Eyes of Egypt

November 20, 2017 at 7:46 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to Whitireia Polytechnics’ Commercial Dance Diploma graduation show the other night. I was fun and very professional.

This year’s theme was Egyptian – the show was arranged in four segments: a market place, a desert, a pyramid, and a banquet.

The choreography was very sharp and entertaining; the dancing was very precise, yet enthusiastic and fun. There was a nice mix of hip hop, lyrical, jazz, ballet, and show girl. This year the lighting and back projection seemed particularly sharp and bright.

My favourite section was the banquet – the harem girls teased the eunuch, the court sequences were touching, and there were multiple fan dances!

Another year, another fantastic show; get tickets while you can. Also it will be your last chance to experience the Vivian Street venue; next year they should be in the new Cuba Street facility.



Whiterea Commercial Dance: Year One Variety Showcase (2017)

September 5, 2017 at 9:24 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to another enjoyable evening of energetic dancing at the Whiterea Performance Centre. The year one commercial dance students were showcasing what they had learnt during the year.

One thing that I realised about commercial dance compared to other dance professions,is that there are no intervals! 14 students danced non-stop for over an hour – in 22 numbers. These ranged from contemporary, jazz, classical ballet, tap, hip hop, and showgirl. There was even singing – by Tamsin Howe, who sang and danced her way through “Rule the World”

This year’s intake had a strong tap contingent and it was nice to see a whole chorus line of tap dancers doing their thing to ‘Puttin’On the Ritz”.

This year’s showcase only had one ballet number, which was artfully disguised as show girls doing a fan dance – to strains of Swan Lake – entitled Fanfare – choreographed by Anne Gare. There was the crowd pleasing circle of fans – where the dancers arrange themselves in a circle and appear to descend down onside and up the other;there was also two lines of fans doing a ‘Mexican wave’ effect. This was all nicely intermixed with some classical ballet.

There was a nice little musical theatre number, with another take on a love triangle, sung and danced around the Charleston. It was little cheeky and fun – the ‘boy’ (Cole Bockman) doesn’t end up with either ‘girl’, one off whom walks off with the ‘mike’!

There were some ‘darker’ pieces – one that stayed in my mind was Lost in a Book Choreographed by Shenna Dunn. In fact six of the numbers were choreographed by the first year students; with Georgia Wilson doing two – Escalate You and Roxie.

Mr Bockman was a busy man; being the only male dancer in this year’s intake, I and sure he appeared in more numbers than most of the other dancers. He was in the chorus and partnering – so was on stage a lot. He got to showcase his agility with some nice gymnastic moves (as did some of the other dancers); he got to do lots of lifts, supports (dancers high kicking to rest on his shoulder, dancers doing forward walkovers over him), catches, and jumps. In one sequence he does a ‘frog jump’ over his standing partner. In multiple numbers he ends up catching his partner who literally runs then jumps into his ‘safe’ arms.

Another fun night at one of Wellington’s best kept secrets.


November 30, 2014 at 8:59 am | Posted in Dance Review | Leave a comment
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Last weekend I went to see the NZSD’s Graduation Season; this week I went to Whitireia Performance Centre’s Commercial Dance Graduation Show.

This year’s show was very good, the dancers improve from year-to-year, and this year the show was very cohesive. Every piece was based on a painting or set of related paintings. This gave each piece a bit of context, which made each piece more accessible. The choreography, technique, and the performance did the rest.

Seven of the dancers did an amazing cancan. Their high kicks were ear snapping. The choreography threw in high kicks, with clever little hitch kicks, some comedy, forward and backward walkovers, and the jump and drop into a side split!

The show gave the dancers an opportunity to show their group and individual talents. there was ballet, lyrical jazz, jazz, tap, hip hop and contemporary. I found the contemporary piece choreographed for Edward Munch’s The Scream quite unsettling. There was even a little bit of flamenco – Fabian Perez’s Dancer in Red. The tap piece showed off lighten fast footwork. I even found myself enjoying the hip hop. The duets were great: Zachary Warmouth being the only male dancer did much of the partnering, and lifting. Many of the dancers also had some cool gymnastics moves.

I hope the show contributes to the dancers’ audition videos, because they would have some very good footage.

