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.

The Secret Lives of Dancers #4

September 29, 2010 at 12:26 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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The Company travel to Dunedin – the opening city of their Triple Bill tour.

As usual it was mainly a human interest story – who is broken up with whom, more of the threads started in episode 3. Great stuff if you are interested.

I found the way the management staff of the Company deal with injuries much more interesting.

There is a reason why there are two – maybe three casts for any piece. That way, if someone in the first cast gets injured, someone can step in – very sensible succession planning. Abigail Boyle sprained her ankle in episode #2 and it is still healing. Yet, against the advise of the Company’s physio and doctor, she will perform. The only mitigation is that she will dance in one piece of the Triple Bill -not all three!

In the rehersals at the Regent Theatre, in Dunedin, the same male principle dancer is involved in two separate ballerinas getting head and other injuries. Though there was first aid, there did not seem to be any medical follow-up to check for concussion. Nor was there an investigation to see if the incidents were preventable in future. It seems to be the accepted that people occassionally get dropped or kneed in the head!

The show this week, centred around: Abigail Boyle, Jaered Glavin, Katie Hurst-Saxton and to a lessor extent Lucy Green.

The Secret Lives of Dancers #3

September 15, 2010 at 1:41 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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Having watched episodes 1 and 2, made sure to be home to watch episode 3.

We are now into the second week of the 2010 Company year. We get: more gossip; Gary Harris giving sound bites – “thats the cast … get over it and get on with it!”; tears and joy with the cast lists; and dancers getting injured (Abigail Boyle and Pierre Doncq).

It is looking more and more like a reality TV show.

On the plus side, at least four of the dancers live in nice apartments – not the slightly grotty garrets sterotypes of old.

And it is not just about dancing – there are photo shoots for women’s magazines. Jaered Glavin is particularly pleased with his pictures! I wonder if the dancers get paid extra, or does their contract with the RNZB cover it?

Carmen – The ballet

June 10, 2010 at 1:37 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | 1 Comment
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I went to the opening night of the Royal New Zealand Ballet‘s 2010 production of Carmen, at the St James Theatre in Wellington.Warning: plot revealed.

I grew up listening to Carmen; its seemed like whenever dad had a moment he would put on a vinyl record of Bizet‘s opera. Being in a foreign language, it was years later that I found out what all of the drama and emotion was about. I watched: Carmen Jones many years ago; a DVD with Julia Migenes and Plácido Domingo singing the lead roles some years ago; and Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man a few years ago. So I was curious to see how it would all turn out.

Setting: definitely not Spain! a little bit of Havana and sports-bar blended together.

Main roles: Carmen – Abigail Boyle; Jose – Christopher Hinton-Lewis; Michaela – Katie Hurst-Saxton; and Escamillo – Jaered Glavin. Abigail Boyle was wonderful as Carmen: dangerously attractive, confident, strong, and very much her own women. Katie Hurst-Saxton in a very unflattering frock and hair-do, was every inch the homely jilted fiance.

The Ballet was in three short Acts. The First Act was a little slow, but sets the foundation for the other two Acts: Michaela, Jose (a factory guard), and Carmen (a worker in the factory) are introduced. Michaela’s devotion to Jose is obvious; equally, Jose’s is not so clear.

In the Second Act, Jose’s ordered world is turned upside down. He is led by Carmen off the straight an narrow path that he seemed destined for – corporal of the guard, destined for higher things; marriage and children. Jose has a wonderful sequence with Carmen in the bar where she gradually creates a connection with him, that sees him forsake his duty in favour of spending time with Carmen. The Second Act ends with a great love scene between Jose and Carmen, when he is hiding in the latter’s digs – having accidentally killed the Chief of Police (Paul Mathews).

In the Third Act, Jose’s world falls apart completely: he burns his bridges with the unfortunate Michaela, and finds that he has lost Carmen to Escamillo – a rock star! The end is very tradgic – as always; maybe a modern feminist ending would see a slightly different result.

The re-mix of Escamillo (looking like Billy Idol) as a rock star (a modern day toreador) is an inspired adaption by Didy Veldman. All of the traditional toredor scenes are set to an electric rock rendition of the traditional music. Jaered Glavin’s hip swinging portrayl drew many warm responses from the crowd.

All-in-all quite good: really enjoyed the second and third acts.

I went on opening night and found that Pieter Symonds was not dancing; so that was a little disappointing. What was also disappointing were the seats: the sets have a definite house-right bias, and I ended up in seats that favoured a house-left bias. Consequently, I missed some of Carmen’s entrances in the First Act, and the (clever) video clip at the beginning of the Second Act – showing Carmen’s flight and subsequent re-capture.

Oh yes; or rather no; no pointe work, and no singing or vocals.

Lady Gaga – The Ballet

May 10, 2010 at 2:28 am | Posted in Ballet Review | Leave a comment
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After I saw the newspaper article, I could not resist looking up the YouTube video of Lady Gaga – The ballet. The sound track wasn’t too great, but the dancing was very nice.

Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Jaered Glavin‘s short choreograph for six dancers to Lady Gaga’s song Bad Romance puts classical ballet steps into a new setting. The dancers execute well and it is a nice bit of fun.

The clip got enough attention that Jared was interveiwed on Campbell Live and the six dancers got to dance the piece live on national television. The TV sound track is better, and the roving camera work give you a different perspective on the piece.

I think this piece is part of the Company’s professional development programme. In the past it has produced such crowd pleasers as Koo Koo Ka Choo – by Catherine Eddy and Brendan Bradshaw; which made it onto the playbill of Tutus on Tour 2009. So I look forward to Tutus on Tour 2011, where this piece will be a little more polished – the workshop only had 12 hours to work the piece up.

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