Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Song and Theatre Gala Final

Short+Sweet  Song   Short+Sweet Theatre

What a fabulous four weeks of short and sweet performances it has been but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end!

The quality of this year’s theatre entries really was very excellent; voting for just the one favorite was nearly an impossible task and I definitely did not envy the judges’ position – it was certainly a close race, in my opinion.  I was extremely pleased with the acts that made it to the Song and Theatre Final as they were all works I thoroughly enjoyed.

A few highlights for me: Dial One’s Annie & Joshua was just as delightful to watch the second time round; I found their encore performance more amusing especially their animated expressions and gestures – it really does celebrate the musical genre in all its glory.  Similarly it was enjoyable watching Dan Borengasser’s The Third Person again; the addition of the fog machine was a brilliant move as it added another comedic layer to the story.

Reading Lamouche by Finnius F. Teppett had an entertaining narrative, was well directed and featured a great cast so no surprises this act made it to the Finals – I liked the subtle yet effective changes that had been incorporated.  Pete Malicki’s V.D. came out on top, sweeping the most awards at the end of the night and it is completely deserved, I say – it is a superbly written piece, performed exceptionally by Jess Holly Bates who is such a skilled performer.

I was quite confident that The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts’ The Adventure of Kazu & Kengo would be in the Finals just on the audience applause alone.  The two ninjas are extremely likeable characters and I think their hilarious and farcical antics would attract a fanbase – there is definitely potential for further development, in my opinion.

And that’s a wrap!  It has been an absolute ride and I’ve had a ball of a time – thank you to Alex Ellis for organizing the tickets and thank you to all the talented people on the stage and behind the scenes for a wonderful month of bite-sized theatre.

Congratulations to all the acts that made it to the Finals and congrats also to those who left as award winners! (winners listed on the Short+Sweet Facebook page)

Here are my reviews of the individual heats:
Short+Sweet Song Showcase
Short+Sweet Theatre Week 1
Short+Sweet Theatre Wildcard
Short+Sweet Theatre Week 2

For all my Short+Sweet reviews from the entire season click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Theatre Week 2

Short+Sweet TheatreIt’s been a fun month of snappy, quickfire performances and sadly it will all be over soon – I can’t believe Short+Sweet is about to come to a close!  Week 2, the final heat of the Theatre category opened on Tuesday and like the other two rounds that preceded it, the evening was brimming with an entertaining assortment of plays for us to sink our teeth into.  Here’s what I thought:

Feature Wall 5/5
Two seemingly ordinary besties share a morbid night-time activity and looks at what happens when two women scorned take matters in to their own hands.  The narrative is superbly paced and takes a macabre twist when we finally see what lies beyond the curtained backdrop.  A humorously dark piece which suggests that sometimes revenge can be best served in another way other than cold.

Where You’d Least Expect 5/5
A pair of fellow nervous wallflowers meet at a “party” and amiss the awkward social situation of their surroundings forge an unexpected connection.  The performers are perfectly cast, delivering great comic tension and a tangible awkwardness that was a delight to watch.  This charming play is extremely endearing and a highly amusing alternate to the typical romantic comedy.

Hongi 2/5
A Maori conman easily dupes a gullible Pakeha in to participating in several “free” games of heads or tails.  The latter gets completely sucked in to the conman’s ploy even though it is glaringly obvious that he is being tricked in to giving away his money.  This comedy based on a true story is entertaining enough however I found the repetitive nature of it got a little tiring towards the end.

Spidermen 4/5
Two male spiders moan and share stories about their hungry and horny wives.  We soon learn that in the world of spiders, the stereotypical gender roles are reversed – the men are over-sensitive creatures craving intimacy while the women are alpha (fe)males with an irascible temperament.  A cheeky and humorous play that effectively puts an arachnid spin into everyday relationship scenarios.

V.D. 5/5
This solo centers around Sophie, a cynical and overly suspicious borderline crazy cat lady who has been single on Valentine’s Day for the past sixteen years.  A bouquet of flowers from an anonymous admirer sends her on a tailspin and we follow her as she prepares and counts down to this blind date.  The narrative is incredibly well written with a good dose of self-deprecating humor and is superbly performed; I particularly enjoyed how the story switches between the first and third person perspective.

