Tutus on Tour – 2009

March 4, 2009 at 2:14 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Show Review | 1 Comment
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I went to the last performance in Wellington of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2009 season of Tutus on Tour at the Opera House. Warning: plot revealed.

February 28, 2009 by Show_Hanger

Every other year, the Company divides itself onto two troupes; each half tours one of the two main islands of New Zealand. Each tutus tour is different – typically a number of short works that will work in some of New Zealand’s smaller theatres. Wellington, as well as being the capital, is at the southern tip of the North Island. So this night was danced by the North Island troupe.

Play bill:

I found Saltarello and Holberg Suite just a bit intellectual; I was unable to engage with the works emotionally. I admired the dancing, but I found my mind wander off to think about the events of my day etc.

At times Saltarello seemed like an exhibition piece to show case the skills of the male dancers – 5 dancers take off at once, complete a turn and land at once, smoothly transitioning into the next sequence. Saltarello featured an unusual move in a pas de deux, where the lady leaps past her partner and grasps his outstretched arm with both her hands and glides along with her toes above the floor, and just before she would kip to avoid touching the floor, with some unseen assistance from her partner, she pikes around her partner’s torso and ends up cradled in his arms, against his chest! They did this several times with effortless ease.

I found the choreography in the Holberg Suite very similar to that in Saltarello and so found my attention wandering. Still well executed and enjoyed by al, at times, vocal audience – members of the South Island Troupe.

In Through to You, I found the pas de duex between Michael Braun and Katie Hurst-Saxton captivating. It was like watching the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliette

I had previously seen Currently Under Investigation a few years ago at the New Zealand School of Dance’s Graduation Season. I preferred the Company’s execution – it seemed slightly more polished and graceful. True this took the hard emotional edge off the work – especially when compared to the Graduation Season (where I think the majority of dancers were contemporary specialist). Another member of my party preferred the edgier graduates version. Still – for me – it partially settles the question around classically trained dancers verses dancers trained with a strong classical base – the classical dancers are ‘smoother’.

Catherine Eddy and Brendan Bradshaw are current members of the Company. Their use of Beatles music, for Koo Koo ka Choo, was inspired, and the audience was taken along for a wonderful journey – made perhaps more enjoyable by the fact that they were at a subconcious level familiar with it – such has the influence of the Beatles on contemporary music. This was a very accessible work – the re-recorded music (so that it could be danced to) retained the original lyrics. Rory Fairweather-Neylan (I think – at times it is hard to identify individual dancers) did a superb job of dancing what was effectively the overture to the work.

A nice innovation was to project short film clips in between some of the pieces. Most of the clips were of the Company and its support crew (without which it would not be possible) giving the audience a glimpse behind the scenes. Then the tilt to Abbey Road – projection of a pedestrian crossing – at the end of Koo Koo Ka Choo was just on the right side of corny. It did set up the march/walk-off by the dancers.

Overall, a well executed production with something for everyone.


Two annoying points: the sound system – at times it could not cope; and the heat – the Opera House still has not solved the heat build-up issue up in the Gallery (aka ‘The Gods’) that caused people so much discomfort during Tutandot in the mid-90’s.


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  1. […] as Koo Koo Ka Choo – by Catherine Eddy and Brendan Bradshaw; which made it onto the playbill of Tutus on Tour 2009. So I look forward to Tutus on Tour 2011, where this piece will be a little more polished – […]

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