NZSD 50th Anniversary Graduation Season

November 26, 2017 at 3:07 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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Last night I went to The New Zealand School of Dance 50th Anniversary Graduation Season at the St James Theatre.  The School decided to mark its 50th year with a special graduation season – held at the St James rather than its more modest little theatre.

The Programme began with the [Junior] Scholars doing a simple piece choreographed by Sue Nicholls (alumni); Beginners, Please  had four Scholars and two full-time students dancing a very static short piece at the barre. The Programme finished with a piece by the Royal New Zealand Ballet – In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated. The ‘normal’ graduation programme was thus bookend-ed by the students of tomorrow and the students of the past.

My high lights:

  • Tempo di Valse: this was a symphonic piece choreographed to Tchaikovsky‘s Nutcracker, Op.71. by Nadine Tyson (alumni). The 19 dancers were a mixture of second and third year dancers. It was classical and very seasonal.
  • Wedding Pas de Deux from Don Quixote: this was dance by Mayu Tanigaito and Joseph Skelton from the RNZB and staged by Patricia Barker (RNZB Artistic Director). Ms Tangigato’s  kitri was checky and playful; and her technique excellent – her 30 something fouttes got a massive round of applause, and her stability off-and-on pointe was rock solid. Joseph Skelton’s amplitude, endurance, strength, and technique also earned him some well deserved applause. I have never before seen a one handed lift – he pulled out two!! The two dancers also had some chemistry – a good thing for their wedding dance.

Works I found interesting;

  • Forgotten Things: This contemporary piece, choreographed in 2015 by Sarah Foster-Sproull (alumni), at times used the 23 dancers, dressed in black, in close packed formations, using their exposed hands and lower legs, to create animistic shapes and extensions to some of the soloists. It strikes me that the use of multiple dancers to create ‘creatures’ may be a direction worth exploring.
  • S.U.B. (Salubrious Unified Brotherhood): danced by 3rd year students Connor Masseurs and Toa Paranihi. This was choreographed by Victoria Colombus (alumni), and explored what is dance – there were times when both men just stood still, and moved individual muscle groups.
  • The Bach: choreographed by Michael Parmeter (alumni), originally in 2002, to capture and express the emotions felt after 3 years of dance study. 16 2nd and 3rd year students did a contemporary take on JS Bach’s Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen.

Works of renown:

  • Concerto Pas de Deux: a Sir Kenneth MacMillan piece.
  • Allegro Brillante: a Balanchine piece debuting in New Zealand for the first time at the Graduation Season.
  • In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated: a piece originally commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev for the young dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet, and choreographed by William Forsythe, in 1987. This piece was staged by Thierry Guiderdoni and dance by nine members of the RNZB. as it said in the Programme, it is as modern today, as when it first premiered.

So something for everyone who was fortunate to get a ticket to one of the three shows – unlike the regular 2 week graduation season.

The School had arranged a weekend of celebratory activities, and a number of alumni and RNZB alumni  were in evidence at the Saturday night show.


NZSD: Graduation Season 2014

November 23, 2014 at 9:21 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | 1 Comment
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I went to the New Zealand School of Dance‘s 2014 Graduation Season last night.

The programme was dominated by contemporary and neo-classical pieces. The third (mini-) Act was one long neo-classic series of pieces labelled: Purcell Pieces.

The first mini-Act consisted of George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco – all very tidy and precise, with some clever choreography to move dancers around each other; and The Speech (by Charlie Chaplin). The latter seemed more polished than when I saw it at – well done Jeremy Beck.

Another piece to catch my eye, was Val Caniparoli’s Double Stop – Samantha Vottari and Tynan Wood did a very good job.

Finally, exercpts from Douglas Wright’s Rapt was performed. This piece is – according to the programme, loosely base on the Lord’s Prayer in sign language. It begs the question: if it is not alright for dancers to speak or sing, why should they sign? Or, maybe this mix of dance and signing, will open up a new form of dance expression.

This year’s graduates look good.

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.

NZSD Graduation Season 2011

November 18, 2011 at 8:46 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Recital Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the second night of the New Zealand School of Dance’s 2011 Graduation Season.

