Swan Lake (RNZB: 2013)

July 27, 2013 at 7:23 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | Leave a comment
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Last weekend I went to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2013 production of Swan Lake. Warning: plot revealed.

Main cast:

  • Odette/Odile: Gillian Murphy
  • Siefried: Karel Cruz
  • Jester: Rory Fairweather-Neylan
  • Rothbart: Paul Mathews

Rory Fairweather-Neylan almost steals the show. I have always liked version(s) that include the Jester. The role is technically demanding and artistically demanding – he does well. The <Jester’s choreography acts as an overture for Siefried’s choreography.

Karel Cruz is very eye catching – he must be one of the tallest ‘leading men’ in the ballet world. His superb technique and height give him considerable stage presence; at times, the St James stage seems too small. The elevation he achieves with his jumps; the control in his pirouettes; and the strength in his lifts are just amazing.

Ms Murphy is wonderful. Her fouettes like the rest of her technical repertoire were complete. I made a conscious effort not to count them in Act III, choosing instead to focus on the wonderful artistry and mime.

Siefried and Odette (Cruz and Murphy) achieve a lyrical romantic partnering in Act II. The lyrical pas de deux creates such a sense that they are destined to be together, that the relatively energetic dance of the cygnets (ably dance by Katherine Grange, Adrianna Harper, Bronte Kelly, and Tonia Looker) seems a little out of place.

This version gave Rothbart a much expanded role, compared to other versions. Rothbart does much more than merely produce Odile (disguised as Odette) at the ball. Paul Mathews must manipulate the swans – particularly Odette through his black magic; and has a major showdown with Siefried in Act IV.

I like the happy ending: the lovers don’t die – they are together ! There is also a very touching moment when the swans are freed from their enthrallment.

The structure of the ballet is very clever, and one piece of choreography leads to the next. One example of this is the use of the Jester to provide an introduction to Siefried’s choreography – the Jester’s choreography is a comic version of the latter. Another example, is the use of big swans to bridge the visual gap between the cygnets and the traditionally small swans at the front of the bevy, and the larger and grander Odette, who is effectively their queen. Abigail Boyle and Antonia Hewitt nicely portray two ‘senior’ swans.

Sir Jon Trimmer, once again played the part of WolfGang the Prince’s tutor. He danced this role 17 years ago.

The music is provided by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. The costumes were bright, intricate and detailed; very fitting a production that marks the Company’s 60th Anniversary. There appeared to be many past members in the audience that night.

A must see.


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.

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