Author(s): Marianne Schultz
Through photographs, interviews, and reviews Limbs Dance Company: Dance For All People, 1977-1989 tells the story of Limbs, from their first public performance in Auckland in May 1977, to the last shows in Wellington in the winter of 1989.
In January 1977, a group of young artists met at the Rongomaraeroa Marae in the Hawkes Bay settlement at Porangahau,to `share, talk, dream...hoping to put dance first and individual egos second.' Forty years later, the legacy of that unique gathering is evident in the plethora of dance made in New Zealand across a range of genres, techniques and cultures. Notably, one of New Zealand's most influential popular performing arts group of the twentieth century, Limbs Dance Company, emerged from this idyllic summer gathering. With the advent of Limbs in 1977, the language of movement in New Zealand changed inextricably, expanding and exploding the definition of dance from this small South Pacific nation. Fundamentally, the founding members of Limbs believed that dance could reflect common human issues and emotions and was capable of touching people from all walks of life. With this belief, they made dances that were simultaneously relevant, challenging, sexy, serious, fun and exciting.
These core beliefs and means of expression continued over twelve years as new artistic directors, choreographers, dancers and management upheld the passion and innovation of the founding members of Limbs. Limbs dances both reflected and shaped the zeitgeist of 1970 - 1980s New Zealand. Such a wide array of dances not only entertained and excited the general public, but also inspired other choreographers and artists from different fields to explore their own artistic voices. Spanning years of political protests and economic reforms, the works that Limbs presented in this time period and their performance settings - large music festivals, prisons and opera houses - reflect the changing nature of New Zealand society. This unique history is a record of New Zealand seen through the lens of dance.
Winner of Ministry for Culture and Heritage History Research Trust Award 2017.
'From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, the performing arts in New Zealand introduced a huge range and variety of forms of creativity which signaled a new vibrancy in New Zealand cultural expression. Limbs Dance Company was at the heart of this cultural awakening with its poignant, and challenging dances. New Zealand's dance history has been somewhat overlooked by our historians, until now. This book illuminates a hidden but important chapter in New Zealand's 20th century cultural history and is a welcome addition to the story of our creative, cultural, and social past.' --Helen Clark.
Marianne Schultz, PhD, is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and historian. Born in the USA, she has lived primarily in New Zealand since 1986. Following her dance studies at NYU and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Marianne performed with Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians. In New Zealand she has danced for Limbs Dance Company, Douglas Wright Dance Company, Spinning Sun and currently with the Foster Group. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters in edited collections on dance and performing arts history. Her first book, Performing Indigenous Culture on Stage and Screen: A Harmony of Frenzy, published by Palgrave McMillian, appeared in 2016.
Forward List of Illustrations Preface: Brief history of Modern Dance in New Zealand Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Assembling Limbs, 1977 Chapter 3: Nightclubs and Universities, 1977-1978 Chapter 4: Prisons, Parties, and OZ, 1979 SPOTLIGHT: Complicated Legs Dance in a Pair of Jeans and Sneakers Chapter 5: New Ground, 1980-1982 SPOTLIGHT: Shadow of the Warrior Chapter 6: New limbs, 1983-1985 SPOTLIGHT: Knee Dance SPOTLIGHT: Vigil Switch Chapter 7: Eruptions, 1986-1987 Chapter 8: Now is the hour when we must say goodbye...1988-1989 SPOTLIGHT: Now Is The Hour Appendices: 1. Limbs Dance Company members 2. Nga Taonga Sound and Vision catalogued items 3. Repertoire and cast listing