Lemi Ponifasio

Article Detail

Friday 15 April 2011
Ron Brownson

http://assets.aucklandartgallery.com/assets/media/blog-lemi-ponifasio-1.jpg

 

Between 7 and 9 of April, the remarkable New Zealand choreographer Lemi Ponifasio, showed his latest dance piece, Tempest: Without a Body, to acclaim at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Click here to see a Youtube video showing a segment of this astonishing ensemble dance work when it was shown in Sydney in 2010: 

http://assets.aucklandartgallery.com/assets/media/blog-lemi-ponifasio-2.jpg

 

Tempest: Without a Body is a political work about apocalypse and terrorism. With a duration of 90 minutes, it is wonderfully overwhelming. ‘Seeing it’ does not describe what one’s attendance at this dance means to your heart, to your mind and to your body. This performance consumes the audience and builds upon their immediate reactions to the work’s vast power.
 
Tempest delights, irritates, confuses, challenges, beguiles and overtakes all of one’s senses. It is a sensate implosion on lots of levels and these subcutaneous layers reach far within you in an insistent manner. This art cannot be ignored and it does not care whether you like it. As a shamanistic vision and palling invocation of the demon brother, it is a searing revelation of expressionist physicality.
 
http://assets.aucklandartgallery.com/assets/media/blog-lemi-ponifasio-3.jpg

 


I reckon Tempest is terrifying to both attend and view. It confidently uses ugliness as a fuel to beauty. The fact that the performers are miraculously vascular and athletically sprung like Olympic heroes brings their lives as performers closely proximate to our breathing. We feel our breath at this performance as we gasp and stutter with the action. It is a delight and a danger, a spectacle and a signpost.

Tempest: Without a Body is a harbinger that shows how hate consumes fear with a greed born of its own love for itself.

All images © Lemi Ponifasio / MAU