Dance partner half a world away joins stage on final day of festival

Rehearsing for her Dunedin Fringe Festival 2021 performance, Duo, at the Screaming Rooster in Stafford St is Jess Quaid, of Auckland. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Rehearsing for her Dunedin Fringe Festival 2021 performance, Duo, at the Screaming Rooster in Stafford St is Jess Quaid, of Auckland. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Being oceans apart during a global pandemic did not stop a New Zealand dancer from performing a duet with adancer in London for this year’s Dunedin Fringe Festival.

Duo,performed by Jess Quaid, of Auckland, and Amy Mauvan, of London, was one of the many showsthat brought the festival to a close yesterday.

The pair had worked together on and off in contemporary dance for about 10 years, and despite Covid-19 travel restrictions that was able to continue with a the help of technology.

Quaid performed live at the Screaming Rooster inStafford St, while a recording ofMauvan dancing was projected on to a screen behind her.

The concept of a virtual duet arose about this time last year when New Zealand went into lockdown, Quaid said.

London was not yet in lockdown, so the idea, originally, was to have Mauvan perform live at her gallery space in London, while Quaid joined virtually.

But before that could happen, alert levels changed and New Zealand was no longer in lockdown, but London was, so their roles had to be reversed.

Quaid said performing a duet virtually had the potentialto go ‘‘horribly wrong’’.

Thankfully, it did not.

Quaid, who is based in Auckland but grew up in Queenstown, said the audience was ‘‘incredible’’.

‘‘We had a really good turnout [on Saturday] night and sold quite a few tickets [for Sunday night].

‘‘It was a fantastically friendly and engaged audience.

‘‘Half of that is the venue we are in — it is kind of the venue of an artist’s dreams.’’

The show, along with about 15 others yesterday, brought the 2021 Dunedin Fringe Festival to a close.

Festival director Gareth McMillan said it had been an ‘‘amazing’’ and ‘‘jam-packed’’ 11 days.

‘‘There’s always so much to see and it goes past too quickly.’’

Following the cancellation of the festival last year due to Covid-19, artists were more than ready to present their hard work and creative ideas, and it seemed audiences were more than ready too.

While final ticket sales numbers have not been finalised, Mr McMillan expected them to be significantly greater than 2019.

The team was already looking at how the festival could build on this year’s success and continue supporting its artists.

‘‘We actually start planning for the next year before the festival has even finished,’’ he said.

The Dunedin Fringe Arts Trustalso runs other events throughout the year, included the Amped Music Project in August and the New Zealand Young Writers Festival in September. 

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