Our Last Holiday 5/5
Tim, a struggling filmmaker is poring through scripts over shots of whiskey when Helen arrives to collect her things.  The two ex-lovers clearly had a rocky relationship and a bitter end but their argument is cut short at the arrival of another visitor.  A cleverly crafted piece with a brilliant twist and emotionally stirring resolution, this moving piece ends the first half of the evening on a high.

Fruit Salad 4/5
A naive and free-spirited father seeks help from his daughter when he unwittingly gets involved in a drug scandal.  As the narrative unfolds, it is evident that the role of parent and child has reversed as the daughter pleas desperately with her father to behave responsibly.  A riotous tale with great comedic value, this piece is one of the most entertaining short stories in the bill.

Lust Is Blind 3/5
If our body parts and organs could talk, what would they say?  This cute and quirky play explores this very question in an unorthodox love story which involves jealousy, confusion and eventually escape.  It does take a while to build up and to fully connect with who’s who but apart from that this was a clever piece using creative storytelling and performed enthusiastically by a talented young cast.

The Blue Balloon 4/5
A fanciful story which explores the impact a mystical blue balloon has on an entire community.  The concept is a fascinating one – it explores an alternate reality in one’s state of mind but with a cast that’s almost a dozen large, there is a lot to take in and at times the action appeared rushed and slightly disorganized.  Logistics aside, this is a thought provoking piece with some interesting characters and I thought the inclusion of a live soundtrack was a brilliant touch.

Last Drinks 5/5
Set in a bar, a man can’t help but strike a conversation with a woman when she walks in wearing a wedding gown.  What starts off as a regular enough verbal exchange begins to head in to absurd territory when the two characters learn more about each others’ past and what has brought them to that very moment.  This piece is simple in concept but is an absolute gem of a short story due to the excellent script and engaging performances from the cast.

Lucky C*nt-ry 4/5
Closing the evening is a gripping two hander which asks us to “consider this glorious country”.  The cast portray multiple characters who are meant to represent your everyday ordinary people in New Zealand and explores what encompasses the Kiwi identity and our sense of belonging.  This proudly local production is a riveting watch; the two performers are skilled chameleons, transitioning in to the different characters with great ease.

Overall, another enjoyable night of bite-sized theatre with some really polished performances across the board.  Personally I felt the Theatre heats housed the strongest works – there were some truly exceptional productions and I hope in future some will get the opportunity to develop their works further.  I can’t wait to see who makes it to the Gala Final!

Short+Sweet Theatre will be at the Herald Theatre until June 30th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, June 18 – Saturday, June 22 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 22 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 25 – June 29 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 30 (3pm & 7:30pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Theatre Wildcard

Short+Sweet TheatreFrom the devil formulating an alternative plan for conquering the world to a blind date turning in to a combative court case, there was certainly a good mix in this year’s Theatre Wildcard round.  I particularly liked that there was a good amount of comedies as lighthearted plays sit better in a late afternoon weekend time slot.  Here’s what I thought:

The Antichrist Cometh 4/5
A couple are getting ready for a dinner party when an unexpected discovery involving the numbers 6-6-6 causes a drastic change in plans.  A cleverly written and cheeky piece which entertains the possibility that the devil could just be an average man, coexisting incognito among us.

Jim 4/5
Two people in a thirty-eight year old marriage candidly share with the audience how each coped with the devastating news that one of them has cancer.  Incredibly moving and heartwarming, I thought this style of storytelling was highly effective and packed an emotional punch.

Travel in Draos 2/5
A regular train ride becomes a little bit more interesting when a Russian man talks about his very unorthodox profession with an English backpacking couple.  This piece had an intriguing premise with great potential but unfortunately the narrative was a little too open-ended for my liking and left me a bit confused.

Geeta’s First World Problems 5/5
Geeta is an “urbanized woman of Indian descent” who because of this dual identity finds herself caught between two cultural worlds.  A thought-provoking and engaging one woman monologue about being faced with a cultural identity crisis and the internal struggle that comes along with it.

Somewhere Between The Sky and The Sea 5/5
A young composer has written the perfect violin concerto and in his quest to get the world’s greatest violinist to play it, he meets the girl of his dreams and as the narrative unfolds, a love triangle forms.  The story is told through narration and well-timed hilarious commentary and is a superbly crafted piece.

