In The Wine is an exuberant dance piece inspired by the creation and effect of wine in the ancient times.
New Zealand dancers Java Dance Theatre create an immersive performance that combines movement and sound to take the audience back in time. Draped in Grecian style white cloth, they use an earthy and grounded flair of dance.
The production uses instruments and beats to beautifully to build tension and spark a sense of fervent feeling through the performance. Opening with string instruments played passionately by the cast, they interject sporadic vocals that echo a tribal chant. With the slow addition of clapping, stamping, thumping and drum, the music builds to a climax which is reflected by the cast’s energy.
Performed in the round, the audience are on a variety of levels, which adds to the simplistic set. Merely using wine barrels and plants, the set itself explores all the senses. As the dancers scatter scented bark and dried plants, the performance becomes entirely ambient. They interact with the audience as they prance around them becoming slightly invasive as they pour bark onto their hands and feed them grapes.
Stylistically it is a natural performance, emanating the feeling of freedom and togetherness. The movement is organically wholesome and bursting with intensity. The whole production is alive and as two of the dancers fall hopefully in love, a ceremony takes place. The audience are invited to join the ceremony, standing up and throwing dried plants at the two lovers in celebration.
Throughout the performance the group are creating wine, which is displayed through ceremonial movement such as the discovering and crushing of the grapes. As the wine ferments, the piece itself blossoms as the airy start to the performance darkens. The playful movements become aggressive as two of the male dancers partake in a savage fight, there are signs of jealousy and rage which brings the performance alive.
In The Wine is an intoxicating performance that is soulful, lustful and mischievous.
***½ 3 and a half stars
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Tickets can be found here.