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First Flight

Sherry Elbe



Lydia Zanetti is a woman of action – and not just on the dance floor. Inspired by the opportunities afforded to young actors, namely the Young and Hungry annual festival of new works (a chance for young actors to work with professional directors and designers), she started to question – where were the opportunities for young people to choreograph and perform exciting new works of contemporary dance? Lydia knew the support was out there for a similar scheme to Young and Hungry, but that it would take someone who was willing to be “producer, publicist and just about every other job on top of that!” And that she has done. Lydia has set up First Flight, which provides young people with a professional environment to perform dance, with some additional support and mentoring from dance professionals.
Their first performance will be First Flight, a season of five fresh works of contemporary dance on the theme First Flight – new beginnings, spreading your wings and soaring free. The show incorporates works from dancers across New Zealand; High School students, University students and full time dance students at Unitec School of Performing Arts in Auckland. We sat down with Tania Mead, dancer and Victoria University student, to discuss rocking it in the contemporary dance world.
A dancer since the age of ten, Tania has had to sideline her dance passion due to lack of opportunities for full time students to dance, but says “First Flight has been an excellent opportunity to get back into dancing”. Tania calls the choreographic process for her work ‘dynamic’ – “which is really just a euphemism for it being a little anarchic and quite haphazard”.
Breaking the mould of traditional dictatorial styles of chorographer and dancers, Lydia gives the group base material and everyone contributes moves. However trying to tie together the creative musings of four people with tremendously different dancing styles is tricky, to say the least. On the upside, having so many contributors means that “the direction of the choreography, both thematically and physically, can develop in new and unexpected ways.” Despite the previous quote which was full of dance-wank, Tania insists that ‘choreography’ means them sitting around in the studio cackling and doing wild gesturing in an attempt to evoke movement. “In other words, it’s fun”, says Tania.
Part of Wellington’s Dance Your Socks Off Festival, which runs throughout the capital this month, the positive response and support for Lydia’s project has been “overwhelming”. Lydia hopes this initiative will become a regular thing – claiming that this is “the future of New Zealand dance” and thus, deserves support. Tania reckons the show would appeal to everyone, as “you never know who harbours a secret interest in contemporary dance”. After all, Eleanor was recently re-introduced to the ballet after shunning it for years for not being ‘theatrical enough’.
Come appreciate the wondrous movement of the body and support the future of dance.

BATS, September 19-22, 8:30pm
Bookings: (04) 802 4175, book@bats.co.nz
$12 concession

Reviewed by Eleanor Bishop and Sherry Elbe