The programme was varied and rich; two classical ballet pieces, from choreographers who have a big influence of the Royal New Zealand Ballet; and some cutting edge contemporary dance pieces.

There were two classical pieces: Napoli Divertissements and Emeralds. The former was choreographed by August Bournonville, the latter by George Balanchine; a rare opportunity to see exemplars of two differing classical styles – fast foot movements and a quick tempo versus something lyrical.

The third ballet piece was Company B a contemporary ballet by Paul Taylor. That used classical technique to provide an alternative perspective of the times that spawned the music of the Andrews Sisters. The dead bodies and solemn marching in the background really drove home that young men were dying behind the facade of cheer and longing. Jesse Scales and Jason Carter did a delightful pas de deux to Pennsylvania Polka. Rebekha Duncan danced a memorable saucy solo to Rum and Cola.

The three contemporary dance pieces – Whispers from Pandora’ Box, Recent Bedroom, and Sum – really pushed the boundaries: what is dance ? how much communication is possible in the performance alone (without the context of a title and commentary) ? All of the dancers put their bodies into their performance. In the last two pieces, Gareth Okan really stood out.

The programme alternated the ballet with the contemporary; starting with Bournonville and finishing with Taylor. I found it mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Another well produced production with high technical standards.

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.

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.

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.

New Zealand School of Dance: 2008 Graduation Season

December 1, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Ballet Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to this year’s graduation performance by the New Zealand School of Dance. The printed programme for the 2008 Graduation Season carried on from the 2007 – 40th anniversary – season: it is printed on glossy paper and had a very well designed cover – showing a dancer in an arresting pose.

The night’s performance consisted of:

  • Raymonda (Pas de Dix)
  • Symbiotic
  • Un Ballo
  • Flower Festival in Genzano (Pas de Deux)
  • We can Fight
  • Concerto (Pas de Deux)
  • Jabula.
Nov 22, 2008 by Show_Hanger

I went to an evening session, Saturday the 22th of November, of the New Zealand School of Dance‘s Graduation Season 2008, at the New Zealand School of Dance.

There were six pieces : three ballet pieces and three contemporary pieces, ordered to alternate.

Generally speaking it was the male dancers’ evening: they really stood out. Further the contemporary pieces really grabbed my attention. Jabula was my pick for the night.

Jabula was choreographed by Natalie Weir for the Queensland Ballet, and first performed by them in 1994. I don’t know if the original performance was from the original sound track of The Power of One, but I certainly found it powerful. The male dancers exuded energy and spirit; technique was harnessed to produce impact and this combined with the simple but effective lighting made for a very powerful finale. Florian Teatiu’s dancing just drew the eye to him.

I found We can Fight the most challenging work: the dancers spoke! I was reminded of questions regarding art that I have mulled over from time to time: should a work have a title that is made known to the audience ? What is the purpose of combining a number of disciplines ? The work struck me as a commentary on a man’s relationship with two of the main characters in his life – his dog and his wife. At times it was hard to see which he treated worse. Ultimately, one feels the dog gets a slightly better deal. Slightly depressing, due to the domestic violence.

The contemporary dance stream was well introduced by Symbiotic. Initially, the dancers cannot be seen, the stage lights are left off; they can only be heard. “Here we go”, I thought: dancing in the dark; dance as a purely pecussive work! But no, after a little while the lights came on, and the audience was treated to some sequences suggestive of organisms whose DNA was out of control.

I found the classical stream somewhat overshadowed by the contemporary works. But there were some highlights.

It was a little unfortunate that as a child of the Star Trek generation, the male dancers in Raymonda wore costumes that were very suggestive of Star Fleet uniforms. Subconciously, I expected some alien to appear and dispatch the figure in the red top. Thank goodness no alien appeared: Kyle Wood gave a wonderful demonstration of the modern male ballet dancer’s art.

Un Ballo was the ballet piece that I most enjoyed. Maybe it was the costumes – suggestive of a ballroom setting. Everyone seemed relaxed, particularly the ballerinas; and the couples just seemed to dance for the joy of it.

The evening was a well put together one. The School had obviously worked hard to make the graduation season an event: there was a photo exhibition featuring the graduating students, in the lobby; there was a small well stocked cash bar; some well appointed tables to sit at; and a well produced printed programme.


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