Gloriously eclectic contemporary dance takes audiences out of their comfort zone

Friday's performance of Artefact: How to Behave in an Art Gallery took the audience out of their comfort zone.

McDermott Photography

Friday’s performance of Artefact: How to Behave in an Art Gallery took the audience out of their comfort zone.

EXAM: Arts winner Ross McCormack’s creation, Artifact: How to Behave in an Art Gallery, thrilled the crowd, but it also took audiences out of their comfort zone.

The site-specific dance/theatre work of the NZ Dance Company was presented at the Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū on Friday – not in the theatre, but in the gallery spaces themselves as part of the Nelson Arts Festival .

As portraits of Rita Angus watched, the dancers took us on a mischievous journey – smashing artwork and posing in their underwear like a classic statue (which gave one kid watching a serious case of laughs) .

The audience became part of the show – they were searched by dancers dressed as museum security guards, their bodies put in position for a waltz, or their arms wrapped around a sobbing mock performer’s chest.

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As we moved from space to space, the art objects were destroyed, sucked up, replaced.

A woman found herself caught between two competing egos – what was she thinking? Who did she prefer? The riddle was solved by a double handshake.

Ross McCormack's Artefact: How to Behave in an Art Gallery was playful and humorous, but also explored the nature of art and creation.

PROVIDED

Ross McCormack’s Artefact: How to Behave in an Art Gallery was playful and humorous, but also explored the nature of art and creation.

One of the fun parts of this work was the inclusion of references to 1980s television and film.

McCormack, born in 1977, made his way into dance via breakdancing – and moves like this have been playfully incorporated – such as the joined arm wave – a ripple of energy running through the shoulders and limbs , and ultra-smooth moonwalks, and the hilarious use of slow-motion footage.

Bon Jovi and the movie Titanic also made an appearance in a fast, tight and flawless performance.

A soliloquy at the end of the play explored the nature of artistic creation and its audience: Are artists’ creations good? Who makes the judgment? Does what we create measure up to what lies between the four walls of the gallery space?

“My mom loves my job, but it’s different,” the dancer said.

Rest assured, McCormack, that we, the public, love your work too.