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August 18, 2014

Alarm für Cobra 11 films at the Nürburgring with Mercedes-Benz

Jack Yan/6.49

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Long-running German TV series, Alarm für Cobra 11: die Autobahnpolizei, which will return this autumn (most likely in early October), filmed at the Nürburgring over the weekend during the DTM races.
   Both star Erdoğan Atalay, who has played Semir Gerkhan since the show’s third episode in 1996, and new co-star Vinzenz Kiefer, in the role of Alex Brandt since 2014, found themselves at the historic circuit among the 80,000 spectators.
   They were joined by actress and presenter Fernanda Brandão, who will guest-star in the episode. Ralf Schumacher is also tipped to appear.
   They conducted a draw for fans of the show, giving away extras’ roles.
   Although the new season returns in the autumn on RTL, the Nürburgring episode, ‘Das letzte Rennen’ (‘The Last Race’) will not air till spring 2015. The plot line is predictable: Semir and Alex receive guest passes to a DTM race but unexpectedly find a corpse.
   The cop show features product placement from both BMW and Mercedes-Benz, and has done since one of its earliest stars, Mark Keller, drove a CLK in 1997.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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August 15, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro journeys from classical to science fiction

Jack Yan/15.57

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Ross Brown

Top A classical approach for Allegro Brillante. Above Larry Keigwin’s Megalopolis.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro: Five Short Ballets, was a bittersweet performance, knowing it would be the last time many in the audience would see the company’s principal guest artist, Gillian Murphy, dance.
   Murphy and her fiancé, RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel, are set to return to the US, and she kept a composed, dignified air after the performance when Lucire wished her well for her future.
   The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Andrea Tandy noted that Auckland audiences, who had seen Allegro prior to Wellington’s for a change, gave the five productions a wonderful reception.
   In the first ballet of the five, Allegro Brillante, Murphy and Kohei Iwamoto led a small cast of 10 to Tchaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto, with choreography by the late George Balanchine. Russian-born Balanchine’s works have been staged by the RNZB from time to time, and Allegro Brillante was performed in 1999 and 2001. With a classical structure and technique, staged by Eve Lawson, it proved an endearing opening to the performances on the first night in Wellington.
   As skilful as the dancers were, Qi Huan’s presence was missed opposite Murphy—Huan moved on to the New Zealand School of Dance, teaching classical ballet, telling us earlier that he could not pass up the opportunity.
   The simple settings allowed Nigel Percy’s lighting to set a very different mood each time.
   Les Lutins, which followed, was a particularly enjoyable comedic ballet. It would be the only one with live music of the five, performed by the impressive Benjamin Baker on violin, and Michael Pansters on piano, while Rory Fairweather-Neylan, Arata Miyagawa and Lucy Green played the role of the goblins, in trousers and braces, with simple, carefree choreography by Johan Kobborg. The interaction between the dancers and Baker was cleverly staged, and the neatly executed jetés and tours en l’air from Fairweather-Neylan and Miyagawa deserve mention.
   Satellites, after the first interval, brought a scientific theme, conveying the equilibrium that satellites maintain in orbit: as dancers go off, new ones emerge. Graphically, orbits appear in the background, designed and animated by Jac Grenfell, dancers held circular mirrors, while electronic music by Jan-Bas Bollen emphasized the high-tech feel. Kinetic sculptures by Jim Murphy continued the theme (segmented planets hanging in the air), as did Donnine Harrison’s costumes (the discs worn by two ballerinas again reflecting the circular theme). Daniel Belton, who was behind the concept and choreography, was inspired by the Bauhaus movement, with its practitioners Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee and Moholy-Nagy, successfully blending the geometry and modernistic approach of the school with balletic expression. For once, those who are disciples of, or simply aware of, Bauhaus principles have a ballet that translates those ideas.
   Mattress Suite, choreographed by Larry Keigwin for his own company, delighted in a simple, playful setting, with a mattress as the one prop, telling the story of newlyweds who drift apart, the groom discovering he is homosexual. It is the only one with mature themes and popular songs (‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ as sung by Stevie Wonder, and ‘At Last’ by Etta James) and the mattress itself was used as everything from a wall to a trampoline in six short dances. Cheekily, the dance with a gay threesome is called ‘Straight Duet’.
   The RNZB is the first to perform Mattress Suite outside of Keigwin & Company.
   It was Keigwin again for the finalé, Megalopolis, which went beyond science and into science fiction, blending the cinematic Flash Gordon and Studio 54 into a single ballet, finding great favour with the audience. Megalopolis was certainly energetic—RNZB finalés often are, and rightly so, when presenting a series of ballets—while Fritz Mason’s costume design, in black with silver details, was a retrofuturistic delight.
   Allegro: Five Short Ballets continues in Wellington till the 17th at the St James. Invercargill follows on August 20 at the Civic, while Dunedin’s Regent Theatre plays host on the 23rd inst.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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August 14, 2014

