by Sam Trubridge
28 Aug 2015
Undertide is choreographed by Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad from The Body Cartography Project. It is wonderful to see their trademark sensitivity to tiny shifts and touches, initiating small changes in energy within a group that share a strong empathic connection through each movement. After a video introduction, the dance starts outside the largest of the wooden boxes, in a knot of bodies that slowly emerges from the low light. The box becomes a stage within the larger stage of Te Whaea’s auditorium. Alisha McLennan’s departure from the group to enter this space is a lovely and poignant act that highlights the decision to be seen, to perform, and to do something that is seen. As other dancers follow her, they unite in a liquid, tidal investigation of this small interior together, rolling past and over one another, like bodies at sea. Sometimes they join in a trembling that shakes the walls and floor of this enclosure. They finally break the bounds of this little space and spin like dervishes, one hand to the heavens and one hand connecting to the earth below. It is testament to Bieringa and Ramstad’s sensitivity and tenderness as choreographers that the final exit is so moving – as the dancers turn and simply walk out, with each body comfortable in its own gait, its own rhythms. It is beautiful.