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A primal adventure

Dance is at the core of an upcoming production that explores the idea of pre-existence but there is much more to Pango (Blackness) than outlined here last week.

Director Moss Patterson explains.

“We’re doing it to try something different. We wanted to create a conceptual art space where we can experiment.”

Patterson, six “epically great” male dancers, award-winning audio-visual designer Rowan Pierce; musicians Shayne Carter (Dimmer) and taonga puoro maker James Webster explored the notion of Te Kore, the void, a formless state of pre-consciousness, as a multi-sensory meditation on existence. From a Maori cosmological perspective, Te Kore is described as a time of potential being, says Patterson. In the blackness lie the seeds of movement, energy and life.

“We evolved over millions of years. Way back before humans existed it was elemental. As a company, we have multiple elements converging all at once to create this moving tableau of corresponding images in this space of Te Kore.”

Each dancer, musician and technician brings something to the concept behind Pango.

“We’re meeting in the middle and responding through movement sequences to describe this world of prototypes, a time before the world came into existence, when everything was forming.

“We built a series of scenes to visually describe Te Kore. We’re starting from this point and bringing it to life with each of the dancers’ responses to concepts like the beginning of time from a cosmological perspective.”

The show is not lit with the usual lamps but projectors and occasional side-lighting. This innovative lighting concept means Pierce’s projections onto the bodies of the dancers themselves, as well as features such as big eyes, tongues and skeletons, are an integral part of the experience.

“The audience watches, enamoured, as the dancers stand stock still in perfect position with a series of projections enveloping their forms in a stunning sequence of the buildings of a human body — bone, blood, muscle and eventually flesh,” enthused reviewer Leah Maclean.

Creating environments that impact people on an experiential and sensory level is at the heart of Pierce’s interest, the AV artist recently told World of Wearable Art organisers.

“Manipulating time and space in ways that you wouldn’t be able to experience in everyday life.”

Patterson says he was also surprised by how Carter approached the work.

“He was so accepting. I didn’t expect that from a hard core rocker.

“All of his music has an emotional angst, nostalgia and innovative styles. He came in and started improvising on guitar. We spent three days in the garage and composed a 60 minute score.”

The collaborative approach in which not only the dancers but technician and musicians shape production is a unique experience for Patterson.

“I’ve never done this before,” he says.

“You have to roll up your sleeves and get into it.”

The Atamira Dance Company presents Pango, War Memorial Theatre, Wednesday October 24, 7.30pm. Tickets from Stephen Jones Photography and TicketDirect.

BEFORE THE BEGINNING: Using themes of creation and nothingness Atamira Dance Company’s artistic director Moss Patterson explores the idea of pre-existence in his new work, Pango (Blackness). In that formless state of consciousness lies potential for movement, energy and life. Picture supplied