Year 1 Showcase

September 14, 2014 at 5:13 am | Posted in Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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Last night, I went to the Whitireia Performance Centre showcase of their Year 1 Commercial Dance students. I always like these comercial dance shows: there is a variety of dance genres, music I recognise, and everyone on stage is generally smiling and having some fun; often, the audience gets involved, and it is a great atmosphere.

There were (I think) 16 students; and they seemed a very talented bunch; including a young man who stood out, not only because he was the only male, but for his strong technique and connection with the audience. Many dancers are clearly classically trained, having come through the ballet school ‘system’ – there were some nice grande jetes, entrechartes, well controlled pirouettes, lifts, and russians. There appears to be a strong group of hip hop dancers, and they produced some interesting work – giving some of the contemporary pieces a hard edged reality (as opposed to the abstraction that so mystifies me). Some of the students can sing and they got to do some cabaret and burlesque items – bravo. Generally, the class was very flexible and showed great extension; and projected their enthusiasm well.

I liked ‘River Deep’, Kitri’s Solo from Don Quixote, which segued nicely into a tongue-in-cheek piece involving a ballet audition. I also liked ‘You’ (and edgy contemporary piece), ‘Mein Herr’ (a burlesque piece), and ‘Happy’ (a comic tap dance number).

‘Happy’ was clever: everyone was dressed in a lime-green version of ‘Wally’ (from the Where’s Wally books), and showcased the dancers’ tap abilities and their miming skills.

I would recommend it, but I went the last show. But I can recommend all of the Whitireia dance shows – for not just their precision, but their energy, and enthusiasm. It is also the only time you get to see anything with a Show Girls flavour.


December 2, 2011 at 8:20 am | Posted in Musical Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the Whitireia’s production of the Tony Award winning musical Nine, the other night. The show is an opportunity to show case the it’s graduating musical theatre and commercial dance students. The show had excellent production values and clever use of lighting, back production, and props.

Warning: plot elements discussed.

I was surprised at how sophisticated it was; for some reason I expecting something a bit lighter and humorous. Instead, it was dramatic: as it explored the facets of the main character – Guido Contini. Nine is a semi-biographical portrayal Federico Fellini’s – the famous Italian film director – life. At times it was almost operatic.

The whole show revolves around the Guido character and Nick Purdie carried the show well – displaying on stage maturity that belied his relatively young age. Guido is under a lot of pressure, as his personal life falls apart, and his reputation is assaulted by a series of ‘flops’. He takes refuge at a seaside spa to get away from it all, but on ends up running head on into his problems: his mistress Carla ends up leaving him; his decease mother (played by Caitlin Barrie comes to him in visions; he needs a film plot; and his muse deserts him too.

The seductive ‘telephone’ scene featuring Carla was ably handled by Bridget Connor as she sang and draped herself over the stage and Guido. The emotional duet between Guido and Claudia (played by Bethany Gould) was wonderful – there was a real sense of connection between the “director” and his favourite actress (and muse). In the end only his wife (played by Emma Walker) comes back to him.

In between all the singing are – true to the show’s Broadway roots – dance sequences. At times there was a Bollywood feel to it.

At the end of the show, I felt a bit exhausted from Guido’s emotional journey through his life and the encounters with his women. But Whitireia was ready with a happy fix. The night ended with a little upbeat dance piece Be Italian!. The transition into the dance was a bit of uneven and I think the transition could be smoothed by changing the choreography slightly and introducing the dance piece as one of Guido’s films.

Well done everyone.

Disturbia: a Tale of Terror

October 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Recital Review, Show Review | 2 Comments
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Last night, I went to see the Whitireia (Institute of Technology) Year One Commercial Dance students’ end of year production. It was fun and I really enjoyed it.

The evening began with an energetic tap version of the Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was a very clever homage to an iconic show, and set the tone nicely for the rest of the evening. The foyer being decorated like a graveyard also helped set the scene!

The whole horror theme was put to good use with a number of UV pieces – the dancing Skeletons were particularly effective.

Two individual performances stood out: the Black Cat solo and the doll in Reflections.

