The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Review: Pōhutu

by librarykris on June 7, 2019 in Dance

Poster image for Pōhutu. We see the unclothed backs of two women lying on their sides. One is curled on top of the other. Pōhutu is a multidimensional contemporary dance piece that thrives in liminal space. Drawing parallels between Choreographer Bianca Hyslop’s grandmother’s diagnosis of Alzheimers and the geothermal landscape she grew up in, it’s an unsettling and utterly beautiful work.

The beginning and end sequences draw gasps from the audience. The middle sequences contain some of the most compelling imagery I’ve seen in performance. Hyslop and fellow performer and devisor Rosie Tapsell stride, leap, slink, and roll through the set and light projections by Rowan Pierce. Their movement is turbulent, sometimes emphasised by judicious use of strobe lighting. Their partner work plays with gravity and mass, evoking geysers, rivers, stone and earthquakes. The costumes by Emma Ransley peel away while translucence and opacity alternate. They are enchanting. Haze becomes another performer settling heavily on stage, drifting out towards the audience. Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield is the Mātanga Mātauranga Māori and this is infused throughout the performance. 

Pōhutu is a multidimensional contemporary dance piece that thrives in liminal space. I feel the truth of the whakataukī Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua as I watch. The past, the present, and the future exist at the same time in the same space. We walk backward into our futures building on the knowledge from the past. All the elements cohere in balance.


Content warning: includes strobe lighting, haze, nudity.

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