An Adagio Christmas

December 14, 2009 at 2:02 am | Posted in Show Review | 1 Comment
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December 11, 2009 by Show_Hanger

An Adagio Christmas : a Christmas themed circus-theatre production with a wiff of contraversy. Surely a must see; so I went to a performance at Downstage the other night.

I was not sure what to expect, but I came away really pleasd I went. My first impression was of a series of divertissements, but as the performance unfolded, each piece transitioned nicely into the next.

Some impressions. The ballerina on pointe stepping along a line of cans was also a nice tilt to some more traditional circus work. The slapstick chases and fights. The ventriloquist piece with Asalemo Tofete as the puppeteer and Angela Gren as the puppet was a real hoot. Though the fuss in the media about the F-word did detract from it until it got put out. Fortunately, it featured early on. There was live music: the musicians Rosemary Langabeer and William J Henderson, were not accompanists but an integral part of the show. There was even a song number.

A number of pieces particularly struck me: the ballerina channelling the rugby commentary; the trapeze duo; and the tango. Jenny MacArther – in a pink tutu and pointe shoes – went from a soft swan to a rugby goose as the sound track from the TV got louder-and-louder. This was neo-classical-comic ballet ! MacArther managed to hang onto her technique during the frantic goose moments and the final full length dive over the try-line. Rowan Heydon White and Angela Green produced a lyrical pas de deux, in three dimensions, while suspended from the trapeze. It was a wonderful expression of the feelings between a man and a women; even the fact the two of them are women did not detract. White wore ‘mens clothes’. White also combined with Mason West to dance a tango. Once again, the pas de deux was in three dimensions – using the two circus poles at either side of the stage and the space in between.

The show was very physical – both in choregraphy, but also in the themes explored. The show touched on weight issues, physical love, plutonic love, and conflict. It reminded me of the physical and earthy nature of some of Shakespeare’s work – surely Elizabethan England was a rougher place than the quiet refinement of BBC productions.

Deborah Pope has done a great job with Adagio

I am going to see it again.


Adagio, in a circus context, is a term used to describe acrobalance moves involving two performers.


The Beard of Avon

December 3, 2009 at 12:01 am | Posted in Play Review | Leave a comment
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Plot elements revealed!

December 1, 2009 by Show_Hanger

I went to Amy Freed’s The Beard of Avon, the other night, at Gryphon Theatre.

This comedy explores who wrote the works of Shakespeare.

Will Shakspere – played by Tom Rainbird – unhappy with his domestic circumstances in rural Avon, is tempted by the bright lights of the city and of the stage, runs away from his wife and farm! It turns out that he has no real talent to be an actor (can’t: dance, tumble, act, nor orate), but nevertheless becomes a spear shaker – a spear carrier – in a company in London. There his ability to polish and have a neat feeling turn of phrase is discovered and his future is assured – as is Willliam Shakespeare‘s place in history.

It is asserted that Shakspere/Shakespeare polished and finished off the plays (and poems), but who provided the drafts? The play drags forth a number of candidates. It does explain how Shakespeare had such an intermit knowledge of politics and of the nobility.

The play is engaging and mildly funny. The more you are familiar with plays of Shakespeare, the more your will be engaged; I am sure I missed a few references.

Chris O’Grady is superb as Edward de Vere (the Early of Oxford). Gillian Boyes makes a wonderful Queen Elizabeth I – though I am not sure that her handbag was historically accurate! Felicity Cozens took the various sides of Anne Hathaway (grumbling wife, sorry wife, unhappy wife, harlot!) in her stride. Susannah Donovan is great as Geoffrey Dunderbread – a man playing a women.

Worth going – if you have time bone up on your Shakespeare before you go!


New Zealand School of Dance 2009 Graduation Season

December 1, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Posted in Ballet Review, Show Review | 1 Comment
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I went to this year’s graduation performance by the New Zealand School of Dance. The printed programme as has become the norm was produced to a high standards – though I found the font size a little challenging in dim light.

Nov 21, 2009 by Show_Hanger

Saturday the 21st of November, the New Zealand School of Dance‘s Graduation Season 2009, at the New Zealand School of Dance.

The night’s performance consisted of:

  • Pas de Quatre
  • Haere
  • Love
  • Pas de Trois (from Raymonda, Act I)
  • X300
  • Crossed Fingers
  • He Taonga – a gift
  • Airs

There were eight pieces : three ballet pieces and five contemporary pieces; arranged around two intervals.

The opening piece – Pas de Quatre, originally choreographed for four of the (five) pre-eminent ballerinas of their time – set the tone for the night. It spoke of a confidence in the graduates’ techniques and performance abilities, and a willingness to put on something special. Lucile Grahn (Alison Carroll), Carlotta Grisi (Hayley Meek), Fanny Cerrito (Katherine Grange), and Marie Taglioni (Haruka Tsuji) cast a very long shadow.

Love – a short contemporary piece – was amazing, the duo of Nicola Leahy and Robbie Curtis, had so much energy and connection, back by technique.

The second Act opened with the Pas de Trois from Raymonda, Act I. This was superbly executed by three technically very proficient dancers: Haruka Tsuji, Anna Ishii and Andre Santos. The audience appreciated each execution. Watching Santos dance, especially the jump turns, I thought to myself : “I want to see him do Le Corsaire!” At the end of the dance there was a huge outpouring of applause from the audience; and Santos chivourously ushered his two fellow dancers forward – staying well back.

I found the Guinea Pig segment of X300 the modern piece I could most relate to; it was very street theatre – maybe it was the costumes. But it got the point across – that nuclear explosions are not good!

Crossed Fingers was breath taking. I am not sure what neo-classical ballet is, but if this is an example, I am all for it. Katherine Grange and Loughlan Prior were amazing, Katherine Grange in a simple red leotard was both flexible and strong. They executed a series of unorthodox ballet lifts, which were refreshing and stunning in the demands on the dancers’ technique. Grange’s head stand finale stunned the audience !

The final piece – Airs – was a soft lyrical way to finish the evening; light music, and some nice fusion of ballet and contemporary. I found my mind drifting along and left focused on of all things – the handball incident in the France Ireland world Cup qualifier!

Overall, the programme was strong, and pieces that showed the graduates strengths appear to have been chosen.

The evening was a well put together one. As has become the norm, there as a photo exhibition featuring the graduating students, in the lobby; there was a small well stocked cash bar; and some well appointed tables to sit at.


Apologies for taking so long to get my thoughts blogged, but I have had a very busy few days since the preformance.

Oh: FIFA needs to move into the 21st century and have a video official review all red cards, penalities and goals. These events result in a stop in play, so the stuffy ‘it will effect the flow of the game” object won’t wash. As for the France Ireland game, replay it; the official name of the game is Football; the affect of the “Hand of Frog” on the eventual goal makes a mokery of the game itself.

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