Giselle (RNZB 2016)

August 15, 2016 at 8:25 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | Leave a comment
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The Royal New Zealand Ballet has re-staged it’s Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel choreographed 2012 production of Giselle.

There have been some tweaks – there is now a clever front projection to create the extensive roots of a tree that appear to move.

Lucy Green dances the part of Giselle. Her solo during the wedding was technically strong – all the pointe work was precise and steady; yet she conveyed the image of a young girl in love. She continued this mix of technique and artistry in the second Act – to save an unworthy Albrecht. 

Qi Huan, as Albrecht, reprising his role from 2012. Once again his leaps and jumps were breath taking high; his turns fast and precise. The struggle to dance all night was well conveyed. He got a well deserved big round of applause after an astonishing number of back to back entrechats.

Clytie Campbell was as Myrtha – the Queen of the Willis.

Ben Chown gave a good characterisation of the gamekeeper; he was the ‘country’ to the Prince’s polished. This was to foreshadow the final outcome when they were caught out in the woods after dark in the second Act.

A must see.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (RNZB, 2015)

September 5, 2015 at 12:45 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review | Leave a comment
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I saw Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of this the other night at the Aotea Centre – ASB Theatre in Auckland.

This was a brand new production for the Company – choreographed by Liam Scarlett, stage design by Tracy Grant Lord, lighting by Kendall Smith, and music by Nigel Gaynor (after Mendelssohn).

Titania was danced by Lucy Green; Oberon by Shane Urton; Puck by Shaun James Kelly; Botton by Paul Matthews. Green and Urton were nicely paired, and their final pas de deux, when they are reconciled, very touching, very lyrical, with some innovative lifts. Matthews was comical; and played the part to perfection. In some ways, Matthews and Kelly had the more difficult roles, demanding more acting than in most other ballets. Matthews was assisted by a donkey head. Kelly was by parts athletic and mischievous.

I much preferred Act II over the first Act. I found Act I a bit slow, this was understandable, given that it had to set up quite a complex set of mis-understandings and mis-pairings.Puck tries hard, but it is hard to get good help! I would have like to see more of the fairies. Partly because their customs were so good; and mainly because Titania-and-Oberon are Queen-and-King of the fairies, so we should see more of the fairies.

The venue itself was a grand example of a modern theatre – the minimalist lines of wooden interior is very grand.

Tutus on Tour (2013)

October 26, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the Friday performance of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2013 season of Tutus on Tour at the St James Theatre (in Wellington).

The show opened with Flower Festival at Genzano – ably danced by Lucy Green and Jacob Chown. The choreography by August Bournoville exhibits the classic footwork and fast leg movements of the Danish school. Opening with this piece is an excellent way for the company to re-introduce itself to an audience it might only perform for every 2-4 years.

Through to you, choreographed by Andrew Simmons, danced by Antonia Hewitt and Qi Huan, also caught my attention. There seemed to be a nice connection between Hewitt and Huan – with Huan showing a lyrical side of himself.

The First Act finished with a pas de deux from Don Quiote danced by Clytie Campbell and Brendan Bradshaw. This showcased some trademark Marius Petipa choreography: I’m afraid I succumbed and tried to counted the number of fouettes – 16 (?).

The Second Act was a wonderful adaptation of Peter and the Wolf. Persona dramaticus:

  • Peter – Rory-Fairweather-Neylan
  • Sister/Bird – Tonia Looker
  • Father/wolf – Qi Huan
  • Duck – Yang Liu
  • Cat – Clytie Campbell
  • Grandmother – Alayna Ng

The action all takes place in Peter’s bedroom. Tania Looker is fantastic bird; Clytie Campbell is a cat through-and-through; Yang Liu is was a great  duck – I thought her bill would have been better placed on her forehead, rather than her nose :-). All three looked wonderful en pointe. Being in Wellington, the Wellington Orchestra provided an excellent live music element.

The narration was done by Te Radar; I wonder who narrates for the other half of the company?

The 2013 season of Tutus on Tour has something for everyone, and Act II is for the child in everyone.

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.

Tutus on Tour 2011

March 6, 2011 at 8:21 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I went to the last Wellington performance of this last week, at the Opera House. I was seated up in the ‘Gods’. The view was quite good; though, you did loose a little perspective on the jumps and leaps.