‘Games’ 3/5
When a game of “Guess Who?” between two sisters starts to become a little too personal, their relationship unravels and we see just how far one of them will go to win.  The entire narrative is structured as an escalating conversation between the two siblings which I thought was very well scripted with great comedic value.

This Could Be The Start 3/5
Everything is going wrong in Sarah’s life but her new upbeat Wellingtonian flatmate tries to convince her that she is not alone and that it is not all bad.  An amusing slice-of-life-esque comedy about looking at the bright side of a mid-life crisis.

Baggage 5/5
A darker version of your typical “boy meets girl” scenario involving an unsuspecting yet clearly ominous suitcase.  This anti-rom com is a brilliantly written work and the perfect representation of a short and sweet play, in my opinion.

The Third Person 5/5
What if you had a personal narrator who faithfully followed and described your every move in life as well as your surroundings?  This witty and entertaining piece explores the idea that everyone has a plot that must be narrated.

Duelling Judges 3/5
Two headstrong and opinionated judges meet on a blind date and inevitably aren’t able to resist bringing their work practices to the dining table.  An energetic and humorous work performed enthusiastically by the cast.

Overall, a nice varied selection of plays and an outstanding effort all round; some works certainly could have given the Week 1 group a run for their money!  The results of the votes are already in – congrats to the teams behind The Antichrist Cometh and The Third Person for making it to the Gala Final!

Short+Sweet Theatre will be at the Herald Theatre until June 30th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, June 18 – Saturday, June 22 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 22 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 25 – June 29 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 30 (3pm & 7:30pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Theatre Week 1

Short+Sweet Theatre The final category for Short+Sweet Festival has kicked off and after an eclectic showcase of quickfire song and dance this past couple of weeks, it’s time for some bite-sized theatre.  Week 1 features a generous bill of eleven acts and get ready for quite the tasty theatrical spread as it is a fantastic line up!  Here’s what I thought:

The Birthday 4/5
A fast-paced whodunit story told without spoken word.  A glitzy party takes a turn when the birthday boy dies midway during the festivities – silent mayhem unfolds and everyone starts to point the finger of blame.  With no dialogue, this play relies on the actors’ non-verbal cues and the visual landscape to tell the story and although at times the action does get a little messy due to the large cast, it is an entertaining watch and definitely a great homage to the silent film genre.

Out From Under With Mary 4/5
This engaging two hander sees how an aversion to rain and alleged drug use bring a homeless woman and a suburban house wife together.  The two women are at odds initially but eventually they manage to form an unexpected camaraderie – the development of this unlikely bond and brilliant use of  multi-syllabic words along the way make for an interesting narrative.  A cleverly written and well cast piece that will leave you feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Irish Stew 3/5
A low key slice of life tale which conveys how things that may get lost in translation can still somehow make sense between two soul mates.  Lauretta and Carlton are an absent-minded couple who go on a hunt for what starts off as an Irish shoe but subsequently keeps changing to different objects that sound similar.  This piece uses clever wordplay and is a charming look at a loving relationship that has blossomed over the years.

A Glorious Act 4/5
This retrospective doco transports us to 1933 and relates the horrific tragedy and brave sacrifice of 10-year-old Frances Mason, “New Zealand’s daughter brave”.  Told from the perspective of three witnesses and using visual aids, this “wondrous story” is incredibly moving and absolutely gut-wrenching.  This work packs an emotional punch which is an impressive effort considering the limited time frame.

The World’s Worst Fight 5/5
If you ever wondered what actually went down between Adam and Eve at earth’s creation, this is it.  This hilarious anti-rom com portrays the man and woman in clichéd gender roles – Adam is the “typical male” who is easily distracted and comfortable with how things are while Eve is the stereotypical nagging girlfriend who is critical of her man’s every move.  A cheeky take and contemporary spin on the world’s first couple, this piece is a bag of laughs.

Walking Shadow 4/5
A “tragic drama” set in a theatre, a scheduled table read goes wrong when the cast are late and Martin, an actor past his prime wanders in uninvited.  The young director and aging actor engage in a heated discussion of the then and now of the theatre – the more they disagree, the more aggravated Martin becomes; as the narrative unravels, the tension and suspense steadily increases.  This nail-biting play is superbly paced with credible performances by the two performers.

