Edinburgh Fringe 2015
New Zealand’s leading dance company, Okareka Dance Company premiere at Assembly Roxy with a clever, confrontational, funny and deeply sexy show!
Fierce, frightening and f**king fabulous.
K’RD Strip: A Place to Stand is presented by Okareka Dance Company who promise Maori mythology, the Hakka, drag queens and live Kiwi music. This dance company, composed of Gay Kiwi men, create a stunning dance performance that is peppered with vignettes showing the seedy, violent, flamboyant and sometimes tender side of the infamous Karangahape Road in Auckland New Zealand.
This devised dance performance is partly confessional, with cast members using monologues to share their pain and confusion with us. Most memorable was Will Cooper Barling who claimed to be a puzzle that no one ever stayed around long enough to finish. The loneliness and desire to be part of a group resonated with this reviewer and fed back nicely to the chaos and loneliest that surrounds all of us up in fringe city.
As a group, the dancers start off as subversive show girls tricking us into thinking that this is going be just another drag show. The dance routines are slick and professional and at times complete mesmerising. One moment between Jesse Wikiriwhi and Taane Mete was filled with longing, silence, the creaking of Taane’s leather jacket and the sound of flesh touching flesh. It felt erotic and creepy all at once.
The staging of is simple. Minimal costume, a sequin top here, a feather headdress there or a pair of plastic stripper shoes is enough to create each new character. The performers are mostly in black underwear which highlight both their fragility and their strength. There is an exceptionally beautiful lighting design from Fringe newcomer, Jonny Cross, that made this a magical piece to watch.
At a time when Gay rights are becoming the norm and not just an ideal, it is still relevant to hear these stories and meet these characters. The inclusion of a graphic sexual assault was shocking but a fact of life still for many people. The tender kisses the attacker bestowed after the incident made me think about how many people still struggle to come to terms with their sexuality and how important it is to a stand tall and be proud of who you are.
This show starts as a cabaret but quickly becomes much more, cleverly playing to type then twisting it around into a darkly bizarre dance theatre performance which was both entertaining and intense. The addition of traditional Maori dance and song is beautiful and gives this show a depth that is grounded in tradition. Some of the transitions between scenes could be less jarring and there is a crazy and funny cockerel section which went on slightly too long for my tastes.
I loved this showed. I found it bewitching and emotional. Will Cooper Barling and Taane Mete were the stand out stars for me. Saying that, the whole cast are exceptionally talented. The simple costume and full make up provide a lovely juxtaposition and there were dark moments when the lights would catch the glitter on their finger nails and surprise me.
I would highly recommend this show to anyone with a passion for dance, drag queens, live signing or all three! These warrior queens have brought a unique, passionate and provocative show to the Edinburgh fringe this year and I congratulate them.