Caroline Diara is a French artist who has just arrived in New Zealand a few weeks ago. The 13th Floor sent her to the opening performance of Limbs@40, part of the Tempo Dance Festival 2017. Here is her report. (Best read with a French accent in your mind).
Limbs, movements, feeling, instincts are those elements which make us living. If life would have a recipe, nobody would know it but we may probably say that serendipity would be another element to ad.
I am traveling through the world. I land in Auckland the 9th of August this year. I love dance. The Tempo Dance Festival is occurring when I started to say to myself : “What about the dance culture in Auckland?” I met a member of the 13th Floor who invited me to go watching the Limbs Dance Company show. He books my ticket. The d-evening, yesterday night, I sat down raw G seat number 9. “Such a good feeling to seat down again in a theatre”, I told myself with emotion. A tall man came and sat just front of me. It has been such a long time that I haven’t enjoyed a dance show that I take my courage with both hands and ask him to switch his seat with his tiny wife … which they did. I feel a bit shame to have ask, but now the shadow and the silence are falling in the theatre, I feel right and ready to live my first neo-zelanders experience.
I had no idea of who was the choreographer, what was the theme, why this show was happening, who were the dancers, what was the title of the show. It’s also my way to dive into the imagination of the show without names, numbers, influences from the outside. The first piece is danced by a group of young dancers. Dressing with a green pattern body legging. Birds are whistling all around us. I can see myself in the New Zealand mountains, very early in the morning when the air is still white and watering.
I am surprise that the dancers doesn’t have the common body shape than I have seen in dancers thin and fit. I found their jumps heavy, and their play are not as professional as I was expected. But slowly, at the same time as the act occurs, my eyes doesn’t see imperfections anymore. My imagination and my mind start slowly to slip into their world. The magic is appearing on me. Momentarily, the music getting more powerful and the bodies move all around the stage creating a story a story which start to have words, feeling and sense. It feels like the dancers getting better but it’s me who getting deeper into the show. The second act pulled me directly into a juvenile age where boys and girls meet and discover sexuality through the unexpected body of the opposite gender. They dance in couple in articulating their bodies with curiosity and let go. The red or dark pink of their clothes reminds me the loss of the virginity in the lightness and the unconsciousness . They are beautiful, young, and fair.
The third dance breaks the atmosphere in jumping in a dynamic and loud 70’s four-women “sisters” dance. The theme is more “metal” and cold than the two first acts but that is not wrong. It brings power and dynamism to the show. Now, I can really feel the 70’s-80’s inspiration. The tight braid, the sexy grey body legging, the repetitive and robotic movements and small gestures really precise. I heard some women around me and far behind released cheerly few “wouhouh” like what they were seeing reminded them the time they were young and they were dancing and partying on those beats. The crowd is now moving their shoulders and applauding on the rhythm. I smile like the others, I have my idea about the choreographer : she should have been a woman to show so beautifully and just the emotion of the the female body.
The fourth act calmed everybody to a serious atmosphere where the simply beats mixed with the violin let the three dancer’s bodies in a deep and perfect harmony. The next act shows a alone woman top less, dressing with a yellow Spanish skirt style. This first fixed image look like a famous icon : she seating down on a chair, her back facing us : it’s enough. I look to my right and to my left. The women faces In the audience are stoic and I can imagine that their minds dreaming far from their seats. This image depose the deep sensation to be a woman is being as stronger as fragile.
The show finishes with a childhood dance scene between four young dancers. Two men and two women hop and jump around the stage. They cross their hands, their legs, their all body with the lightness of the youth and the smile of the summer. Yes, the beautiful Nature is calling, and our symbiosis with Her as well !
The shows ending. The audience stands up and applauds the artists and I can also feel that they are grateful to have seen this; I can feel that this show was not an “any” show but special. The lady next to me comes to my ears and asks me with a big smile if I liked it. I can’t say “no”. All the atmosphere of the theatre is under magic. She entrusts me that the couple I asked to switch their seats are Mary Jane O’Reilly the director of the company, choreographer and dancer and Philip O’Reilly. When all the people is left, she keep telling me how the Limbs Dance Company changed the face of the dance in New Zealand, 40 years ago. She is proud and grateful to Mary Jane O’Reilly and the company to have embraced the reality of the emotion and broke the traditional dance. That the Limbs Dance Company came up to a time where the New Zealand people wanted to propose their way, far from the colonial traditional culture.
Through time and knowing nothing about it, I can still feel how right The Limbs Dance Company is right to dance in balance between the floor and the sky. The truth of the beauty cross time and this show have showed it very well.