Archives for the month of: February, 2013

Over a short period of a few years, all of my immediate family, including myself have packed up belongings, newly produced children, and fled my hometown, Wellington. The dozen or so of us are now globally scattered: Berlin, London, Santiago, Sydney, Auckland, Ongaonga. So, at times of significance, such as birthdays, weddings and Christmas, technology is called upon to tether a connection for a few short moments. Everybody knows this technology offers less than a satisfactory substitute for close, corporeal contact; everybody knows it’s a compromise.

This work directly addresses my not uncommon personal experience, and how it relates to current sociopolitical environments. With  encouragement from movements such as the Arab Spring, Occupy, the plight of Pussy Riot and even the Tea Party, communities as well as individuals are questioning fundamentals of our societies, where we are headed, and questioning, too, a previous unfortunate willingness to agree. I believe that my personal experience is an epitomisation of the type of compromise that people have begun to rail against.

It has been a year since this work’s original conception. Initially concerned that it may have lost some of its original vigour and poignancy after a perceived lull in overt political retaliation in 2012, over the course of its second development I have been able to see that the themes of An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree persist to be current and relevant.

Unashamedly from a young person’s perspective,  this work ultimately speaks of our desire for something much more human and honest.

Oliver Connew / February 2013

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Martyn Bradbury for http://www.tumeke.blogspot.com

22 Feb 2013

 

‘Unashamedly from a young person’s perspective, this work ultimately speaks of our desire for something much more human and honest.’-Oliver Connew

Doesn’t it just.

So, contemporary dance is an art form that I’ve never really ‘got’. But, I’m starting to wonder if that’s simply because I’ve never seen any good contemporary dance. I went to the opening show of ‘An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree’ and found myself engaged in the show in a way that I’ve not experienced with dance before- it really got me thinking. It certainly helps that the themes dealt with by the piece are all pretty juicy.

The show was inspired by director Oliver Connew’s experience of unsatisfactory long-distance communication when his whole family left Wellington and spread across the globe. The show explores these mediums of communication in the context of the political unrest of 2012.

The show begins with a t.v. playing live Al Jazeera, which is so good, I would have been quite satisfied by just watching it for 45 minutes. I was just getting to the point of thinking ‘at what point does us sitting here watching the news become awkward?’ when the dancers emerged. The 45 minute show moves through a series of phases inspired by different ways humans connect in contemporary times; t.v., newspapers, skype and the internet. Each had its own energy and combined, they leave you with a cocktail of feelings. There was frustration and apathy; disconnection and connection; confusion and peace. The show is excellently paced; frantic and electric with perfectly placed moments of stillness.

There are some beautiful images which are burnt into my mind. Newspapers are an brilliantly diverse prop and these dancers really play with them and come up with some beautiful uses. The added bonus is that if you are someone who would very much enjoy seeing a couple of copies of the New Zealand Herald destroyed, then this is the most beautiful way you could imagine that happening.

This show is striking and unique. If you enjoy thinking about how we connect in contemporary times or you’ve ever felt frustrated or inspired by it, then this show will speak volumes to you. I feel like I’ve had and intellectual experience, which I think is probably the first time contemporary dance has done that to me. It’s like I’ve had a really great conversation over a couple of hours and glasses of wine with someone who knows tonnes about the subject and yet, not a word was spoken. I would happily watch it a second time. Well done guys-seriously powerful stuff.

Jenny Stevenson for Theatreview.co.nz
21 Feb 2013

A DESIRE FOR SOMETHING MUCH MORE HUMAN AND HONEST

How refreshing to see the work of an emerging choreographer, fresh out of dance school, make the leap across the yawning chasm of the landscape of “self” that has pre-occupied a whole generation of young choreographers before him.

Instead, the director/choreographer of An Unfortunate Willingness to Agree, Oliver Connew, has taken his own personal experience of the global dispersing of his family unit and has deftly woven it into the political milieu of the times – traversing the graphic images that have accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings, the moral stance taken by the Occupy movement, the subversive protest of Pussy Riot and the corrosive politics of extreme conservatism.

He and his two collaborators, dancers Zara Killeen-Chance and Gareth Okan use their highly-trained bodies not to present a bravura display of dance, but as a conduit for energy and its transmission between themselves – through a spare vocabulary of movement.  Connew sets out to call into question society’s passive acquiescence and the all-embracing world of technology that can let people stand back and not get involved in, what should by rights, deeply affect them.

Set against the background of a live Al Jazeera broadcast replete with talking heads and destruction in equal measure, the dancers begin as automatons – emerging from the audience and gravitating in stiff-gaited steps, towards technology – represented by the television – techno-energy informing their every movement.

The dance progresses through an orgy of newspaper-induced frenzy before Connew makes a live-Skype connection in a place of dimmed-down lighting and no movement.  Instead the audience unwittingly conspires in super-imposing the chirpy and disembodied voices emitting from the halting Skype conversation onto the flickering images of the people on the television screen – who are earnestly discussing the controversies of the day.

The two male dancers perform, connected by an umbilical cord of computer wire – that would appear to enable them to transmit energy “down the line” towards each other.  Gradually the work reaches a point of resolution, as Killeen-Chance and Okan embrace in a clinch and perform a slo-mo dance of connection until the television is finally turned off.

The music of Marika Pratley and the lighting design of Amber Molloy are effective elements in this brief sojourn into what Connew describes as “a young person’s perspective” and a “desire for something much more human and honest”.