Staged Madness 5/5
A tongue-in-cheek piece about an actress who, in acknowledging the audience, causes us to wonder what is real and what is staged.  Kate Vox, a familiar face in the local theatre scene, plays herself and tries to convince her co-star that they are in a play while he tries to convince her that she is suffering from a breakdown.  A wildly entertaining work which breaks down the Fourth Wall in a refreshing new way while effectively weaving some witty meta-humor in to the “script”.

After. Life. 3/5
This dark play is centered around an alternate idea on where we go when we die – what if it isn’t heaven or hell but something else altogether?  The recently deceased titular character is faced with a constant “heads or tails” (quite literal) tug of war which he battles out with an unexplained enigmatic entity.  A fun and quirky view on the afterlife that will leave you ever so slightly disturbed and confused.

Reading Lamouche 5/5
Another table read setting where an impassioned director tries to spark some enthusiasm in his disinterested cast.  His attempts to persuade them that “art requires sacrifice” falls on deaf ears particularly when a humble backstage hand unwittingly becomes the star of the play.  A highly entertaining piece with great comedic value and an excellent cast – they were a clear crowd favorite.

Storming The Castle 5/5
An off-beat two hander featuring a wannabe-cool father and his estranged son who reluctantly seeks his dad’s advice on how to attract the girl of his dreams.  The narrative makes great use of pop culture references and the two performers are superbly cast, playing off each other effortlessly.  This comedy is irreverent, unorthodox and “a little bit wrong” but extremely well crafted and very enjoyable.

Zooquatic 5/5
Closing the evening is a cute and eccentric tale about a zebra, shark and an amusing-looking yet adorable “ze-raffe”.  This oddball threesome become a family due to the strangest of circumstances and we are taken along on the journey.  Charming and compelling, this delightful piece is an unconventional story that celebrates two conventional, very relatable themes – love and family.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a stellar ensemble of plays – it was certainly a very difficult vote as I had many favorites!  Hopefully there will be additional acts sent to the Final as there are definitely more than two that are deserving to be there.  Looking forward to checking out what the Wildcard and Week 2 heats have to offer now!

Short+Sweet Theatre will be at the Herald Theatre until June 30th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, June 18 – Saturday, June 22 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 22 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 25 – June 29 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 30 (3pm & 7:30pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Song Showcase

Short+Sweet  SongThe second category of quickfire theatre kicked off last night and it’s one I have personally been looking forward to being a bit of a musical geek!  The bill is not as plentiful as what was presented to us during Short+Sweet Dance but it was still an enjoyable lineup all the same.  Here’s what I thought:

Annie & Joshua 5/5
A punchy rom-com set in a hotel lobby where a humble bellboy and the hotel’s receptionist allow their imaginations to sweep them away on a whirlwind romance of over-the-top proportions.  This “music-omedy” is the most faithful to the musical genre out of all the acts with archetypal expressive musical numbers, exaggerated gestures and melodic dialogue, all delivered brilliantly by the two performers who are adept vocalists.  A superbly written, wonderfully amusing and incredibly enjoyable piece – a great start to the evening!

What Love Can Be 3/5
This sombre and emotive piece goes behind closed doors and looks at what really goes on between an outwardly happy couple in a long-term relationship. Emma wrestles between wanting to please her disapproving, passive aggressive boyfriend and yearning to break free of his controlling grip – she expresses this struggle effectively through two vulnerable vocal performances.  Where I think this piece could improve on is the dialogue to song ratio; I felt the dialogue needn’t be as lengthy as the emotional impact rests in the heartfelt lyrics of the songs.

quiet desperation 4/5
Described as the “hysteria of endurance”, this group performance stretches and challenges the genre in this quirky and unique “musical” without words…or song for that matter.  Using various fitness apparatus like a treadmill, punching bag and even your basic skipping rope, this quintet combine sound effects with a host of creative vocals to create an orchestra of sound and rhythm that does somehow come together as one seamless melody.  A cleverly choreographed piece with great pacing and a dynamic “score”.

The Adventures of Kazu & Kengo (a.k.a. This is how Ninjas say hi…!) 5/5
This action-packed comedic piece follows two ninja wannabes and their quest to graduate from ninja school (at last!).  The ninja superstar master puts the instantly likeable duo through their paces in a number of scenarios where they must figure out what they need to do to save the day.  This is all delivered through a delightful mesh of song, dance, props and a dash of good ol’ slapstick.  Riotous and highly energetic, this short story is bucket loads of fun and wildly entertaining and was a clear crowd favorite.

