Scope – NZSD Choreographic Season 2016

May 22, 2016 at 5:03 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I went to Scope last night at The New Zealand School of Dance to see original works choreographed by the third year contemporary majors.

In a new direction from previous years, all of the works were staged ‘in the round’, and were danced, essentially, in one costume. The traditional presidium arch was cast off and there were 4 banks of seating – one in the corner of a not quite square rectangle. The dancers came and went from the four sides. It felt intimate and yet spacious (when the lights were up).

The first and second works had the dancers wearing a white base layer; then at the beginning of the third piece – Obelus – the whole cast lined up and their clothes were dropped to them from the catwalks amongst the lights. The first thud of a neatly folded package of clothes caught the audience by surprise. Somehow each dancer knew which package – a light grey sleeveless shirt and grey light pantaloons – was theirs and they left the line to retrieve and put on their garments.

So Scope:

  • Tropics – by Tristan Carter
  • []3 – a square to the power of 3 – by Christopher Mills
  • Obelus – by Jag Popham
  • The Private Sphere – by Isaac Di Natale
  • Atlas of Intangible – by Breanna Timms
  • Come Along and Feel the Kairos – by Samuel Hall
  • Blight – by Tiana Lung
  • Shaving a Cactus – by Holly Newsome
  • XXX <cr> XXX – by Jessica Newman
  • Temenos – by Isabel Estrella

Even though there were 10 works, the whole show had a coherence to it. There was also some innovative use of boxes and ribbons. There is also an element of the observer as part of the art work: if you sit in any of the 4 front-rows be prepared to be ‘invited up, to part of the dance !

Worth seeing.

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Try This

June 27, 2012 at 7:14 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to see Try This at Bats the other night.

What I got was four dancers and a series of connected pieces based on the senses.

Fleur Cameron has created an series of short pieces that play with and try to show the five senses as movement.

Everyone in the audience got given an apple and could have munched it when the dancers – Fleur Cameron, Isabelle Nelson, Felicity Hamill, and Frankie Sampson – took it in turn to (try to) eat an apple. Nice tilt to the old adage – you can’t tell a book by its cover.

I was quite struck by the smell and touch pieces too.

Bats made for an nice intimate venue to debut this contemporary dance work.

The Pharaoh’s Daughter

January 26, 2012 at 9:17 am | Posted in Ballet Review, DVD Review | Leave a comment
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I found this DVD in my regular library, and saw that it was a ballet by Pierre Lacotte d’apres Marius Petipa. "Petipa?" I thought, "that's not I know", so I got out.

It turns out to be a 'lost' work, carefully reconstructed by Pierre Lacotte, and danced by the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004.

Svetlana Zakharova is the Princess Aspicia – the Pharaoh’s daughter. Serguei Filin is Taor, Aspicia’s eventual husband. Maria Aleksandrova is Ramze – Aspicia’s slave.

The ballet revolves around these three characters. Aspicia loves Taor, but must marry the King of Nubia to seal a treaty. So Aspicia and Toar run away. They are eventually caught, but Aspicia’s love eventually convinces the Pharaoh to let her marry Taor.

Zakharova, Filin, and Aleksandrova and the soloist are great. The corp are also very good – never have a I seen an entire corp execute grand jetes to the same high standard and in time to each other and to the music.

It is an excellent ballet, it is an early work of Petipa’s and the roots of his later works can be seen. Though it is hard to tell if Lacotte has been influenced by the later better known (and better preserved) works. The extra material on the DVD contains an interview with Lacotte, describing him tracking down dancers taught by dancers who had worked with Petipa (or taught by those who had); Lacotte also located collections of notes and manuscripts from people whose family members were involved with Petipa’s circle.

The story is straight forward and easy to follow, and the dancing superb.

Red Doors

July 11, 2011 at 7:24 am | Posted in DVD Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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Found this film at the library and watched it at home.

It was quite good. A film about Chinese Americans that concentrated on the American part. The film centres around the everyday goings on of three sisters: Sam (Jacqueline Kim); Julie ‘Jools’ (Elaine Kao); and Katie ( Kathy Shao-lin Lee). Sam is about to marry someone who wants she probably shouldn’t. Julie can’t find a boy friend; and Katie who doesn’t know how to talk to the boy next door.

By the end of the film: Sam will have given herself a chance for self-happiness; Julie discovers someone she really hits it off with (much to her mother’s surprise); and Katie tries communicating with words, rather than with dangerous practical jokes. Their father runs away to a monastery to find some time to think.

