Dance is a song of the body

The New Zealand Festival of the Arts is on at the moment here in Wellington. A biannual event, it is a good (and rare) chance to see international companies perform here in the southern most capital city. I will say that I was disappointed in this year’s programme, with not much that appealed and no decent drama. I know others will think differently of course! Anyway, as regular readers know, dance ‘is my thing’ and there were two dance performances that attracted me this year, namely Teaċ Daṁsa’s Mám and Lyon Ballet’s Trois Grandes Fugues. Two very different evenings, two quite different experiences.

Last year, I went to see a workshop performance by Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Teaċ Daṁsa which was so full of energy and creativity I was quite determined to go and see their new work Mám. The work was a co-commission between the New Zealand festival, Dublin Theatre Festival and Sadler’s Wells, and started life here in Wellington at the Made in Wellington residency, which the workshop I mentioned was a part of. Anyway, to the piece itself.

I have been to see a lot of dance in my life, some memorable, some best forgotten. Mám was most definitely the former. Energetic, musical, life enhancing, wonderful dancing…what else can I say? The music was provided by the amazing concertina player Cormac Begley who sat on stage for the whole performance, and s t a r g a z e, a Berlin based orchestral collective. The audience all stood up and the end to applaud – a natural reaction I felt to what we had just seen. I came out of the theatre full of positive energy and a desire to dance.

You can see a little clip of it here.


The other performance was Lyon Opera Ballet’s Trois Grandes Fugues, three pieces by three choreographers to Beethoven’s Die Grosse Fuge. This looked like an interesting programme, but failed to live up to expectations. The first piece by Lucinda Childs looked was clearly derived from Balanchine, and although nice, not exactly sparkling with life. I liked work number two by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, which has a lot more dynamism and energy, and would have been good in a different triple bill. The last piece by Maguy Marin was all about flop, using the floor to excess, and at times, dancers resembling Isadora Duncan. So, a disappointing evening though the dancers were good.


Blog title is from this quote from Martha Graham: “Dance is a song of the body. Either of joy or pain.” 

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram@thistleandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on


  1. You can always count on Martha Graham for an apt quotation. I watched that clip. Wowsah! Looked a little spooky, though. But I have an overactive imagination, and maybe it wasn’t that way in person.


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