Hole in The Road 4/5
The final piece in the bill is a musical lament of the various holes in the road (both literally and metaphorically) that we face in life and consequently dealing with these shaky encounters.  A thoughtful and charming medley of well written songs performed excellently by the performers, one of which was the festival director himself!  There were some subtle jazzy undertones which I felt worked well with the narrative and I thought the vocals were spot on; lovely harmonies and delivered with just the right amount of personality but also restraint.

Overall, Short+Sweet Song really is short and sweet but packed full of snappy and entertaining stories told through song and music.  It’s a shame there is only one heat and I can only assume it is because there were limited submissions in this category.  Here’s hoping there will be more next year; to echo this category’s tagline: everything really is better with a soundtrack!

Short+Sweet Song will be at the Herald Theatre until June 15th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, June 11 – Saturday, June 15 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 30 (3pm & 7:30pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Gala Final

Short+Sweet DanceShort+Sweet Dance is now done and dusted and true to the tagline of this category the groups involved definitely danced up a storm!  I was thrilled to see that some of my personal favorites from the rounds had made it through to the Gala Final.

A few highlights for me: Sophie Follett’s Kei Wareware Tatou (Lest We Forget) was just as moving and riveting to watch the second time round as the first and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the charming tale of The Crocodile And Monkey again by Prayas Youth Theatre.

Watching an encore of Melana Khabazi’s vivid and energetic Espressivo and also the cheeky and highly entertaining Body Party by Ula Naulutubutubu-Buliruarua actually made me appreciate these two performances even more.

I liked that the riotous dance doco Whose Dance Is It Anyway? by Phoebe Heyhoe and team showcased more dance routines this time round while still effortlessly delivering a very unique performance of hilarious improv and quick-witted banter with the audience.

Overall what an impressive display of creative storytelling through choreography and dance by all involved!  It is truly inspiring to see such fantastic and upcoming talent in this area of performing arts.

Congratulations to all the acts that made it to the Final and congrats also to those who left as award winners!

Here are my reviews of the rounds:
Short+Sweet Dance Week 1
Short+Sweet Dance Wildcard
Short+Sweet Dance Week 2

Next up: Short+Sweet Song!  Click here for details and to purchase tickets.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Week 2

Short+Sweet Dance

The final round of Short+Sweet Dance was the most eclectic of the bunch, with jungle animals, dancing nuns and even a game show.  Here’s what I thought:

Elegant Error 4/5
A compelling “movement study” which draws us in to the inner world of dance and what it takes to be an elite professional dancer.  The performance is made up of a series of intriguing and visually striking ballet vignettes with the performer skillfully showing us not only the physical strength and determination involved but also the inner turmoil that inevitably occurs.

Allegations 5/5
This two hander is a superb symbolic illustration of the downward spiral a marriage can take once it passes that initial honeymoon stage.  The piece is well crafted and choreographed with clever use of contemporary dance to represent the journey; the performers go from moving in unison hand in hand to (literally) becoming a burden on each other seamlessly and with impressive strength and grace.

Mating Rituals Of The 21st Century 3/5
A fascinating group performance akin to a night out on the dance floor with the performers emerging from the wings in turn delivering popular dance moves.  The free-flowing style gives the entire piece a trance-like quality and while there isn’t a specific narrative per se, it still makes for quite an engrossing watch.

Whose Dance Is It Anyway? 4/5
A clear crowd favorite, this comical and entertaining “dance doco” is a play on the improv game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?.  Like the original programme, this piece is almost entirely improvised with audience participation key to the hilarity that ensues – the performers are incredibly quick witted and effortlessly garner laughs, even after they have left the stage.  Personally while I did enjoy it, I think this piece would have been better suited in the theatre category.

The Crocodile And Monkey 5/5
This dramatic dance piece is a modern retelling of an Indian fable, wonderfully conveyed through narration, an animated score, colorful costumes and a brilliant mesh of contemporary dance and Bharatnatyam, an ancient Indian classical dance style.  This was my personal favorite of the night as it is short and sweet storytelling at its finest and the perfect embodiment of this category, in my opinion.

