Article Title:Dance: Michael Parmenter's Tristan and Isolde
Author or Credit:Declan Patrick
Published on:7th November 2004 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:475
Text:Review: Tristan and Isolde Michael Parmenter Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Theatre Reviewed by Declan Patrick The posters have been out for weeks. The tension made even higher by the last minute cancelling of opening night in Wellington. But the wait was worth it. Tristan and Isolde is a visually and aurally stunning piece of theatre. The first piece in the programme is a short, unrelated contemporary dance piece, Weather. It is danced by Sarah-Jayne Howard and Michael Parmenter. The virtuosity of Sarah-Jayne Howard is astonishing. Her body appears to be the perfect vessal for contemporary dance. Her movement is, by turns, fluid, staccato and perfectly sustained. The choreography is interesting enough to capture the imagination, and short enough to interest the non-dancer observer. The main piece, Tristan and Isolde, is based loosly on the Wagner opera of the same name. It uses music from the opera. It is danced between two men; Parmenter and Taane Mete. Parmenter dances Tristan, Mete dances Isolde – ostensibly a female role. This in itself lends the dance a different interpretation of the story. Lighting is extremely important in the show. Particularly effective is the gradual revealing of a brightly lit backdrop through an asymmetical curtain. In the choreography it is obvious to see Parmenter's background in Butoh. The pace is often slow, with minimal - but very intense - physical activity. This is intercut with sudden, but sustained, frenetic movement. The love duet, in particular, had remarkable, physically demanding partnering work. There were some very beautiful images: clasping spotlit hands, the unmoving Isolde peering out to sea, Isolde's final dance with the corpse of her lover. Sometimes the pace felt too slow, and occasionally the music overpowered the movement. The death of Tristan, occuring on an elasticated tapaulin, seemed contrived – although easy to clean up after. If you don't like Wagner, this is not the show for you. If you enjoy intense, powerful contemporary dance, danced by truly great dancers, then this is for you. (Declan Patrick is a Wellington-based choreographer/actor/dancer/singer whose original work has been performed in England, China, Spain and New Zealand. He has an MA (hons) in English/Drama.) Declan Patrick - 7th November 2004    
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