If anything the film is about New Yorkers – the film won Best New York film at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The film has a small immigrant Chinese element to it – the family look and are Chinese (well at least to the extent that you can be Chinese in America) and they eat with chopsticks and speak mandarin at dinner (well at least at the beginning), but otherwise the story would work for a Greek American family. the film does not labour the point. The father going to a monastery is a very American story!

The film has an immigrant element: Sam was good enough to go to Juilliard (to train as a ballerina); but her parents advised her not to go – not a secure financial career path. Echo’s of Georgia Lee’s (writer and director) own path – she dropped out of business school to make films; we she choose to resist the immigrant desire to be ‘safe’.

A good film – particularly if you come from an immigrant background! or not !!

Sketch: NZ School of dance Choreographic Season 2011

May 19, 2011 at 11:23 am | Posted in Dance Review | Leave a comment
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Just got back from the Reviewer’s Evening of Sketch – the New Zealand School of Dance‘s 2011Choreographic Season – showcasing the choreographic of their senior contemporary dance students. I found it very entertaining; clearly everyone had put in lots of hard work; and good on the choreographers for putting their work on display.

Once again the School managed to surprise me with the way they transformed the foyer. Tonight they had a cellist playing in the Plaza, and visual artwork: a very short silent dance film entitled Aura projected on four large white panels. The film by Emma Cullinan and Holly Macpherson.

The works were:

  • Ignite by Alice Macann
  • Yin for Yang by Kimiora Grey
  • Duck Duck Goose by Fleur Cameron
  • Newton’s Cradle of Flesh by Yan Hao Du and Levi Cameron
  • Fifteen Minutes Left by Carl Tolentino
  • Anoesis by Isabelle Nelson
  • Left Unsaid by Rebecca Bassett-Graham
  • Variations on a Team by Zoe Dunwoodie
  • Shredded Strands by Jonathan Selvadurai
  • Shepherd by Thomas Bradley

Lighting was very effectively used to create mood and support all of the dances.

I found the pas de deux by Katie Baring-Gould and Jonathan Selvadurai in Kimiora Grey’s Yin and Yang quite original and touching. It looks like Grey set out to have the dancers dance while lying down. It was lyrical and touching – not only were the dancers lying down as they flowed over and past each other, but they were seldom out of physical contact with each other.

Fifteen Minutes Left, like a number of works during the evening, required the dancers to do some acting. It was fun and funny. Once again lighting was cleverly used – at times the dancers were contained by rectangles of light projected onto the floor. Most of the time they were constrained by very small T-shirts!

Left Unsaid started a bit slowly, but my hat goes off to Samantha Hines for putting so much of herself emotionally into her performance.

Part way through Variations on a Team, I though “this must have been choreographed by a woman;” and afterwards I found it listed against Zoe Dunwoodie in the programme. This work uses only male dancers who ‘strutted around’ in a number of very stereotypical male ways. It certainly struck a cord with the female members of the audience.

The dancers had superb physiques – perhaps a sign of the hard work they have put in during the course of their training.

If you can get tickets go – at $20 for an adult, it is tremendous value – 10 well danced original works. (and I am not just saying that … see below)

Declaration: I did say “Reviewer’s Evening” at the beginning of this post; the School gave me complementary tickets – it made my week when they offered them to me.

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.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

September 29, 2010 at 8:39 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I never saw the prequel, but I though it might be interesting.

It certainly explains the causes of and the current global financial recession very well, and for this alone, it is worth seeing the film.

Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas, is the inside trader from yesteryear, released from federal prison, in upstate New York. You are never sure if he is reformed or just trying to get back into the game. We find out at the end.

There is host of shady dealers and bankers.

Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan play the main characters. They are engaged; Winnie (Mulligan) is Gecko’s estranged daughter; and Jake (Labeouf) is her fiance. Jake is an investment banker. Winnie runs a not-for-profit news web site, and has a million dollar trust fund that her dad wants (back).

The move takes place at the tail end of the recession. Jake’s bank collapses, and as he tries to stay afloat and strike back at the bank that took down his, we see him discover his powers and the way the world really is. Winnie leave him.

In some respects this is a master-and-the-apprentice movie. Though at times it is not clear who is the master: Gordon or clearly sleazy Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin).

The end is a little unsatisfactory – Gecko reforms, and he gets back with Winnie, and she gets back with Jake.

The Expendables

September 29, 2010 at 8:11 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I saw the trailer I decided that this was a ‘must see’.

