Try This

June 27, 2012 at 7:14 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to see Try This at Bats the other night.

What I got was four dancers and a series of connected pieces based on the senses.

Fleur Cameron has created an series of short pieces that play with and try to show the five senses as movement.

Everyone in the audience got given an apple and could have munched it when the dancers – Fleur Cameron, Isabelle Nelson, Felicity Hamill, and Frankie Sampson – took it in turn to (try to) eat an apple. Nice tilt to the old adage – you can’t tell a book by its cover.

I was quite struck by the smell and touch pieces too.

Bats made for an nice intimate venue to debut this contemporary dance work.

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Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Embassy Theatre (2012)

June 23, 2012 at 4:48 am | Posted in Dance Review, Film Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show the last night and it was great! Big thanks to the Embassy for ‘hosting’.

There was the usual “virgin” and “slut” stickers being stuck to participants’ chests, as they came in.

There was a mini floor show before the screening to select the best costume and sluttiest ‘slut’ – a mistress of ceremonies dominated proceedings!

Audience participa … tion, as has become usual for this annual event, was off the scale. Many attendees got into it the swing of things and dressed inappropriately. They certainly danced and partied and threw the contents of the participation bags (available for purchase) – once again I was challenged by the toilet roll – maybe next year.

Fantastic !!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

June 23, 2012 at 3:32 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see Jiro Dreams of Sushi the other day. I missed it at last year’s film festival, so I was pleased when it came out on general release.

The film is about 85 year sushi master Jiro Ono, who through hard work and dedication has a small sushi bar – recognised as the best sushi restaurant in the world: you have to book at least a month in advance, some people book a year in advance, and it (Sukiyabashi Jiro) was awarded three Michelin stars in 2010.

The film has a number of themes: work hard, Japanese culture, sushi, and fish.

To say that, Sushi is mainly rice combined with fish, is a massive understatement. In reality, assembling the sushi pieces is a performance art form, and the secret to the great taste is in the selection and preparation of the raw ingredients. It looks like very little technology is required. The hands that finally make and serve sushi have mde the same moves day after day after day. In Jiro’s restaurant, apprentices go through ten years of training.

In modern day Japan, it appears that few people are willing to go through such a long course of study and training. Many of the older generation feel that the younger generation do not want to work as hard as they did – a common thread in conversations between Yoshikazu and the restaurant’s suppliers.

Yoshikazu is Jiro’s oldest son; he will take over the restaurant when Jiro finally retires. Yoshikazu has been going to the Tokyo fish market early in the morning for the past 15 years buying tuna and other fish for that day’s meals. Yoshikazu was trained by Jiro, and it appears that the restaurant’s high standards will be maintained when he finally takes over. [The film reveals that it was Yoshikazu that cooked for the Michelin inspectors.]

The Tokyo fish market is worth several documentary films. There is a long sequence where Yoshikazu is buying tuna at the fish market from his regular tuna supplier. The fish are presented like jewels and it is a very hands on process to select produce.

There is even a little plug for sustainable tuna!

The film is a must see if you are a foodie. I am glad I went to see it. I found it inspiring that a man had found something he liked so much that he still worked long days to produce perfection. This is Jiro’s advice: find something you enjoy and work to be the best it can be.

Leaps & Sounds

June 20, 2012 at 9:26 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see the first collaboration between the Royal new Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for six years, the other night at the Sir Michael Fowler Centre. It was fabulous. I am so glad I went: it was so good; and, it was free!

This was a unique collaboration; the music was from past winners of the Todd Corporation Young Composers Awards; the dances were choreographed and danced by members of the Company – accompanied by the Orchestra.

The programme was:

  • musicboxgirls, choreographed by Paul Matthews; music: Alone in the Night, composed by Matthew Childs
  • Evocation, Choreographed by Adriana Harper; Music: Evocation from the Seas, composed by Max Wilkinson
  • No Limits, choreographed by Qi Huan; Music: Tales of Greece suite III, composed by Christina Reid
  • 4 + 1, choreographed by Dimitri Kleioris; music: Caught in the Headlights, composed by Corwin Newall
  • Dreams of Power, choreographed by Sam Shapiro; music:Dreams of Power, composed b y Umar Zakaria
  • Feral, choreographed by Jaered Glavin; music: Feral, composed by Robbie Ellis
  • [Inner], choreographed by Brendan Bradshaw; music: [Inner], composed by Alex Taylor
  • wind from us, choreographed by Kohei Iwamoto; music: The Persistence of our Youth, composed by Umar Zakaria

A number of items stood out. In Evocation, a pas de trois, choreographer Adriana Harper ably used  ballet’s powerful lyrical palette to deliver an – err – evocative dance. In No Limits, Qi Huan, showed a masculine touch, using strong lines and powerful lifts ably executed by Jacob Chown, Helio Lima, and Paul Matthews.

