Rift and precipice (2016)

Excerpts from performance review Real Life People
from Near and Far by Zornitsa Stoyanova, thINKDANCE, Philadelphia 2016.


It is the rainiest of days. Gloomy and wet, I am at the Latvian Society to see RealLivePeople Presents, featuring choreographers fromAustralia, North Carolina, and Philadelphia. I am immediately greeted and directed to a large armchair containing all matter of colorful objects – some toys, some tie-dye shirts. I choose a container of soap bubbles and I’m told to keep it until the end of the evening.


The second dance, Rift, is by Nicola Bullock, from North Carolina, and Forest Vicky Kapo, a native New Zealander living in Australia. Two parallel, forearm length sticks are placed center stage. As they walk toward each other to reach the sticks, I note that Kapo is visibly older than Bullock. In an elaborate dance of pull and tug, they become enemies, playmates reaching for the same toy, or women using the sticks to find water. I am drawn to Kapo’s relaxed body and full movement, reflecting her “indigenous heart” and the “half child andhalf ancient” description in her bio. The sticks become part of her arms gesturing as if performing a rhythmic ritual. From her bio and her darker skin, I presume she is Maori. Her presence reminds me of the culture’s connection to the land and is contrasted by the more reserved presence of her younger Caucasian partner, Bullock. Maybe it’s my fascination with the colonization of New Zealand and Australia that makes me read this as a comment on race and history.

Finding a precarious unison, both women watch each other, trying to mirror every motion and become the same. They end with Bullock laying face up on top of Kapo, their arms circling together in an echo of the water-seeking sticks’ motion from earlier. I think of race, colonization, and conflict, but also how we all attempt to synchronize with each other and with nature. Seeking to find flow and peace, the younger American, Bullock rests on top of the older New Zealand native, Kapo.


Next is precipice, a solo by Forest Vicky Kapo. Again, she starts center stage holding the two sticks from before. Addressing us with a gentle matter-of-factness, I see her as she is. Low- fi techno music plays at her command. She stretches her limbs, her arms indistinguishable from the sticks – a contemporary tribal dance calling up past and present. This solo feels like an iteration of the duet we saw earlier. But this time, I see her exact intention and clarity of movement, her fluidity and grace.


RealLivePeople Presents stays true to its name. Issues of identity, race, and our communication with each other resonated through all works. Personal and inviting, the evening left me with a new hope for dance and its connection to the outside world.