NZ Dance News – September 2014

The New Zealand Dance Company was one of only nine crowdfunding initiatives launched by Spark (formerly known as Telecom) last month. Spark My Potential is a new crowdfunding programme helping New Zealanders unleash their potential, realise their dreams, and achieve their goals. The Company is proud to have been selected and thrilled to be supporting the potential and talent of one specific young man – Chris Ofanoa. They aim to raise $35,000 through Spark My Potential, to allow Chris to join them for a whole year as a 2015 apprentice. Chris seconded with the Company earlier in the year, understudying Justin Haiu, in Language of Living – and blew everyone away with his drive, commitment, innate talent, and beautiful dancing. For more information and to support this cause, go to: http://sparkmypotential.co.nz/project/letchrisdancewithnzdc.

The New Zealand Dance Company also hosted a successful Winter School recently, with participants immersed in a week of contemporary choreography, partnering technique, classical conditioning, and hip hop.

One Winter School student had this to say: “I enjoyed learning all the different exercises even though some were quite challenging and hard. Being able to dance at this Winter School has boosted my confidence levels and it has also made me push myself. This has been the best experience I have ever had.”

New Zealand Dance Company's winter school.

New Zealand Dance Company’s winter school.

At the New Zealand School of Dance, students are busy preparing for their Graduation Season, which will be held in their home theatre in Wellington, from November 19 to 29. Presented at the end of each year, Graduation Season is an important tradition at the New Zealand School of Dance. Students from the School’s full-time programme perform the work of iconic choreographers from the worlds of classical ballet and contemporary dance.

This year’s programme includes George Balanchine’s great masterpiece Concerto Barocco, excerpts from revered New Zealand dance theatre artist Douglas Wright’s RAPT, and the acclaimed choreographer Nils Christe’s Purcell Pieces. Also on the bill is Dutch choreographer Wessel Oostrum’s solo The Speech, danced to a monologue by Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictator. Tickets are available at www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz.

IDentity Dance Crew recently placed second at the 2014 HHI World Hip Hop Championships. Twice crowned National Champions, this is the second year running that the Crew have won the silver at the Championships. Performing in front of a full house at New Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Identity’s 29 dancers competed amongst 2,500, from 48 countries.

New Zealand School of Dance students Jessica Burt and Bian Chentang in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco. Photographed by Stephen A’Court.

New Zealand School of Dance students Jessica Burt and Bian Chentang in George Balanchine’s ‘Concerto Barocco.’ Photo by Stephen A’Court.

“Last year we were so stoked to win a silver medal in the adult division with our eight-man crew,” says IDentity Company spokesperson Andrew Cesan. “This year the victory was even sweeter, seeing students of ours go to a new level and see a 29-man crew pull off our authentic style. We enjoyed the process of creation and are excited to keep progressing the IDentity crew alongside the IDentity Company that will give the next generation a platform and opportunities like no other. Taking them from the studio to the world stage and showing them that anything is possible!”

New Zealand crews from The Palace also received placings, with Bubblegum taking out third place in the junior division and Duchesses winning silver in the varsity division.

New Zealand’s national Attitude Awards, now in its seventh year, celebrate excellence and achievements of disabled Kiwis, including talented artists, innovative businesses and courageous sportspeople. One of the finalists for this year, as voted by the New Zealand public, is Christchurch based Lyn Cotton, Artistic Director of Jolt Dance Company.

Lyn founded the mixed ability dance company with Fleur de Thier with the aim of producing work that celebrated diversity and challenged perceptions about dance and disability. Its youth company, Jolt Youth was established in 2007. Together Jolt Dance and Jolt Youth have created 10 major shows (including sell-out seasons in the Christchurch Body Festival), conferences, performances and special works for the Halberg Trust and Special Olympics.

“A huge amount of gratitude goes out to our sponsors and supporters who continue to commit to making the Attitude Awards a night to remember,” says Attitude Awards Trustee Dan Buckingham. This year’s winners will be announced at a televised black-tie gala on World Disability Day, December 3 at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre.

Touch Compass has been set a very special challenge: If they can raise $100,000 by 1 August, 2015, an anonymous donor will donate $175,000 to the company.

“This incredibly generous offer is a wonderful challenge and clearly from someone who cares about the company and wants to see us grow,” says Chairperson Phil Gibson. “Our goal is not only to achieve $100,000 by this time next year but to build a sustainable donation base to help us reach our goals.”

As New Zealand’s only professional inclusive dance company, Touch Compass’ art form is an exploration of the human interaction, where disabled and non-disabled dancers unite.

“Dancing with Touch Compass has enabled my exploration of physical diversity and further helped me crystallise my ideas of my disability by discovering my body’s limitations and possibilities through dance,” says Touch Compass dancer, Tess Connell.

If the company is able to reach its goal, Touch Compass will be able to retain its accessible dance studio, provide direct employment opportunities to dancers and help reach into regional areas and overseas. If you are able to support this important mission, donations can be made to Touch Compass Dance Trust, ASB: 12-3022-0388572-50. Alternatively, cheques can be written out to the above and mailed to: Touch Compass Dance Company, PO Box 33 1086, Takapuna, Auckland 0740, New Zealand.

The Dance Wellington Festival, presented in partnership with DANZ (Dance Aotearoa New Zealand) and Kowhiti Productions, will take place from November 5 to 23. Headlining this year’s festival is Parris Goebel and The Royal Family’s GOLDMYND, which premiered in Auckland in July with two sold out shows . It will be the award-winning dance crew’s first full-length dance theatre show outside of the Auckland region.  In addition to the performance, there will be community workshops, industry masterclasses and a forum. Dance Wellington Festival will be focused on participation and community.

“At this stage we are still working to confirm the programme for 2014, but we are excited at the prospect of coming up with a programme of dance events, workshops, and exhibitions,” says Festival Producer, Melissa Dodds . “We are also hoping to include a programme of dance films and are working with Merenia Gray to present her film Aphrodite Hine Ahu One into the programme.”

Please contact Melissa on anmsdproduction@gmail.comif you would like to participate in the Festival, or have dance events/activities/performances that you would like included under the umbrella. For more information, check out: www.dancewellington.co.nz.

Photo (top): NZSD Graduation Season, Jadyn Burt and Felix Sampson. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

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