The ‘Expendables’ are a small team of mercenaries played by a dream team of action actors: Slyvester Stalone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger! In the end it was hard to give each ‘star’ enough time in only 113 minutes !!!!

Giselle Itié provides a hint of romance, plays the good icon. She offers up some good contrast to Eric Roberts – who plays the bad icon, and to David Zayas – who plays the paper-tiger icon.

The film is a series of very well choreographed fight scenes. These are interspersed with some character scenes where the guys show off their tender sides – Lundgren like you have never seen him! The best is the brief by-play between Stalone and Schwarzenegger.

In the end good triumphs over evil, or in this case the CIA – or is it a rogue CIA element.

I expected a little too much – the Seven Samuri are hard act to follow. But it is very watchable, particularly if you like any of the dream team. Warning: Willis and Schwarzenegger don’t have much air face time.

Inception

September 6, 2010 at 1:23 am | Posted in Film Review | 1 Comment
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Spoiler: Plot details revealed !

I went to see Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the other day – I had a spare two hours.

The film is well made, with a complex plot. DiCaprio’s character litterally gets into people’s minds to steal secrets – as they dream. In the film, DiCaprio is hired to plant an idea – something that is suppose to be impossible. To do this DiCaprio and his team of dreamers will have to go deep into the target’s – Joseph Gordon-Levitt – mind.

The film is set in the target’s mind, inside a dream, inside a dream, inside a dream, … . It is all very complex. An additional complication is that the dreamers need to have physical control of the target’s body, to hook up instruments and inject a series of drugs.

Unfortunately, the end is telegraphed to the audience well before the end – does DiCaprio really get out of the target’s mind? or his own for that matter.

Oh the special effects – computer graphics – are very good.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

August 18, 2009 at 1:04 am | Posted in Play Review | Leave a comment
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August 15, 2009 by Show_Hanger

The other night I went to Toi Whakaari‘s – New Zealand Drama School – production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Previous productions that I have seen did not really hold my attention, but I was intrigued by the billing around “circus and burlesque”. so off I went.

There was an air of expectiaon in the lobby, and when we were allowed in the theatre space, there was more promise – circular seating: theatre in the round with just a hint of a circus tent.

The plot is quite convoluted: Hermia has two suitors – Lysander and Demetrius; Helena her friend has none – Demetrius having transfered his affection to Hermia; Lysander and Hermia run away, because Egeus (Hermia’s brother) favours Demetrius; in the woods Lysander and Demetrius are bewitched into loving Helena; and by the time it is all sorted out out Lysander is back with Hermia and Demetrius is back with Helena; oh, someone else is turned into a donkey; and there is a play within a play.

The directing team – Josette Bushell-Mingo and her assistant Julian Pellizzaro – are to be thoroughly congratulated. The circus and burlesque techniques fit perfectly into the story; they are not a clever contrivance that stands out. Of course fairies waft through the air on tissu. Of course mischeivous sprites are nasty clowns. Burlesque makes the lovers and attractions a little earthy, but its what happens in the darkly enchanted forrest at night! Bottom and Titanias’ attraction to each other is a physical attraction – it is not the plutonic attraction more often seen in BBC-type productions – the burlesque approach removes all doubt as to what they are really getting up to.

Deborah Pope is to congratulated for teaching the drama students circus skills and polishing them to a performance standard, and not doubt working the circus into the wider play. The drama students are to be congratulated for mastering circus techniques and employing these in the play. Particularly: the tissu performers; Moana Ete’s suspened hoop work, as Titania; Jonathan Kenyon’s juggling as Lysander; and Tola Newbery’s stilt walking and bullwhip work, as Oberon.

I was so engaged that I took in the final play-within-a-play segment, which seemed like of a teaser for Romeo and Juliet. The casting of Tom Snout, the wall, played by Esmee Myers, as a mime artist was brilliant; as was the casting of Francis Flute, Thisbe, played by Sam Wang, as a kabuki player.

Three characters really stood out: Helena (played by Chelsea Bognuda), (Nick) Bottom (played by James Tito) and Puck (played by Micheal Leota). I found Puck a little too tragic; I prefer my Pucks more on the micheivous side. Bottom was just perfect. And Helena was how I imagined she would be.

Definitely worth going to; the theatre in the round combined with the earthy circus/burlesque approach, made for a ‘as Shakespeare probably staged it’ feel. I felt like I should have thrown money at the end!!

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