Mana Wahine: a powerful celebration of womanhood and history

Jack Yan/4.40

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Alex Efimoff

Mana Wahine, which had its première in June in Rotorua for Matariki, arrived in Wellington last night with the first of a brief series of performances (until August 16), with a powerful celebration of womanhood by the Okareka Dance Company.
   Mana Wahine tells the story of Te Aokapurangi, who was captured in battle but returned later to save her people from slaughter.
   The production began with the image of the storyteller, Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, a descendant of Te Aokapurangi, appearing on the curtains prior to the show, a foretaste of the clever use of lighting and imagery projected on the dance floor and walls. Her evocative waerea incantation from the first scene led to powerful, purposeful choreography performed by five dancers, Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo.
   Graceful and strong, the quintet were chosen for their experience as women and those from whom they have descended.
   Mana Wahine blends different genres of dance, captivating the audience between its sets so seamlessly, and is a beautiful tribute to Te Aokapurangi while shining a light on the proud people in our country’s past.
   Even without knowing the historical aspect one has to admire the authentic and sincere performances of the five dancers.
   The production was inspired by a conversation between cousins Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield and Okarewa artistic director Taiaroa Royal, on their ancestry and the Ngāti Ohomairangi of Te Arawa, namely the matriarch Kearoa and Te Aokapurangi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Tapuika. Both women were responsible for saving their people, demonstrating in New Zealand’s history the power and role of women.
   Ranapiri-Ransfield researched the story, and wrote the lyrics and composed the music for the karanga, waerea and patere, and it is her voice that the audience hears. Victoria Kelly composed the rest of the score. Malia Johnston, with her extensive choreographic experience, co-authored Mana Wahine. Taane Mete directed Mana Wahine, calling it one of the ‘most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered.’ The collaboration between the talents, including technical production manager Jonny Cross, producer Rachael Penman, rehearsal director Natalie Clark and administrator Jesse Wikiriwhi, have resulted in a real, enriching production.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Mana Wahine runs till August 16, with daily performances at 7.30 p.m., and one matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Te Whaea, New Zealand National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington. Tickets are $20–$40, plus booking fees. Bookings can be made by telephone on 0800 BUY-TIX or visit www.eventfinder.co.nz.

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August 11, 2014

Rihanna on the cover of W September 2014, with unmissable Meadowlark Jewellery

Lucire staff/2.03

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Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott

Rihanna is on the September 2014 cover of W, photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, styled by Edward Enniful, the magazine’s fashion and style director.
   There’s a New Zealand connection, with the pop star wearing Meadowlark Jewellery’s large Thorn Septum ring, from its upcoming spring–summer 2014–15 collection, Dynasty, on the cover. The singer wears the ring on her nose on the cover.
   Two versions of the ring, one with diamonds and one without, feature in the editorial inside.
   Meadowlark says it gifted Rihanna the diamond-set septum ring on the day of the shoot, and she had been spotted wearing it.
   She also wears a Donna Karan New York dress, an Ashley Lloyd headdress, Amrapali ruby and diamond ear cuffs, and a Stephen Dweck sterling silver necklace. The shoot took place in July.
   Rihanna is currently on her Monster’s Ball tour with rapper Eminem.

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August 6, 2014

Retrospectives: great moments in Parisian fashion history, with YSL, McQueen, Galliano, Gaultier

Lucire staff/14.05

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What are some of the great fashion moments in recent history? You’ll have seen these videos run on Lucire TV, and we’ve singled them out for an additional focus. In French and English.

