NZSD Graduation Season 2010: KYLIAN

November 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | Leave a comment
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Last night, I went to the New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season 2010: Kylian Programme. I had gone to see the Kiwi Programme last week and was really looking forward to an evening showcasing the School’s ballet students. I was also looking to see the choreography of the much heralded Jiri Kylian.

There were four pieces: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer), Evening Songs, Un Ballo, and Stoolgame.

The production standards are very high; probably as high as a professional company. I wonder what the NZ Ballet would make of it – I would really like to see them do some of these pieces. My thought when watching Un Ballo, was: “Why not take this on tour?” Then I answered myself with: “Because the students leave in a few weeks?”

The dancers and repetiteurs (Arlette van Boven and Ken Ossala) are to be congratulated for doing a fantasic job.

I found the use of the classical vocabulary in new ways both facinating yet reassuring – particularly with the first three pieces. The first three pieces were quite fluid and the music lovely. There was sufficient balletic structure that I did not feel uncomfortable (or lost!), yet sufficent modern and neo and abstract that I was challenged.

The lack of music in Stoolgame must have made it very challenging for the seven dancers who would have had to maintain a group rhythm without an external source. Still, their execution was excellent. The lack of music also made it a challenge for me; I did not realise how much I relied on the music to engage with a dance.

Not your traditional tutus, pointe shoes, and grande jetes evening; but worth a look if you want something different – the work that went into this and the sharpness of execution should be rewarded by having an audience watch it.



November 22, 2010 at 12:35 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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I went to see the film RED the other day. RED turns out to stand for: Retired Extremely Dangerous.

The main charaters are played by some very accomplished actors: Bruce Willis, Mary-Lousie Parker, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Ernest Borgnine. It is a pleasure to see them working hard at producing such polished charaterisations of 2-dimensional characters. The comic book origins have not been directed out and it is great to see the actors gently parody themselves.

It looks like everyone enjoyed themselves. The gratuitous use of automatic weapons seems to have particularly fired up Helen Miriam’s character; or was Miriam fired up?

The plots is a little convoluted and contrived – as fitting a dark comic story revolving around retired CIA assassins. At its core, it is a ‘putting the band back together’ movie. Retirement sits heavily on the old killers and they all welcome a chance to relive their youth (and kill again).

Helen Miriam is perfect wearing a white fur coat and carrying a sniper rifle as comfortably as one’s favourite formidable aunt might carry gardening shears.

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, the former number one assasin at the CIA, who is so bored with retirement that he strikes up a chance connection with some one in the US government pensions department. Sarah Ross is ably played by Sarah-Louise Parker, a capable women who has been forced by the vagarities of a unrewarding life to travel only through spy thriller-bodice-rippers. Director , Robert Schwentke, shows restraint with the Anne character – in that she does not transform into another violent character (in a movie populated by violent characters).

John Malkovich, plays the nutty character: “11 years of mind control experiments”, “I don’t like to spend too much time in the open – satelites”. He is great.

It all ends well – for the ‘band’. As with movies of this genre, it ends badly for the bad-guys !

Could this be some kind of handing over of the torch moment? Karl Urban plays William Cooper – the CIA’s current number one assassin. Inevitably Moses and Cooper go head-to-head; Cooper is good, but Moses still has it (just). But does this mean that Urban will star in a series of action thrillers that cement his place in movie history?

Good to see Borgnine get an outing – to be honest I though he had passed away. He has a small role playing the part of a CIA records keeper, buried in a secret vault.

Apollo 13: Mission Control

November 22, 2010 at 12:20 am | Posted in Play Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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The other night I got to help save the three astronauts on Apollo 13 – Jim Lowell, Fred Haise and Sean Bartlett (?). This was Kip Chapman and Brad Knewstubbs’ creation: part play and part dungeons-and-dragons exercise – where the whole audience gets to take part, to bring three astronauts home in their crippled command module. I can proudly say that I was part of the medical team that successfully diagnosed Haise’s unrinary tract infection, and successfully prescribed 1000 milligrams of trimethopro.

One lucky member of the audience got to sub-in for Ken Mattingly – who was grounded because of suspected chicken pox.

The play began outside of the Downstage theatre – turned into the mission control room at the Kennedy Space Centre – in the bar where Sean was the winner of a rigourous selection processs. Then the three astronauts were paraded to the command capsule.

The sets were fantastic, most of the audience sat at a mission control console, and 1-in-3 even got to wear headphones. The consoles looked quite authentic. Most of the audience sat at consoles; the rest sat in the ‘press gallery’. Even the ‘press’ got to take part – their questions were put to a member of mission control by Walter Cronkite!

The script gave everyone at a console something to do, and get an appreciation of what it might have been like. (Very stressful processing three streams of information.)

The Gene Krantz (Jason Whyte), Ken Mattingly (Chapman), and Ashley Hawkins (Ashley Hawkes) characters acted as dungeon masters, as well as providing the fabric of the play. The play used a Walter Cronkite character (Gareth williams) as an MC and to provide continuity.

The final moments were full of suspense. For a bad moment we thought we might have killed the astronauts because we could not find the combination of eight binary switches settings that turned off our red light and switched on our green light.

If you are a space enthusiast, you should go to this.

Because I am analytically inclined, I would have liked more of a briefing on the consoles! I wonder if Chapman and Knewstubb have considered doing the science fiction convention circuit. BTW: 2**8 is 256, which if you could set a new combination every second would require over four minutes to try them all out.

NZSD Graduation 2010: Kiwi Programme

November 19, 2010 at 12:18 am | Posted in Dance Review, Show Review | 2 Comments
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Last night, I went to the opening night for the New Zealand School of Dance 2010 Graduation Season’s Kiwi Programme. For the first time the School is splitting the ballet away from the contemporary dance, spreading the complete programme over two nights.

The Kiwi Programme is the contemporary dance segment, with all of the works choreographed by New Zealand choreographers – Craig Bary, Sarah Foster, Raewyn Hill, Malia Johnston and Michael Parmenter.

It was great.

I particularly enjoyed the Malia Johnston piece (atoms & Eve) and the Raewyn Hill piece (Dance for Sixteen).

In atoms & Eve, Johnston develops the concepts she played with in WOW 2010 and produces a very logically structured and watchable work. The dancers start off ‘naked’ (in flesh coloured bras and boy-legs) and progressively put on more clothes (with more colour) as they go off and back onto the stage. Their single group dance composed of simple moves packed together, switches to more complex moves in ever increasing groups of ever deminishing size. Then it all goes backwards: they loose their clothes and their colour and eventually return to being a single group. The dancers were asked to be bold and athletic – I particularly liked the clever continuous forward-walkovers.

Dance for Sixteen came across to me as angels (16 of them) dancing for joy in the fields of God. The dancers’ sheer joy and enthusiasm was infectious, and the simple white flowing gown complemented the choreography. The music was very nice too. The dance was lyrical – relatively slow and gracefull – borrowing as much from classical ballet as contemporary dance. A fine piece to end the evening on.

Go if you can get tickets.

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