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Hanging around . . . Java Dance Theatre's Sacha Copland performs in Back of the Bus, which will be part of the upcoming Waitaki Arts Festival. PHOTO: JARRAD SENG

Buses, cheese and cream are not things you usually associate with dance.

However, at the inaugural Waitaki Arts Festival in late September and October, they will be the focus of three shows performed by Wellington-based Java Dance Theatre.

Artistic director Sacha Copland was in Oamaru recently for an event to promote the festival and said she looked forward to bringing the company’s brand of entertainment to town, in the form of Back of the Bus,The Creamery and family-friendly Cheese.

She believed Back of the Bus was the most unique of the three, as it was literally performed on the road.

“It’s a dance show on a moving bus,” Copland said.

“We go to a few locations as part of the show .. the audience meet at the Oamaru Opera House and then get on the bus and we basically take them on a moving dance tour of Oamaru.”

The show is described in the Waitaki Arts Festival programme as a “magical mystery tour” that combines physical comedy, kinetic energy and captivating scenarios, which take a close-up look at characters both on and off the bus as their stories unfold around several Oamaru locations.

Copland said the show had been well received both in New Zealand and Australia, and there were plans for performances in China next year.

Meanwhile, Cheese features “dancing milkmaids and yodelling goatherds” as they attempt to make cheese for the first time.

“It’s part of a series we’ve done. We’ve done bread and wine and now we’re doing cheese and we thought Oamaru was the perfect place to do it, because we love Oamaru’s cheese.

The company’s other show,The Creamery, is described as an “immersive” experience through a “culinary investigation into culture” and the world of cream, milk, herbs, leather, bells and cheese-making.

Both will be performed at the Loan and Merc in Harbour St.

The 35-year-old Copland, who has been dancing for close to 30 years and grew up in Kirwee, near Christchurch, graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance at 17 and formed Java Dance Theatre when she was 21.

“I love integrating the senses,” she said of her incorporation of food into the company’s performances.

Copland looked forward to returning to Oamaru for the arts festival and believed it was the ideal place to stage such an event.

“I think it’s great .. it’s great to see so much local content, too.”

The festival runs from September 21 to October 8 and features music, dance, comedy, art exhibitions, productions and more.