A feast for all the senses

Dancer Sarah Gatzonis rehearses her role of Dionysus in the Athenaeum basement yesterday for the Dunedin Arts Festival show The Wine Project under the instruction of Java Dance Theatre artistic director Sacha Copland. Photo by Christine O'Connor.
Dancer Sarah Gatzonis rehearses her role of Dionysus in the Athenaeum basement yesterday for the Dunedin Arts Festival show The Wine Project under the instruction of Java Dance Theatre artistic director Sacha Copland. Photo by Christine O'Connor.
The Dungeon at the Athenaeum provided the perfect backdrop for The Wine Project, with its aged interior - some might say dilapidated or disused, but I say atmospheric.

Columns, concrete and wooden floorboards made the ideal setting for an evening of debauched overindulgence.

From the outset, this piece had the feel of a Midsummer Night's Dream. Choreographer Sacha Copland and designer Meggan Rolland have devised a feast for all the senses.

Upon entering this delicious world, we were greeted by a trio of wine barrels covered by a naked Sarah Gatzonis, not in an illicit way at all, but in a very inviting way, which quickly turned playful and coquettish. Her male counterpart (Tristan Carter) was cheeky and a little flamboyant.

This scene transpires into a small community of winemakers where a courtship ends in a marriage then spirals into a power struggle.

Sarah Gatzonis' character has a hypnotic control over the couple (Emma Coppersmith and Michael Gudgeon) - the audience is left in a state of unknowing at this point ...

This work is magical, dangerous, tantalising and a little bit naughty.

The soundtrack for this production is largely provided by the cast itself, whether that be by violin (Tristan Carter), cello (Charley Davenport) or drumming by the entire cast on various wooden cajons or the barrels themselves.

The Wine Project is dance theatre that conveys the sensual, emotional and physical elements that go into wine-making. A good dance, like a good wine, must have a good heart.

The coming together into a special and hypnotic world that transports the audience back to the time of Bacchus and overindulgence.

The seductiveness is tortuous and leaves the audience wanting more. I think a wine was high on the list of wants at the conclusion.

-By Penny Neilson

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