Be-Sides 3/5
This performance is a look back on twentieth century popular music with even the use of a record player for added nostalgic effect.  Using the vinyl records, the two performers reminisce and share stories from their life based on their collection which they artistically fan out on the stage; I liked the quirky nature of this piece – eccentric and slightly absurd yet captivating.

Daylight Come And We Want To Go Home 1/5
Four male ape-like creatures (presumably, judging by their gait and mannerisms) are caught in an unexplained tribal style battle which even extends beyond the stage.  I struggled with this piece – it lacked narrative structure and coherence, and if there was a metaphorical message, sadly it didn’t translate (to me, anyway).

Untitled Drag Performance With Ghosts 2/5
Based on Thomas Hanna’s approach on sensory awareness and fluid movement, this solo interpretative dance is a visual representation of this concept and it is an enigmatic and haunting piece albeit possibly too obscure to be universally appreciated.  I thought the use of imagery from the performer’s mad costume to the wayward choreography against the projected image was particularly effective.

Collage 3/5
Closing the show is an interesting quartet – a group of nuns with a dancing proclivity for 60s Motown tunes.  These “soul sisters” deliver attitude and energy all while (true to character) always looking heavenward in an engaging display of expressive and dynamic choreography.

Overall another great selection of storytelling through dance and I especially loved that there were more narrative-based performances in this round.  Looking forward to seeing who makes the Gala Final!

Short+Sweet Dance will be at the Herald Theatre until June 9th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, May 28 – Saturday, June 1 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 1 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 4 – June 8 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 9 (3pm & 7pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Wildcard

Short+Sweet DanceAfter mostly solo acts at the Week 1 round, it was refreshing to see many larger groups performing at The Wildcards round.  Here’s what I thought:

The Blind Leading The Blind 3/5
Brief interaction with the audience quickly indicate that the setting of the first act is cabin crew staff presenting safety regulations, specifically “how to watch people moving in a lit space”.  I thought the tongue-in-cheek nature of the performance and the mime-esque choreography was very clever; just a shame the dialogue got slightly muffled by the airplane audio track.

Same Love 2/5
This two-hander mixes a jazzy style choreography with a hip hop track which I thought was an interesting pairing.  The dance is performed well and the lyrics of the song which promotes equality is moving and inspiring but the two elements just didn’t quite mesh together.

Moving Through New York 4/5
Lines between reality and fantasy are blurred in this dance medley which celebrates the Big Apple through song and the iconic New York subway system.  The quintet jump back and forth between two worlds – the regular humdrum of traveling the subway and an alternate reality which is represented through a collection of engaging and well structured ballet and jazz performances.

Mitera 3/5
A fascinating and incredibly restrained dance symbolizing a mother’s support for her son.  This duet makes full use of the performance space – their bodies frolic, connect and intertwine, skillfully moving as one unit from one end to the other with great strength and grace.

The Sound Of ‘Music’ 2/5
This large ensemble performance is a nod to arguably the most popular tune from the movie.  I liked the beginning and the end but I found the main body of the performance far too messy; the verbal exchanges unfortunately got lost under the track and the choreography while well crafted appeared to lack focus.

There Was A Time 5/5
A melancholic piece which conveys the effects of psychological and physical loss through some brilliantly well thought out choreography.  The trio are enthusiastic in their delivery and work together in perfect tandem, injecting personality and a touch of humor into their performance – they were a clear crowd favorite.

Wing$ 5/5
Another crowd favorite, this energetic performance explores the consumer culture, specifically people’s obsession with exclusive sneaker collections and branded gear.  The quintet are the youngest performers on the bill but they are skilled dancers beyond their years with bucket loads of attitude.

Transitional Space 1/5
This solo piece is strange and abstract but a little bit too much for my liking.  I liked the concept of the dancing against a projected image; there was a rather soothing almost haunting rhythm watching live versus filmed movement but when the imagery shifted to the performer in the second half, I found it far too self-indulgent.

Woman’s World 5/5
The final act celebrates women through a series of beautifully choreographed belly dances and what a visual treat it was!  Their colorful costumes and sensual dance moves are perfectly juxtaposed with the choice of music and everything comes together to form one slick and seamless performance.

Overall this was a much more diverse and mixed bag compared to the Week 1 round which I appreciated.  I daresay a few of the performances definitely deserve to move up from wildcard status if they choose to compete again next year!

