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Auckland Fringe 2013
Not at All Topless
Choreography and artistic directiion: Jessie McCall
Performers: All You Can Eat Dance

at TAPAC Foyer - Western Springs, Auckland
From 21 Feb 2013 to 23 Feb 2013
[1 hour]

Reviewed by Felicity Molloy, 21 Feb 2013

Not at All Topless is a must-see Fringe event. You will catch glimpses of several artists in the making, a host of committed and provocative performers, and the generous dancing of choreographer Katie Burton. Director Jessie McCall is a gentle force to be reckoned with. Her choreographic ingenuity is imaginative and precise. She creates and directs work that consistently sets about to explore all kinds of relational perspectives that new contemporary dance makes with day-to-day life. Her latest endeavour, set in what is becoming her Auckland home base theatre, TAPAC, fills the space with provocative movement statements and thoughtful imagery.
Not at All Topless is a collaborative programme hooked together by performance transitions and props including a mobile piano included and gorgeously played by Flavio Villani, multiple changes of tops, dialogue, musical switches, and running adventures harnessed in film.  Of particular note is the eccentric weave of McCall's dances and Paloma Schneiderman's film clips of colourful crayons melted by a hair dryer -- t-shirt design visuals as recurrent backdrops to an ongoing story of mental anguish. European inflections and subtitled texts throughout suggest that the show as a whole could be considered durational dance  - providing a progressive collage with the pace sufficiently slowed to reveal deeper social and gendered themes.
In the sense of a combined pre-occupation with the evolving art form, the films, solo excerpts particularly, and the influence of other media on choreographic approaches, is a causal refreshment and important release from familar conventions.  Not all of the segments segue as successfully as others, of course. Two sweet solos by new dancers, Lydia Connelly-Hiatt in Traveling through Shirts and Camille Hay in Mind Strength/IDK Dali could have been edited differently as they are less carefully enclosed. Both dancers perform with a serious attention to the detail of felt movement.
Although Jessie remains at side stage at her sewing machine craftiing a shirt during the entirety of the performance, she also dances a delicate solo in a sparkly top, with a ball of silk thread, clumsily effaced movement and body twisted against the strings of an old piano.  This speaks most clearly of vulnerability, and the need for stretched seams in artistically driven designs:  sometimes the movement is so raw, so new, it doesn't have much chance to shine inside our familiar choreographic formations. Among the notable sections she has choreographed for this project are movement jumbles within  a funny mis-en-scene of human washing machines in a pretend Laundromat. Humour, as well as investigative integrity, shines in this young artists' work.
The film makers, musicians, choreographers and performers contributing to this show are expressive and technical, and they all deserve great credit for the integral parts they play in bringing together this decidedly successful Auckland Fringe event and debut production for All You Can Eat Dance. They are: Jessie McCall, Flavio Villani, Paloma Schneiderman, Katie Burton, Lydia Connolly-Hiatt, Camille Hay, Anitra Halliday, Caleb Wright, Caspar Connelly-Hiatt, Chanwyn Southgate, Ellena Woodhill-Martin, Josh Graves, Lana Walters, Lisa Greenfield, Lucy Lynch, Molly McDowell, Peter McCall, Phoebe Barwick, Rose Philpott, Saraid Cameron, Sharni Dickens, Stacey Ross, Suzy Smith, and Tim McPoland.

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