Looking back on 30Forward

 

In a thank you card to management after the final show of 30Forward, the dancers called our tour ‘a beautiful beast’. Touring any show is an exciting and exhausting endeavour, and all of us at Footnote are in reflection-mode after recently scattering to our respective homes (or holiday destinations, with Brydie in Thailand and Lana in Fiji as this is published!).

Celebrating 30 years of success and survival in an oft-fringe industry is a big deal. Our tour began with the world premiere of 30Forward in Wellington, which itself was preceded by a series of events including a poster and programme exhibition spanning three decades of design. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown joined Footnote supporters for a launch at the venue formerly known as Mighty Mighty. The show was received well, and was a special treat for former Footnote dancers who featured in the original versions of re-staged works and then again in Rowan Pierce’s stunning visual interpretation of Footnote’s archives in Malia Johnston’s new work FLIP PIVOT BOOM.

The morning after our last Wellington show saw six sleepy dancers and one sleepy artistic liaison boarding a plane to Christchurch. As they winged their way south a general manager, office manager, choreographer, projection designer and lighting operator joyously travelled by truck with the 30Forward set in tow. These overland travellers had a smooth journey after stopping in at a number of regional medical centres seeking treatment for Rowan’s painfully inflamed wisdom tooth – thank you Kaikoura!

Being part of the Christchurch Arts Festival was fantastic and the Court Theatre’s sight lines meant the whole audience felt close to the action. It’s really special to have been the first dance company to perform at the new Court. Those of us who hadn’t been to the city since its earthquakes were stunned and impressed by the resilience of Canterbury’s people and places. Christchurch is regenerating and there’s a sense of vibrancy and energy that’s almost tactile. The people of the city made us feel so welcome we were left wondering if living through the earthquakes instilled everyone with more capacity to care for others.

Our Breakfree accommodation in Christchurch was one of a kind – a hotel that featured technical mood-lighting states in rooms described as being ‘compact but with everything you need’. This description was apt and we all enjoyed the novelty of what came to be known as our ‘sleeping pods’. Other Chchighlights included Velvet Burger as a post-show snack, delicious coffees at C1, and souvlaki from the rightly famous Dimitri’s Greek Food.

It’s hard to believe that our 30Forward tour took place on either side of the arts extravaganza that is the World of WearableArt Awards, but it certainly did! Our schedule was tight to the point of stepping off the plane from Christchurch and into rehearsals in Wellington. Being part of WOW was a thrill, and an awesome opportunity to work with the wider arts community – both kiwi and international.

The family of intern Adam Naughton, who joined us especially for our 30Forward season, had the chance to see him performing with Footnote when we presented the show as part of Auckland’s Tempo dance festival. A wonderful review by Bernadette Rae of the New Zealand Herald recognised our six dancers for their choreographic contribution to FLIP PIVOT BOOM and for what they brought to each of the works highlighted in Footnote Fragmented. A whole festival of dance is a pretty awesome thing, and we were pleased to be able to squeeze in some audience experience when we saw Prime and the New Zealand School of Dance perform Preface by Ross McCormack.

Onward, to Gisborne! Dancer Lana Phillips hails from Gisborne and we had so much fun taking the show to a region that hadn’t seen a Footnote performance for more than a decade. From workshops at Wainui Beach School, where Lana spent her primary school years, to our Watch This Space performance at Tairāwhiti Museum and on to 30Forward at the new War Memorial Theatre, being in Gisborne was truly special. It was energising to perform to a huge and enthusiastic East Coast crowd.

The Kokomai Creative Festival in Carterton was next up, where we needed to execute the quickest pack-in in the history of Footnote. The 30Forward tour was a beast for crew as well as dancers with set, projections, flooring and lighting needing to be installed with precision and maneuvered via van and enormous trailer.

We stopped in Taupō on route to Tauranga for a performance at Hilltop School, to rapturous applause from almost 300 children. With differing levels of enthusiasm we also took a quick swim in the beautiful and refreshing waters of Lake Taupō. The last show of tour (and the last ever performance of 30Forward) was with Tauranga Arts Festival. A free evening meant we were able to stop in at Wellington company Java Dance’s performance of The Wine Project in the always-impressive Crystal Palace spiegeltent.

Our whirlwind tour ended in a figurative whirlwind, with the Tauranga Arts Festival hosting an Irish Ceili. A large and boisterous group of audience members, festival organisers, performers, managers and technicians lined the circular stage, poised for instruction. Festival act Roesy & The Seisiun lead us all into various degrees of coordinated dance moves. Team Footnote (made up of dancers Brydie, Emma, Lana, Kosta, Jeremy and Adam, artistic liaison Anita, office manager Nik, general manager Richard and designer Rowan) only arrived in time for the last two songs but we gave it our all. In pairs we gallopped and turned, spurred forward and backward with a giant group of friendly strangers. As the music subsided we caught our breath through smiles and laughter. The Ceili was concentrated joy – the perfect way to round off a 30th birthday tour.

—–

 

P.S Our last 30Forward van ride together (homeward-bound) included some unique treats, the best of which was happening upon the 19th annual Shepherds’ Shemozzle in Hunterville. Local children raced through obstacle courses with their dogs, stall holders promoted their wares and a loudspeaker blared with warnings about the importance of keeping in-heat lady canines on the leash. The Shemozzle was brimming with people enjoying entertainment and activity, and stumbling across it was a great opportunity to experience some regional New Zealand culture.

 

Nic_web-Res(1)

By Nik Jarvie, Office Manager at Footnote New Zealand Dance