Short+Sweet Dance will be at the Herald Theatre until June 9th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, May 28 – Saturday, June 1 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 1 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 4 – June 8 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 9 (3pm & 7pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.

Short+Sweet Festival 2013: Dance Week 1

Short+Sweet DanceShort+Sweet is back!  Showcasing a plethora of bite-sized performances, this festival – now in its fourth year – is bigger and better than ever with the program split in to three categories: dance, song and theatre.

First up: Dance – Week 1 group.  Featuring a generous bill of twelve acts, it was quite the tasting platter!  Here’s what I thought:

Peace 5/5
A contemporary group dance backed by live vocals and guitar with a powerful message about how we make judgments on others.  The performance was a beautiful, seamless mesh of song and dance; the unplugged vibe made it a soothing piece yet the lyrics grabs your attention and makes you also reflect.

The Bachelor 5/5
Described as a “piss-take on the reality TV show The Bachelor”, this dance features a lot of amusing and rather “disjointed” choreography that oddly still comes across as graceful. Even if you have not watched the series, the hilarious dance moves of these five ladies which depict the various typical women who are on the show is entertainment enough.

Two.gether 4/5
A solid and well structured performance about the bond between brother and sister.  The two performers have an intuitiveness and undeniable chemistry that really does feel like one you might see shared between siblings.

Man/Made Heaven 3/5
This solo is quite an intriguing one; the performer has her back to us initially but excerpts from songs which bear clear religious themes draws us in.  This is juxtaposed well with the arresting dialogue that follows which she skillfully delivers like a remix track, however for me it was more monologue than dance piece.

Aima Andante 3/5
A stirring interpretative solo about a soul’s journey of reliving past memories.  Graceful and haunting dance with great use of the performance space and I thought the colored spotlights was a nice touch, adding another visual layer to the performance.

A Kathak Dance 4/5
This cultural piece is a refreshing one and with the dance involving ankle bells and the performer donning a bright and sparkling costume, it is both a treat to the ears and the eyes.  This is Bollywood meets tap dancing and it is a joyous watch.

Espressivo 5/5
Another solo piece and this one explores the different relationships people have with music.  The choreography is energetic and has a wonderful rhythmic quality to it that I found incredibly mesmerizing  – this was one of my favorites of the night.

Kei Wareware Tatou (Lest We Forget) 5/5
A highly emotive and chilling group performance which reflects on the lives of the Maori Battalion soldiers.  The piece is excellently crafted and choreographed; the performers work in harmony together while having great solo moments too and I loved the beautiful acappella rendition of Amazing Grace at the start and the end.

Virgin Insect 3/5
A captivating solo exploring the process of metamorphosis.  The choreography is edgy and visually engaging; the performer’s face is concealed initially which not only suits the theme but coupled with the dimly lit stage, added an element of mystery to the performance.

Flee 3/5
This very clever and tongue-in-cheek duet is physical comedy meets contemporary dance.  The two performers are adept dancers as well as effortless entertainers, garnering laughs easily with their comical facial expressions and slapstick-esque banter with each other.

Demi God Half Human 1/5
This dark piece is one which I struggled with and found to be extremely confusing – the lack of synopsis in the program didn’t help but I think that is the point.  The performance is very unsettling and visually disturbing especially near the end.

Body Party 5/5
The final performance is well placed at the end as it is a medley of many styles of dance and what happens when they all come together in a confused state.  A brilliantly choreographed piece with the performer smoothly merging into and  jumping between the different styles skillfully.

Overall it was certainly a visually stimulating seventy-five minutes that will prove that you do not need to solely rely on words to tell a story.  The performances are mostly within the realms of interpretative and contemporary dance so it is not quite the variety I was expecting to see but they were all very creative pieces so it was still an enjoyable watch.

Short+Sweet Dance will be at the Herald Theatre until June 9th.  Click here for tickets.

WEEK 1: Tuesday, May 28 – Saturday, June 1 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
WILDCARD: Saturday, June 1 (3pm)
WEEK 2: Tuesday, June 4 – June 8 2013 (Tues-Thur 7pm, Fri-Sat 8pm)
GALA FINAL: Sunday June 9 (3pm & 7pm)

For the full festival programme, click here.