Dance students perform at Arts Festival

27 March 2018

Postgraduate and second year students from the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries have been performing in the Wellington production of Rushes, as part of the New Zealand Festival.

Emma Cosgrave and Abigail Jones from the Dance Studies Programme joined the cast of the award-winning show, which is billed as live music meets art, theatre, dance and film. 

Featuring over 30 performers, Rushes is the work of Malia Johnston, Eden Mullholland and Rowan Pierce.

Presented by Movement of the Human and Te Papa, Rushes was performed using the entire area of Circa Theatre, including the rehearsal and dressing rooms. The interactive site-specific show, encouraged the audience to move between rooms participating in the performances taking place within. 

Emma, who is completing Honours in Dance Studies, had seen the Auckland production of Rushes at the Fringe Festival last year and was so impressed she contacted the director Malia, to ask if she could take part.

“It was a very exciting event to witness,” she says. “The theatre had been divided up into individual performance spaces, with completely different experiences taking place in each one. I really wanted to take part and was delighted when I was selected to perform in Wellington.”

Abigail, who’s a second-year Bachelor of Dance student, didn’t get to see the Auckland version of Rushes, but saw roles advertised for the Circa production and was keen to take part.

“It looked awesome and I really wanted to be involved,” she says.

For the Wellington show, both Emma and Abigail performed each evening, with additional matinees some days. Part of what made the experience special for both dancers, was that no two shows were ever the same.

“We were encouraged to try out different parts for each performance, to swap rooms and roles, which was tremendous,” says Abigail. “My favourite spaces were the box cocoon and the light tunnel.”

Each performance was just over an hour long, with an audience of around 200 free to wander around at their leisure and participate if they wished.

Both dancers say being involved in Rushes was an extraordinary experience they will never forget.

Back in Auckland the students recently took part in a Metamorphosis intensive workshop with Iratxe Ansa and Igor Bacovich.

Abigail has resuming her Dance Studies Programme course work and for Emma, China calls and she is heading overseas for a month to work with Footnote NZ Dance and Guangdong Modern Dance Company, choreographed by Sarah Foster-Sproull.

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