Martyn Bradbury for

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.