Dreams of Power brings boxing to dance. This too was a very masculine work – showing the warm-up and a short impactful fight. It was stylised yet very real.  The programme had this as a fight/dance between a man and a woman dancer, but in the evening session, the two parts were danced by men. I imagine it would have been even more powerful had it been danced by a man and a women – though potentially unsuitable for a general audience with children.

Feral was an abstract zany piece that explored the androgynous potential of dance. The dancers wore flesh coloured unitards that covered their faces and head, and confused the audience with ridiculous pony tails. At times I found myself laughing for no apparent reason!

wind from us, was witty and funny. Four men courted the favours of a lady, while occasionally breaking wind! Yang Liu, the object of their attentions, was, at times, treated as a human ribbon! The costumes were also very clever – two colours, one across the colour wheel from the other.

The SIr Michael Fowler centre turned out to be a good venue; the Orchestra conducted by Pieter Inkinen filled the auditorium with a full yet soft quality of music.

I would have gladly paid the normal triple-bill ticket price. Maybe some of the pieces could be included in future triple-bill tours. I think the Company and the Orchestra sold itself short by not charging – there wasn’t even a koha kete.

This wonderful fusion of choreography and music was what I was expecting when I went to see Rock the Ballet.

Rock the Ballet

June 12, 2012 at 8:10 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | 1 Comment
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I went to Rasta Thomas’ Rock the Ballet the other night.

As it says in it’s promotion: it is “a joyous, sexy, high energy dance show filled with awesome music, and set to a backdrop of cool animated scenery.”

From their resumes and their performance on stage, the dancers would not be out of place in any top classical company. The dancers were just fantastic. The choreography took full advantage of their classical training and added touches of other other dance genres and gymnastics.

There was lots of energy. The music was some of the most well known and top rock songs in recent times. The splits, high kicks, press to handstands (and other variants), and grand jetes were some of the best executed I have ever seen on stage.

But I was disappointed. At times I felt I was watching an extended rock music video – the dancers were complementing the music and not the other way around – I was reminded of the Oomph Dancers on Ready to Roll. At other times I felt I was watching a better execution of The Full Monty – these segments certainly appealed to some of the ladies in the audience!

I liked the duets the most – I like a story, rather than pure abstraction. So I would have like to see more choreography where the dancers interact with each other.

Still I am glad to have seen it as it helped me clarify what I enjoy about dance – and the dancers were very very good.

..Like there is no tomorrow

June 10, 2012 at 9:33 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to Warren Miller‘s 2012 movie – .. Like there is no tomorrow – the other night. As usual, very inspirational stuff. As usual, it marks the imminent arrival of the ski season.

We revisit skiing in Kashmir – where the lifties carry semi-automatic weapons!

There is lots of heli-skiing.

Skiing on Mt Washington – two guys skin up to the top of a big big bowl.

We go to Alaska.

There is some amazing stuff – like the Norwegian guy who’s parents own a ski lodge, and has his own snow plow, and has his own international freestyle competition.

The skiing and boarding in the back country is just – wow!

We even visit New Zealand – where I live! Though the accents seemed a bit contrived. And I must correct the film: according to Te Ara there are 40 million sheep in New Zealand – not 30.

The segment I found most inspiring was watching the retired Olympic skiers tackling the back country. Their style and form was effortless and graceful.

Nobel’s Last Will

June 5, 2012 at 6:53 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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A chance came up to see a Scandinavian film – Nobel’s Last Will – the other night, and I enjoyed it. The scenes of Stockholm in winter and at night did not do the film any harm.

The plot revolves around three strong women: Annika Bengtzon (Malin Crépin), Kitten (Antje Traue), and Caroline von Behring (Anna von Rosen). Annika is a journalist – a crime reporter – mother and wife. Kitten, real name never revealed, is a professional killer. Caroline is head of the Nobel committee for the medicine prize. The three meet at the gala ball following the Nobel Prizes ceremony, and before the ball is over one will be dead, one will have been shot, and one will have had a ‘gag’ order served on her.

On the face of it, a Nobel prizewinner was the target of an attempted assassination by terrorists, but Annika is not sure.

The film follows Annika through a series of twits and turns till she confronts the mastermind behind the killings – as the film progresses the bodies stack up.

The film is in Swedish – with sub-titles. Which just adds to the feel of the film. The film and the Swedes are very different from the run of the mill Hollywood thrillers.

There are some nice touches: Annika tells a boy who has been bullying her son at day care that she will “kill him” if he threatens or hurts her son again. This showed me that she was not that different from Kitten!

See it if you get a chance. The fact that practically everyone looks very attractive in a Scandinavian way doesn’t do the film any harm 🙂

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