Reading the dancers’ bio.s in the foyer revealed that most of them had ballet training, and this showed in a number of pieces – particularly “Spirits”, with some very nice lines and grand jetes. Having two staff with extensive professional ballet experience can’t do any harm either – Anderson and Samblaceno.

From the dancers’ bio.s and watching the performance, it seem clear to me that the standard of dancer and dance has steadily increasing over the last few years – perhaps the benefit of being part of the better resourced Whitireia. The production demonstrated a range of dance styles, including drama (Werewolves), burlesque (Vampires), and even musical theatre (Witches).

Even though it was the last show, the cast – Brianna Coughlin, Cassandra Wallis, Chelsea O’Rielly, Ebony Sushames, Eliana King, Hope Bartley, Jennifer Maxwell, Karis Vernon, Kate Bruce, Kate Holden, Kelly Wisniewski, Laura Vaughan, Melissa Bardell, Michaella Sayer, Natalie, Morris, Natasha Hammond, Olivia Van Den Yssel, Racquel Brant-Partridge, and Rebecca Hulse – poured out their energy and enthusiasm – good work guys.

Whitireia should promote these productions more widely.

Wellington Performing Arts Centre: Amazon

December 6, 2010 at 12:24 am | Posted in Dance Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the opening night of the WPAC Commercial Dance Graduates 2010 graduation shows, last Friday night.

As the name suggests the theme of the show was flora and fauna one might found in the rainforest.

There was a balletic feel to the show – in contrast to the more broadway themed of past shows. It got quite physical at times – swim-throughs, backward walkovers, etc.

There were 24 dance sequences ! This gave the 15 graduates solo (or small group) dances, which were intermixed with a dances involving all of them.

I liked: Bat, Snake, Panther, Fireflies, and Glow Worms. Fireflies used little lights to light up the three dancers and to enhance movement. Glow Worms cleverly used ventilating tubes to create giant orange worms – the clever choregraphy produced a quirky humourous and entertaining dance.

All the dancers seemed to be enjoying themselves; poured lots of energy and enthusiasm into their performance; and acquited themselves well technically.

The audience was very receptive and got quite vocal at times.

I hope lots of people got along to see it. I think the WPAC graduation show is an undiscovered dance gem. Maybe when they move into their new facilities next year, they will get more publicity.

Wellington Performing Arts Centre: 2008 Graduation Season

December 8, 2008 at 8:49 am | Posted in Recital Review, Show Review | 1 Comment
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Dec 7, 2008 by Show_Hanger

I went to an evening performance, Sunday the 7th of December, of the Wellington Performing Arts Centre‘s 2008 Commercial Dance Graduation. The programme listed a large creative team, but the web site credited Leigh Evans and Anne Anderson.

This was the graduation for the commercial dance graduates and as the title suggests the show had a Las Vegas theme. I don’t know what commercial dance constitutes, but I guessed that it wasn’t going to be ballet – or was it?

I really enjoyed the short piece – Excalibur – danced by the three male graduates. They looked more like members of Robin Hood’s band, than knights in armour. But there was no doubting their vigor and passion, nor the ballet training. They were armed with swords, rather than sabres, and the clash of swords often rang out from the stage. I was reminded that dancing and its attendent footwork was often taught to young warriers in many cultures.

I don’t get to see much tap dancing – and I found I enjoyed the flashing footwork and rhythm in all of these pieces.

I liked Venetian – a mascarade ball piece, with very dramatic costumes, executed in a balletic style.

I also liked Treasure Island – a piece about pirates done in a cross between contemporary and stage show styles. There cannot be a pirate sword left in Wellington’s toy shops! Still, the choreography was crisp and the use of long strips of silk very inventive – first as waves and later as a ship!!

The evening was a well organised and enjoyable, with 19 dances in all – with no interval! TEven though the dancers worked hard, they clearly enjoyed themselves – lots of smiles – and consequently, the audience was more relaxed and cheered and enjoyed themselves too. Initially, I found sitting so close to the action a little off putting, but I suspect that this was a good run through for the dancers, as there will be times when they are in close proximaty to their audience when they are working. My only suggestion for the producers would be to have a very short welcome and introduction at the beginning so that the first number doesn’t just burst out.

I believe that this is an annual event; hopefulliy I will be back next year.


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