words Yulia Podrul
If you’d like to see what human pain looks like, you may want to experience a new short programme by Atamira Dance Company. That’s what I felt while watching the one hour performance a couple of nights ago.
For an 8pm start, I wouldn’t recommend watching it after your most intense day at work, just like I did. After the programme finished I felt drained and tired than I was before. It simply shows that those dancers do manage to get under your skin and take you with their journey to experience physical pain that they try to express.
The performance was split into three parts. The first one disturbed me, I saw was a woman squirming on a stage with a heavy rope that clearly was hard to unwind and wind back again. Emotions of suffer and pain clearly were there.
Being a dancer myself and growing up by being exposed to Russian theatrical performances, ballet and incredibly unique talents, I have a balanced understanding. After experiencing hundreds of international performances, Cirque du Soleil, Russian ballet just to name a few, softly-spoken I was slightly shocked after watching Manaia.
With all my love and respect for the dancers and deep choreography, my expectations were completely diminished. There was one part that I loved, which showcased the vocal talent of one of the artists. The most amazing Maori singing that I’ve ever experienced. So immaculately done she managed to get all my attention.
Your imagination will go wild for the last part of the programme, where you’ll see two performers (Sean McDonald and Hannah Tasker-Poland) moving across the stage with so much suffering and struggle in their faces (not that they actually felt pain, but that’s the idea behind it). Birth of a new soul, perfection of women’s bodies, legends and myths, Manaia creatures, whatever this duet was trying to express, it certainly did play with our minds here.
For the first two acts I found the music disturbing and neurotic. It didn’t strike me with wave of positive emotions, and it didn’t mean to. It rather showcased dark and mythical sides of human imagination. Have an open mind, you’ll probably like to familiarise yourself with myths of Maori culture prior to watching this, as it will give it more significance.