Swan Lake

January 10, 2017 at 2:52 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Show Review, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I went to see the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s touring production of Swan Lake, at the St James Theatre, in Wellington, last night. I took the opportunity to watch a traditional Russian staging of this iconic ballet.

The performance suffered a little bit from two things: no orchestra; and a small stage. Being a touring company, the St Peterburg Ballet tend to perform to recorded music – as was the case last night. By international standards, the St James has a small stage. While the Company must be very use to adjusting its choreography for a variety of stages, the smaller stage meant that some of the choreography looked a bit cramped; some of the larger swan formations were slightly compromised.

The lack of an orchestra meant that the ballet proceeded at a set rate. The was no conductor to adjust the pace to fit in with the audience’s clapping or the dancers’s energy.

The undoubted star of the show is Irina Kolesnikova; she is lyrical as Odette and fierce as Odile. The ballet comes to life in Act III, when she dances Odile – Rothbart’s daughter – at the ball. Dimitri Akulmin is Siegfried – the feckless prince. Akulmin’ Siefried is an adequate foil for Odile and suitor for Odette. But the duo only connected in the scene when Kolesinkova does her amazing 30+ fouettes.

Generally, the production was tidy, if a little clinical. The swan formations were most impressive: large, precise, and unified (in time and moving as one). The dance of the signets was the most staccato that I have ever seen – somehow each step was separate from the next – yet faster than I have seen before too; of course, the four dancers (Valeriya Andropova, Arisa Hashimoto, Olga Naumova, Anastasia Chaya) were wonderfully synchronised.

Two other dancers stood out: Seiyu Ogasawara and Saadi Imankulov; Ogasawara as the Jester, was an energetic, with all sorts of leaps and bounds; and Imankulov as the male member of the pas de trois in Act I, had height in his jumps, and control in his vertical 720s.

Being the Russian version, not only is there a jester – who replaces the Siegfried’s companion in western versions – but there is a happy ending! How happy? go see the ballet.

 

 

 

 

 

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Alana Haines Australasian Awards 2015

April 6, 2015 at 12:57 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Show Review | 2 Comments
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I went to the finals of the Alana Haines Australasian Awards 2015 (AHAAs) last night at the Opera House – Wellington.

The AHAAs is the largest ballet competition in Australasia, and can justly claim to be the premier competition in Australasia – more on this later.

All three levels of the Opera House was packed to witness the 22 finalists, in the three sections, ‘battle it out’ for the top placings. The knowledgeable audience – some of the top ballet teachers in Australasia, and their pupils – witnessed some exciting dancing. There were moments of thunderous applause – particularly for Harrison Lee and Wan Jin Jing. Both gave spectacular performances of Siegfried.

The night started with ‘set’ solos: Seniors followed by Juniors with their ‘set’ solos. Then the Seniors came back on with their ‘own choice’ contrasting solos.

The finalists, and their solos,  were:

  • Juniors (11 – 13):
    • Milei Lee, Peasant Pas
    • Stella Nyers, Peasant Pas
    • Mio Bayly, Kirov Peasant Pas
    • Jadyn Bagayas, Cupid
    • Tynesha Hancock, Flower Festival
    • Monet Galea-Hewitt, Peasant Pas
    • Matthew Maxwell, Flower Festival
    • Sophie Smith, Peasant Pas
    • Kieren Bofinger, Peasant Pas Boys
    • Heidi Freeman, Kirov Peasant Pas
    • Alexandra Walton, Kirov Peasant Pas
  • Seniors, 13 – 15:
    • Madison Ayton, Esmeralda, We (too) shall rest
    • Talia Fidra, Odile, Seta
    • Makensie Henson, Aurora, Here and Now
    • Bianca Scudamore, Lilac Fairy, Dream
    • Emily Bray, Aurora, To warn the world
    • Harrison Lee, Siegfried, Poem of Atoms
  • Senors, 16 – 21:
    • Isabella Howard, Aurora, Broken Dancer
    • Vida Polakov, Giselle, Imagine
    • Felipe Domingos Natel, Siegfried, Sorrow Atoms/em>
    • Wan Jia Jing, Siegfried, I Am What I Am
    • Tirion Law Lok Huen, Giselle, La Neige

A number of finalists have previously entered the AHAAs – for example: Harrison Lee, Bianca Scudamore, and Tirion Law Lok Huem were here in 2013.

