By Leah Victoria
New Zealand dance creatives Shona McCullagh, Ross McCormack (Matter) and Lina Limosani (Whispers From Pandora's Box) have come together to fabricate a theatrical exposition into the depths of human nature.
Matter is a work that is inspired by several multi-disciplinary artists and draws on relationships with different environments, while Whispers From Pandora's Box delves into the portrayal of good and evil in a spectacular black comedy described as a mash up of Kill Bill and Elizabeth I.
You are invited to experience The New Zealand Dance Company's latest surreal and action packed production The Absurdity Of Humanity, opening on Wednesday 24th August 2016 at Auckland’s Q Theatre.
I caught up with dancer Chrissy Kokiri to hear just how surreal a night we can expect!
How long have you been dancing and how did you get started?
I’ve been dancing since I was about 16. I took up high school dance in my last year and then ended up studying contemporary dance at uni later on.
So during your studies for your Bachelor of Performing Arts degree you were solely focused on contemporary dance, is that right?
Yeah we would do a contemporary class and a ballet class almost every day and then we’d work on choreography. But yeah it is a major in contemporary dance, although we did do a bit of ballet, I’m definitely not a ballet dancer at all!
Is it purely contemporary dance that you specialise in now or are you still involved in other genres?
Yeah The New Zealand Dance Company is a contemporary dance company so that’s all we do.
What is it that attracted you to this type of dance?
Well to be honest I didn’t really know what I wanted to do during high school, and a Unitec teacher came into school and suggested I come to an after school class, Katie Burton her name was. She’s still a tutor at Unitec now. So she suggested I go along and see if I liked it. I had never even seen contemporary dance before. I did the audition, and I liked it, but I also didn’t really have any interest in anything else so I took it up!! I kind of just did it because I could and I got in. I had never really found anything that I was good at before that! Over the years I became to absolutely love it!
How long have you been involved with The New Zealand Dance Company?
I first did a secondment with them when I was in third year at uni, and now I’m in my third year working with them!
What is it about the company that you enjoy so much?
Oh the people!! 100%! We have an amazing team here! It’s a really safe environment that we have here, we really have to have trust in one another. It’s such a big deal when you’re dancing, in front of people you can feel very vulnerable. It’s scary getting up to show them what you have created and all that sort of stuff. We also get to work with lots of different Choreographers which I love. Each one has their own way and different styles of working so I love that we get the opportunity to work with so many different people, both New Zealand and International Choreographers!
Have you toured internationally with the company yourself?
Yeah! We’ve been to Europe twice and performed in the Holland Dance Festival this year and in 2014, and we also did Germany this year. We’ve done an Australasian tour and obviously we tour New Zealand too! It’s cool getting to travel the world and go overseas while getting paid for it!
Describe your typical week as a dancer
We work Monday to Friday 9-5. Each morning we do an hour and a half of technique class to warm us up. That’s different each day, sometimes we do ballet, sometimes contemporary or even sometimes yoga. Every now and then we do a little Hip Hop class which is cool. Then we have 3 two hour sessions of either creating new work or practicing work we’ve already made! Sometimes we will do Saturdays if we are a little behind, or just needing a bit of extra practice.
What has been your most favourite production to work on and what did you love most about it?
Oooh yeah that’s a hard one! I really enjoyed the last show we did! Lumina.
It was a show that incorporated a lot of use of light and music so it wasn’t just a black box with dancing. I really loved how we got to interact with the different mediums! It was also a physically challenging show and a lot of work went into it!
I’m told The Absurdity Of Humanity is a bit of a dark comedy exploring human nature. Is it a mash up of acting, music and dance?
Yeah kind of, but there’s no video projection in this show like others. It’s two different choreographers that have created two different works. The one that we have already done by Lina Limosani is totally like a dark comedy. It’s funny but also creepy! We’ve got clown vibes and stuff! But really it’s meant to be more funny than dark! And the next piece we’ve only just started this week so we haven’t really made the work yet, we’re just kind of trying to embody the qualities that he’s (Ross McCormack) gonna want us to portray.
What role do you play in this latest collaboration?
In Lina’s work, I’m one of the clowns! I just do a hell of a lot of dancing! I don’t really have a character as such. Some people have more character based roles and others have more dancing roles. And in Ross’ work, I don’t really know yet as we are just getting started!
If you had to convince someone who has never experienced contemporary dance before to come to the show, what would you tell them?
Oooh! Um!!!! I’d say just be open! It’s really funny, and I feel like this work especially that we are doing now has a really good mix of contemporary dancing but a good narrative so you can easily understand it. One of the works is easily digestible for anybody really, and the second work will branch out and be more abstract. So it’s a great mix! Sometimes the shows can be very literal, and others really abstract and maybe people can get confused and not know what’s going on!
So would you say this show is a good for a virgin to contemporary dance?!
Yeah definitely! And if you don’t understand what’s happening, don’t worry about it! Just maybe enjoy that dancing or the music! There are so many elements if you are struggling to understand what’s happening! Trying to figure out what it’s about, I don’t think that’s really important! It’s totally open to interpretation and just enjoy it for what it is!
When does the show start?
We open on 24th August and run for a week at the Q Theatre in Auckland! You should definitely come check it out!!
The Absurdity of Humanity
August 24 - 27: Q Theatre, Auckland
Tickets via Q Theatre