Innovative and dynamic collaboration

The world premiere of Daniel Belton's latest work, Axis - Anatomy of Space, was a 360-degree aural and visual immersion.

This is a work of collaboration across media and artistic disciplines - film, photography, kinetic sculpture, couture, contemporary composition and dance.

Belton's creative team consists of Singaporean-based composers Joyce Beetuan Koh and Permagnus Lindburg, who created the predominantly choral soundtrack; Tanya Carlson, designer of the beautiful and voluminous costumes; producer Donnine Harrison, film-maker Jac Grenfell and artists from the Royal New Zealand Ballet, most notably Abigail Boyle, Jacob Chown and Laura Saxon Jones.

Inspired by his childhood fascination with deep space and astrophysics, Axis is innovative and dynamic.

The creation of Otago Museum's planetarium provided the impetus for this visually stunning work.

The viewer is in a reclined position with an expansive view of the work and this combined with the surround sound creates an immersive experience. You feel as if you could reach out and be a part of the piece.

Axis is an exploration into time and space with light playing a central role.

The dancers constantly move towards the light; at times with clear lines, at others the figures are blurred - the blur of photons moving through space and time.

The dancers are celestial beings and sometimes appear to be floating in the swirling cosmos.

A wonderful introduction to this new work included an exhibition of film stills, costumes and kinetic sculpture from the production on display in the Beautiful Science Gallery before the audience proceeded into the planetarium for the viewing.

Axis is reminiscent of a previous work of Belton's, Satellites, partly because of the inclusion of dancers Boyle and Saxon Jones, but also because of the use and play on light, shapes and kinetics.

This new work is ambitious, in that it is probably the first of its kind (working within a dome-shaped viewing platform), but it is a stunning visual feat and will linger with the viewer long after its conclusion.

-By Penny Nelson

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