NZSD: 45th Graduation Season

November 29, 2012 at 8:53 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the New Zealand School of Dance’s 45th Anniversary Graduation Season last night. The programme was well put together and printed on high quality glossy paper. The production contained a mixture of ballet, contemporary and neo-classic ballet.

I particularly enjoyed the neo-classic work entitled: Fractals. The lighting, the body hugging leotards and black tights worn by the ladies, and simple black vest and shorts worn by the men, gave all the dancers a tall androgynous look. The choreography contained many deliberately repetitions of the same elements to give the dance a fractal nature; the choreography required the dancers to be strong and flexible with a slightly mechanical air – they (Chloe Eincke and William Fitzgerald, with Hannah Askew, Olivia Berrell, Tiffinay Pellow, Mitchell Powell, Tynan Wood, and Benjamin Obst) were brilliant.

I also liked Verse and Faun.

Verse was choreographed, and costume design was also, by Loughlan Prior, specifically for this production in memory of David Carson-Parker – a long time patron of the Graduation Season. It was danced very ably by Luis Piva Junior.

Faun was danced by Gareth Okan – who successfully gave the work a strong animalistic feel. I did wonder what this work would look like if it was danced by a women.

Another excellent production.



November 26, 2012 at 9:22 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Skyfall the other day. This film completes the Daniel Craig re-boot of James Bond. By the end film key characters will be in-place for the next era of Bond.

Spoiler Warning – plot elements revealed.

The film fills in the missing back story of Bond’s childhood.

There is a new Q: John Cleese is a bit long in the tooth to provide a stable part of the Bond universe; instead Ben Whishaw is set up for the role – possible for life!

There is a new Moneypenny.

There is a new menace – Silva – played by Javier Bardem; he is from M’s (Dame Judi Dench) past, out to repay a betrayal. He is a new kind of villain: able to mix it with the physical stuff and a bit of a cyber wizard. As it turns out a very deadly combination.

There is a short romantic interest – played by very Eurasian looking Bérénice Marlohe.

Despite the cyber-terrorism theme, Bond returns to the basics: Q issues him with a gun and a radio. Gone are the gadgets of the past. Even, the Aston Martin DB5 makes a welcome return. There is a quiet question that hangs through the film: are the old values and approaches appropriate in the new world?

It is a Daniel Craig James bond, so it is gritty.

Hopefully no komodo dragon were hurt in the making of this movie.


November 25, 2012 at 8:45 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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Last night I went to Whitreia Institute of Technology’s Year 2 Commercial Dance Graduation Show –Express. It certainly lived up to its name – lots of numbers and what must have been many fast-changes back stage.

The show opened with a very nice big feather-fans and showgirls routine. The show closed with a finale based on the Joseph and and the Amazing Technicolor Raincoat stage show.

I liked If – choreographed by Claire O’Neil – a contemporary dance work with a serious message that cleverly incorporated some singing. In fact, there were two singing numbers: Primadonna Girl and Break Away; the latter sung by Ebony Sushames.

There was lots of energy in Too legit to Quit – everyone seemed to pour themselves into it. The dancers certainly got lots of encourage from the audience.

Peter Pan & Friends was a fun condensed version of Peter Pan – without the pirates!

I think everyone in the audience liked Olympics a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the 2012 London Olympics.

There was also some nice partner dancing – Sam McLeod partnered with Eliana Taylor, Kelly Wisniewski, and Kate Holden. in three separate pas de deux – with some very nice lifts.

Another fun production. Whitreia Institute of Technology should publicise these shows more and consider using a venue with a proper stage. Some of the choreography had to be adjusted for the two posts that intrude into the stage.

Killing Them Softly

November 22, 2012 at 8:29 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Killing Them Softly the other day and was quite surprised.

It was not just a ‘muck with the mafia and you die’ film.

The film had a number of layers. Yes, there was the ‘mafia enforcer cleans up’ plot – Brad Pitt is the enforcer. Who likes to do his job with a minimum of emotional fuss – hence the name. Then there is the ‘mafioso are people too’ – James Gandolfini is the hit man with ‘some issues’. But the really interesting layer was the ‘the economy runs on trust and confidence’ one. The underground economy – like any other economy – stops when people stop playing by the rules and no one can be sure of what the rules are and so they all hold onto their cash.

So, the confidence of the market must be reset, people’s perceptions need to be corrected, and Brad Pitt is tasked to do it. Those who broke the rules of the market must be removed – violently.

The film pushes the [black] economy angle very hard – whenever there is a TV on it is showing President Obama campaigning (for his first term) and the Global Financial Crisis playing out as the backdrop to the election.

The R16 rating is a good indicator of the violence.

Oh yes, organised crime has gone corporate and decision making is by committee, with a Secretary – an accountant – who project manages the Pitt’s character.

Front Back

November 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Event Review, Exhibition Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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The opening event of the 2012 Blow Creative Arts Festival – put on by Massey University’s College of Creative Arts – included an innovative fashion show exhibiting 13 graduating designers: Front Back let people see the clothes on the catwalk and up close, and see behind the scenes.

The venue and staging subtly co-opted the audience into taking part – for me this will be the closest I will ever get to being behind the scenes of a fashion show.

The show combined live action with screen projection: the fashion show was projected against an entire wall of the venue. The venue itself was arranged with a long island (perpendicular to the screen), of clothes rack, designers, models, hair and make-up people, a steam iron, and generally real fashion show items. These combined with the stark clean white bare surrounds created a very effective ‘set’.

The audience was able to circulate around the island – looking at the ‘behind the scenes’ activity, get a close look at the clothes, and/or look at the screen – take photos etc.

The cast of designers, models, etc played themselves. Of course the clothes were the actual ones designed and made by the designers – also quite elegantly dressed. It was all very glamourous.

A model would walk through a door and appear on the screen. At first, it looked like the model was just in another room – relayed by a camera. But then the clothes changed magically on the model, on the screen. This avoided the models having to actually change clothes in front of the audience. Then the model, on screen, would walk back through ‘the door’ into the set.

The clothes were beautiful, and I wish the designers all the best.

Well done Alex Barton for the concept and a great production.

Giselle (RNZB, 2012)

November 8, 2012 at 9:21 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s new production of Giselle. Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel have done an excellent job of the choreography.

It was great – well worth a look: the principals were great, the choreography had innovation, the standard of dancing very high, and sets and lighting well suited to the story.

Gillian Murphy was a sublime Giselle. She, Murphy, was technically flawless – subtle, light, flexible, yet strong and fast when necessary. Her solo during the wedding was astonishing – drawing gasps of admiration from the audience. Her dancing as a Wili – floating about – was just so.

Qi Huan, as Albrecht, was a revelation. His leaps and jumps were breath taking high. His strength and stamina was there for all to see as Albrent danced and danced all night – making it to the dawn, and life, as the Wilis retired. He got some very big rounds of applause.

Abigail Boyle aloof and imperious as Myrtha – the Queen of the Wilis. She produced strong spirt that floated about the forest.

Lucy Green and Medhi Angot were well paired as the wedding couple.

I liked that every peasant lifted his partner so that they could catch the bride’s flowers. It was nice Kiwi touch – like rugby locks being lifted in the lineout, or a goal keep being lift by the goal defence to block a shot in netball.

The second act was my favourite – with all the action and drama concentrated on the main protagonists and the supernatural action in the forest.

The Company seems to have upped its game all across the board – well done.

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