This year’s Tutus on Tour performance consisted of two pieces: Verdi Variations and Pinochio. The former sparkling white tutus – for the Ballerinas – and sparkling white jackets – for the male dancers. Pinochio was a character morality piece aimed at the young at heart.

Verdi Variations was classical ballet – the ballerinas were en pointe and the men leapt and turned. Lucy Green tossed in some fouettes (including a double); Yang Liu was graceful – she would later dance the part of the Blue Fairy in Pinochio; and Maree White impressed me with turns that I had never seen before – they looked like a fouette, but with very little whip of the non-supporting leg. There was a lovely short segment in which the five couples demonstrated a classic danish style of partner dancing – fast, the couple almost at the run, with the women executing split leaps in rapid succession, with their arms in the air, while the man supporting/holding his partner when they were at the apex of their leap.

Verdi Variations was not too serious – there was a frosty pas de trois where each ballerina competed for the limelight, and dancers male and female sought time on stage by themselves. As the name suggests this piece is set to music by Verdi.

Pinochio is of course about the boy made from wood. It has lots of moral messages: work hard; study hard; money doesn’t grow on trees; beware of strangers who promise great returns on investment. Yang Liu as the Blue Fairy and Lucy Green as the Cat both stood out.

The Secret Lives of Dancers #5

October 31, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Posted in TV Review | Leave a comment
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The Company complete their Triple Bill tour.

As usual it was mainly a human interest story – who is broken up with whom, and how are the dancers coping with injuries – continuing on from episode 4. Oh there was some rugby.

While the Company was in Christchurch, they did a promo for their sponsor – who also sponsor the Canterbury Provincial Rugby Team. So, a very exited Lucy Balfour got to spend time with Dan Carter; and Brad Thorne got to use a ballerina for weight training.

We also find out that Lucy Green and Yang Liu were give full contracts for the year. This is great news, especially, when the documentary producers tried to generate some suspense by showing her being told-off for being out of time with the music.

I discovered that there is an equivalent programme on the Australian Ballet; I wonder if it will show here, and what mix of dance and gossip it will have.

PS: Ethan Stiefel has been appointed as the new artistic directory for the Company!

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 #1 & #2

September 10, 2010 at 1:49 am | Posted in TV Review | 1 Comment
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Having watched episode one of this last week, I managed to catch episode two this week. The half-hour-long episodes take you for behind the scenes look at the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Episode one was centred on the annual open auditions, and Gary Harris -the Artistic Director, who has the final say on who is in, and who is out. There are the usual interviews with the candidates before and after the day-long audition. The format is pretty standard for a behind the scene look at any enterprise that holds selections for a limited number of places – the candidates could have been models or circus artists or rugby players.

What I really wanted to know was how the candidates heard about the audition.

It is a bit brutal; as they say: Many are called, but few a chosen. Gary is quite blunt with his on air assessments of dancers – I hope the candidates signed waivers! This year ‘The Company’ accepts two: Lucy Green and Yang Liu. Lucy is from Australia and Yang is from China. It is pretty obvious that these two will be selected: Lucy is shown doing some killer fouetttes and Yang is shown doing some lovely leaps, while Gary can be heard say “what lovely lines”. Also, we are told that, Yang was hand picked by the chinese ballet system at an early age, trained at the Beijing ballet, and danced is a member of the National Ballet of China. I also could not resist looking up the company in the Carmen programme on my shelf!

Episode two is centred on the first day back from holidays – established Company members return and the new members turn up with some trepidation.

Greg Horsman, the ballet master, takes class and, he claims, works them real hard. Which I found a concern, if it was true. He and company management expect the dancers to be ready to work; yet they know that the members of the company have been resting and that the only way to be ready to train at the level he claims to be putting them through is if they did not have a rest (for their bodies to recover from last year), but found somewhere to train (hard) in the off-season! Professional sports teams would not do this – maybe professional sportman are harder to come by than professional ballet dancers!

Then it was some interviews with members of the company – Abigail Boyle and Lucy Balfour seem to get the most air time. There is some nice gossip.

We also reconnect with Lucy Green and Yang Liu; both of whom have relocated to Wellington. For Lucy it is her first time away from home (Melbourne). Yang, has come accompanied by her fiance – good man!

There is lots of human interest – direct interviews, gossip and filming of people walking around.

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