The adjudicators were:

  • Lisa Pavane, Director of the Australian Ballet School and former principal with the English National Ballet
  • Richard Bowman, Ballet Master at the Jackie Kennedy Onassis School New York (NY), examiner for the ABT National Training Curriculum NY, and former principal with the Leipzig Ballet
  • Christian Tatchev, Director of training at the Queensland Ballet and former dancer with PACT Ballet Company in South Africa
  • Zenia Tatchevia, Tutor at the Queensland Ballet and former dancer with PACT Ballet Company in South Africa

This year there were over 400 entrants, and the adjudicators must have put in a marathon effort.

Congratulations to the winners:

  • Sophie Smith
  • Harrison Lee
  • Vida Polakov

All of the competitors are to be congratulated for their hard work and willingness to put themselves out there.[Apologies for any transcription errors – results available the at AHAA website.]

This biannual competition is held in memory of Alana Haines – a promising young dancer who died in a car accident on Christmas Eve in 1989. This is the 25 year of the competition and it has become the launching pad for some wonderful talent.

The AHAAs can rightly lay claim to being the premier Australasian ballet competition. Harrison lee who won the Junior section in 2013, was a winner at Prix de Lausanne Switzerland earlier this year. Vida Polakov won a gold meal at last year’s Genne, held in Belgium. Last year, Hannah O’Neill, 1st runner up in 2007, won the Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria – past winners include Mikhail Baryshnikov and Sylvie Guillem.

I enjoyed the evening and for me the highlights were Talia Fidra’s Seta, Harrison Lee’s, Siegfried and Poem of Atoms, Wan Jia Jing’s Siegfried and Tirion Law Lok Huen’s Giselle.

I hope fortune will favour many of the contestants in the years to come, and I will be able to say “I saw them at the AHAAs”.

Genee 2012

December 16, 2012 at 3:30 am | Posted in Ballet Review, Dance Review, Event Review, Exhibition Review, Show Review | 2 Comments
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I went to the final night of the Genee International Ballet Competition 2012 last night. It was a very enjoyable night. Some of the best young dancers produced by the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabus were competing for the top accolades in the RAD world. It was a truly international competition with semi-finalists from Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain, England, Scotland, South Africa, and of course New Zealand.

The semi-finals (which I did not attend) and the finals were held at the St. James Theatre in Wellington New Zealand. The competition was hosted by the New Zealand of Dance and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Each competitor – ‘candidate’ – danced: a compulsory piece choreographed especially for the competition; a piece they choreographed; and one chosen by them from a limited selection classical repertoire.

I am told it has become the tradition for the Genee to have new work created for the competition. This year, Adrian Burnett – a Kiwi – choreographed two short dances, for this competition: Exalto (for female candidates) and Homage to Bach (for male candidates). I found these to be intricate / tricky looking pieces: as if designed to offer opportunities to slip-up. The way one would design a golf course or an eventing cross country course. The grand jete, from one step, at the very end of Exalto seemed especially challenging.

The “dancer’s own” works were quite varied, though mainly neo-classical, there were some lyrical classical styled pieces. This was an opportunity for the candidates to express themselves and showcase abilities not required in the other two dances. The two eventual gold medal winners had neo-classical works.

The limited repertoire was another test of the candidates skills and ability.

Throughout, the very knowledgeable audience was wholesome in its support and applause.

Then while the jury conferred, there was a surprise (for me at least) guest performance of excerpts from Swan Lake by Abigail Boyle and Qi Huan from the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The audience was treated to a virtuoso performance. The audience had given some pretty ‘big hands’ for some of the candidates, but surely Qi Huan got an even bigger hand for his Siegfried – amazing amplitude and control; and when Abigail Boyle did all those amazing fouettes – I lost count around 29 – the applause was deafening!

Then it was time for the jury to announce the medals. the jury was headed up by David McAllister, Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet; Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director of the Scottish Ballet; and Li Cunxin, Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet.

Congratulations to: Gold Medal: Aurelian Child-de-Brocas (male), Montana Rubin (female) Silver Medal: Harry Davis (male), Kaena Ahern (female), Ariana Hond (female). And to the other finalists: Anyah Siddall, Sana Sasaki, Georgina Hills, Olivia James-Baird, Isobelle Dashwood, Emma McBeth, and Kelsey Stokes.

A nice touch was that the semi-finalists were listed in the programme and also took in the medal presentations.

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