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20 Feb 2020

Local dancer and choreographer turned theatre creator

Hannah McFarlane’s first original piece ‘Three Little Words’ will make its debut at the Hamilton Gardens Arts festival from the 27-29 of February in the recently-opened Surrealist garden.

This original piece of theatre weaves together dance, spoken word, theatre and acrobatics in a timeless story about love – a universal theme for all regardless of age or background.

They began in December 2018 with an application to Creative Waikato’s inaugural Incubator program. McFarlane worked with internationally acclaimed artists through the creative development process; Sacha Copland (Java Dance Company), Eve Gordon (The Dust Palace), playwright Victor Rodger and Louise Potiki-Bryant (Atamira Dance Company), composer Dr. Jeremy Mayall , theatre director and maker Dr. Laura Haughey (Equal Voices Arts) and actor Kyle Chuen.

Hannah’s piece was one of three chosen to be presented to Creative New Zealand and was subsequently gifted with a first-of-its-kind arts grant in the Waikato. This funding has enabled the piece to be workshopped to full development.

Hannah grew up in Hamilton attending Waikato Diocesan School for Girls and Limelight Dance Academy. She extended her dance training full time in Wellington for two years and has since returned to teach and work locally.

“It’s been an unusual journey to move from dance to theatre, however, the lessons you learn in dance to work tirelessly and aim for the best have been incredibly valuable.”

Hannah has seen her work go from strength to strength in the past year. She debuted her first professional choreographic role in the highly successful We Will Rock You with Clarence Street Theatre in 2019 and took her first competitive dance troupe of students aged 13-18 from regional to national success.

‘Three Little Words’ has brought together a team from all over the world. Devising and directing are multiple award-winning artists  Mihailo Lađevac (actor and a full-time member of the National Theatre in Belgrade, Serbia), alongside Dr Laura Haughey (Artistic Director of Equal Voices Arts, and convenor of Theatre Studies at the University of Waikato). The cast of three comprises of McFarlane; Christina Wilson – an actor setting her sights on a masters degree at one of the world’s top drama schools; and Jair Ramirez – an internationally accomplished aerialist and circus performer.

The wide background of artists has created an incredibly diverse and playful atmosphere from which to create this original piece of dance theatre.

The team began rehearsing in October 2019, working from scratch without a script. They are working with a process called devising where the group collaborate through a mixture of physical and verbal improvisation and detailed brainstorming to create scenes.

Hannah explains, “It has been a big change of mindset from dance – where you know almost exactly what you want to make when going into a rehearsal, but it has been an incredibly eye-opening process. I feel very lucky to be working with such highly skilled and talented people. The entire process from the beginning of the Incubator scheme has given me the confidence to step out into a career in this industry.”

“Working on this project with everyone involved, especially Hannah as such a talented dancer and choreographer, has been equally challenging and rewarding. We hope to bring magical moments at the Festival in February” says Christina.

‘Three Little Words’ will be premiering at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival from 27th-29th February in the newly-opened Surrealist garden. The group hope to later tour it around New Zealand and internationally.

Following the love story of two young women, Three Little Words celebrates the imprint that ‘love’ leaves behind and the universal struggles that are faced when life gets in the way. It explores decisions that are made, opportunities that are missed and the moments that stay with us and shape us forever.