ARTIST PASS // Carrie Rae Cunningham

This time every year Q Theatre is a moving, leaping, striding, pulsing beast driven by the best that dance has to offer in NZ. This time of year Q Theatre is home to the Tempo Dance Festival

To give us the scoop on this year's Festival delights and tell us a bit about her life in dance, we had a Q&A with Tempo's new Artistic Director Carrie Rae Cunningham.

Tempo is in its 12th year but this will be your first at its helm as the Artistic Director – so give us a bit of insight into your new role and how you put together the Festival? I'm doing a lot of what I've been doing for years with Tempo, really, but now I'm just doing more of it. I have a fantastic team that I work with - this is not a job you can do by yourself so I never take sole credit for any success. The festival is huge! I will say that it is really satisfying to be able to programme an artist or a work that you really love and share the experience with so many people. I'm all about introducing audiences to new things.

While you’re new to the Artistic Director role, you’ve been with Tempo for 7 years – in your eyes, how has the festival evolved over the years? There's so much more diversity now - not in just terms of people but in the styles of dance that are being developed and created by fusing skills and disciplines. Dancers are working with dramaturges, composers, filmmakers, visual artists, poets and other artists outside of dance. Choreographers are incorporating their own skills outside of their dance practice to inform their work. Also, there are so many dancers I first met in The Kids Show years ago who are now either performing in Alchemy (the tertiary dance show) or in full-length shows like Out of the Box. It's so good to see that dance is still such a huge part of their lives and that they are continuing to develop their craft.

What can Tempo Festival lovers and newcomers look forward to this year? Tempo regulars will love the variety we have on offer. We've gone in some new directions with shows this year, like All That..., the jazz showcase, and $5 Underground Yoga in the Q Vault, which I am really looking forward to. The festival is a real mix of what I like to call "easy listening" dance (for fraidy cats) and more challenging, thought-provoking shows that get people talking. I'm excited about everything, but my highlights will probably be Triumphs and Other Alternatives by Muscle Mouth (Ross McCormack), Ahua by Nancy Wijohn and Kelly Nash, and Malaga with Thomas Fonua and Vivian Hosking-Aue.

For people out there who may be a bit apprehensive about seeing/experiencing dance what do you recommend they see to ‘dip their feet into dance’ for the first time? I'm all about throwing people in the deep end, but if I was going to gently coax them into the dance waters, then Y Chromozone is a well-rounded show to start with. It's got plenty to entertain folks with, but there are a few surprises thrown in there to shake things up. Alchemy is another good one - there are quite a variety of dance styles in the show and they are performed with amazing energy and passion by some of New Zealand's finest tertiary dance students.

As a dancer what has been your most nerve-wracking or embarrassing on stage experience? There have been many! Wardrobe malfunctions always add a bit of excitement to any show, and I did run straight into a lighting boom one time and nearly knocked myself out. Many years ago I broke my toe during the first 5 minutes of an hour-long dance piece and had to do the whole show in agonising pain.

If being involved in the world of dance was not a possibility – what would you do? A professional game show contestant - it's my dream job.

What is your dream dance ‘menu’? A night of dance tapas from some of my favourite choreographers like Douglas Wright, Stephanie Lake, Malia Johnston, Ann Dewey, Cat Ruka, Amelia Grey, Sarah Foster-Sproull and Moana Nepia.

If you could be invited to any dancer/choreographer’s summer barbeque who would you choose? UK choreographer Michael Clark, because I think a party at his place could be quite wild. Dress ups, glitter and naked dancing would probably be involved. But then again, that kind of thing happens at almost any dancer party anyway. I would love to go through his record collection.

If you were in trouble – which dancer would you want on hand to save you? Georgie Goater and Nancy Wijohn - true Superwomen! They are strong as and would show up in the best outfits.

Have you started planning 2016 yet? Any secret things in the works that you could reveal? Oh yes, I have been working away at the cauldron! I don't want to jinx anything, but there may be a grand revival of a long, lost dance by one of NZ's most treasured choreographers (come on, Creative NZ...). Also a few things outside of the perameters of the conventional dance box. I'm all about funny dances at the moment so look out for a few of those.

Anything else you’d like to share or say to our Q Theatre dance fans ahead of the Festival? Make a night of it and see something you know you'll like and something you know nothing about. This has been my challenge to everyone for this year's festival. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new - I promise you won't regret it.


You heard her! See what's on and get along: Tempo Dance Festival 2015 from 30 September - 18 October.

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