challenges.

"It's created by everybody."

Villani has an impressive CV, having worked alongside international pianist Matteo Napoli, spent time at Conservatory I.Albeniz in Spain and being selected to represent New Zealand in the work of art featuring a carved Steinway by Michael Parekowhai for the Venice Biennale in 2011.

The choreography is being developed on the students' understanding of the text. As the text is broken down into moments, new material is generated and progressed.

As the students are not dancers the performance has been classed as a movement exercise, but watching them work it becomes clear that the lines are blurring between movement and dance.

Fluidity is apparent and position increases.

"Many stimuli are worked from, including physicalising actions in the text, responding to the musician, reacting to the musicality of the text and sometimes fleshing out the gestures associated with images, ideas and emotions present in the text," says Dorner.

This is movement theatre and emotional storytelling.

He says that although the students are not by and large dancers they are using their bodies to relate their vision and version of the text.

Dorner says they performed an ensemble dance for friends and family in June.

Movement teacher Liz Kirkman says the students have progressed through the year and have shown they are capable and motivated.

"Jaime and I co-led the ensemble dance assessment last semester and found the students were really forging ahead with challenging work that stretches themselves physically, emotionally and thematically."

The Kiss runs from August 8 to 11, from 7.30pm at UCOL Performing Arts Studio, 23 Queen St, Palmerston North.

Manawatu Standard