Review: Limbs Dance Company in Lift Music, State Opera House, Wellington, 17-19 October 1985
There is an exciting excellence about the eleven Limbs dancers in their latest capital season, and there are also two of the best dances they have ever shown us.
The programme is eclectic in its choice of themes and styles of modern dance – a little tap dance, some hard-edged jazz, flowing contemporary movement, and intent post-modernism.
Former Limbs member Douglas Wright has created a beautifully sculptural dance for the company in Halcyon, a dance which whispers of kingfishers and the wind as it builds to its climax. set to a Vivaldi concerto for violins and cello, the dance echoes the music at times yet tells its own story of a woman and the burdens of fate.
Dancers flash, leap, climb on each others’ bodies and pause for a moment in their paths in poses reminiscent of Rodin’s sculptures.
A lyrical pas de deux for Joanne Kelly and Bruce Hopkins casts Hopkins in an uncharacteristically debonair role. Kelly’s flowing lines remind us of her New Zealand Ballet days but the plot is all Mills and Boon romanticism, the title Lift Music suggesting the setting for choreographer/director Mary Jane O’Reilly’s fantasy.
O’Reilly’s second work is Brian Tries, a witty triad for toddler, teenager, and awkward adult. Hopkins has the impeccable timing of the nonchalant clown in this work and his diapered bottom is much in evidence before being eclipsed by a ragtag chorus line in their Friday night get up.
A tap dance interlude paves the way for Swing. Three lively characters in a sophisticated game of flirtation dress up for a dance hall frolic.
Completing this group of dances is Concussion, recently seen on Radio With Pictures as a rock video. This makes use of hinged falls and unexpected rhythms captured by arms or legs and was choreographed by former Limbs member Brian Carbee.
Most riveting, though, is Vigil Switch, choreographed by American guest John McLaughlin. His vocabulary is quirky and complex, each dancer’s pattern and gestures different from another’s. When two dancers come together there are matches and mismatches, resulting in moments of viciousness which can make you gasp, or moments of beauty which are totally unexpected, but there is always tension and a feeling of challenge.
This is the longest season Limbs has ever offered Wellington audiences – it runs for two more nights at the Opera House. In the wake of its recent fire, Limbs has many debts to overcome so anyone who is at all curious about the company’s skills has two more chances to discover what fine dancers they are.
Published in The Dominion newspaper, Wellington, 18 October 1985