The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) opened its premiere season with a double-bill programme consisting of two strikingly different works. The Absurdity of Humanity is a fitting title drawing upon the choreographic artistry of Australia and New Zealand’s finest practitioners and presents a sensitive exploration of not just our humanity, but also our mortality.
The programme begins with Lina Limosani’s Whispers from Pandora’s Box. A seemingly-innocent white box deliberately makes its way across a bare stage towards a man sitting on a chair. The box is opened and it isn’t clear whether all the evils of the world spill out or the content of the box brings forth our deepest and darkest urges – but it doesn’t matter. Just like the man on stage, we are caught in the grip of a game with no winners. There is white face paint, a smear of red across the lips, black triangles under the eyes, and instantly, we become voyeurs of a cheerfully grotesque promenade where the life of a human matters little more than that of a chicken.
Ross McCormack’s Matter also begins with a solitary dancer on stage but he is anchored into a landscape that includes five tall pou. The work is constantly shifting and offers a cultural ecology of changing dynamics and responses as the world quivers on the axis of these five poles. Longer than the first work, Matter is meditative and, at times, the fastidiousness can be wearying; however, the longer narrative also invites further contemplation.
The company of dancers is extraordinary. There is a remarkable precision in their movement and timing is impeccable. Jo Kilgour’s delicate lighting and the evocative soundscape (including samples such as Muppet Chaud by AlgoRythmiK and Jason Wright’s score) are the perfect aesthetic accompaniments.
The Absurdity of Humanity is a powerful and compelling commentary on the human condition and it should not be missed.