1. The departure of Yves Saint Laurent
In January 2001, Yves Saint Laurent retired from the house that bears his name, with the brand’s final haute couture show and retrospective at the Hotel Inter-continental in Paris. Two thousand people were invited to the Centre Pompidou to see Saint Laurent’s 300 greatest classics, and models included Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, Jerry Hall, and Naomi Campbell. In the finalé, 40 tuxedos paraded to a song performed by Laetitia Casta. Catherine Deneuve, a long-time friend of the designer, was in tears. Saint Laurent died in 2008.
   Saint Laurent says, ‘I tried to prove that Paris was still the city of light and of haute couture, and haute couture made like this was necessary for people’s imaginations. I like seeing my models evolve and seeing how the public react and actually in that moment I feel really close to the public. I still get nervous in this profession. I’m still not used to it after 42 years. I’ve tried again to perfect this style that has now become really important in fashion, this style that I created and to which I remain loyal, as fashions pass but style stays. It’s a part of me, it’s my life. I wouldn’t know what to do; I wouldn’t be able to live if I didn’t make dresses.’

2. The shows of Alexander McQueen
Lee Alexander McQueen was known for his extravagant shows, and had come to most people’s attention after he succeeded John Galliano at Givenchy in 1996. He was later hired by the Gucci Group, joining the group in 2000. Gucci had bought a controlling stake in McQueen’s own label. An extraordinary creator, McQueen was depressed after the death of his mother, and committed suicide in 2010. The video looks at some of his greatest hits.
   Said McQueen: ‘After I left college I went to Paris to look for work, like every student does, and I went to see Martin but he couldn’t afford to pay me, and then I went to Gaultier and then there was some nasty queen on the front door to Gaultier. And I thought f*** this. I was supposed to be there for five days I was back in five hours, because there was no one else I wanted to work for apart from Margiela and Gaultier …
   ‘I call myself very schizophrenic; I have so many different, you know, personalities.’
   Katy England notes in the video below, ‘He’s just got a very clever mind, and he doesn’t follow fashion, he’s not that interested in the trends. He just suddenly thinks of something that’s really really imaginative, he might be inspired by art or … he just has a very strange vision of things which suddenly comes to life. He’ll explain an image and you’ll think wow, that’s very very strong, and that will then in turn inspire a collection. I’ve never met someone else who thinks of these things, it’s just exciting really.’

3. John Galliano at Christian Dior, haute couture spring–summer 2002
One of John Galliano’s most controversial haute couture collections was for spring–summer 2002, where he showed one inspired by the homeless, paying tribute to the ‘ingenuity shown by the underprivileged in the way they dress,’ with unstitched dresses, jacket arms held on by pegs, the layering of trousers and torn effects. Galliano said, ‘There’s the new cut but it’s also to show the work, the delicacy of the Dior atelier’s work, and also to show that this house is a laboratory of ideas where you can thrive off the rest of the house, the ready-to-wear fashion, the collection and the accessories … that’s why I’m there, to inspire the house. I cut it up a bit, a little bit crazily and expressively … They took the dress upstairs and they made the whole patronage and everything and they came back down with the same expressive cutting which blew me away, me and Stephen [Jones] couldn’t tell the difference.’

4. Madonna models for Jean Paul Gaultier
Madonna, who had been friends with Jean Paul Gaultier since 1989 when he made the costumes for her Blonde Ambition tour, went to Paris in September 1994 to model the designer’s spring–summer 1995 collection. The show was memorable for both Madonna and Gaultier, for a body corset with a conical bra.
   Looking back, Gaultier says, ‘That exact date in 1989. I knew her from that, professionally because I made the costumes for the Blonde Ambition tour, so that was really fun, it was one of my most beautiful experiences I have to say. An then obviously she modelled for me. First, she modelled in a charity show in LA in support of Aids, and the second time she modelled, you recorded her, at the Musée des Arts Forains, that must have been around ’96. There you go!
   Marie-Christiane Marek summarizes the influence: ‘Madonna produced a visual shock, leaving a mark on her era and captivating a fascinated public from the end of the ’80s. She presented corseted silhouettes with conical bras, or more Jean Paul Gaultier men’s suits. Madonna, therefore, embodied the Parisian designer’s success, heralding a new feminine era with a stamp of sex appeal.’

Le départ d’Yves Saint Laurent (version française)

The departure of Yves Saint Laurent (English dub)

The shows of Alexander McQueen

John Galliano at Christian Dior, haute couture spring–summer 2002

Madonna défile chez Jean-Paul Gaultier (version française)

Madonna models for Jean Paul Gaultier (English dub)

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August 5, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists fulfil their diplomatic mission

Lucire staff/5.51

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Alan Raga

Other than the early 5.30 a.m. call to get ready for a live TV appearance on Channel 5 to 10 million viewers in Thailand, Monday saw the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists fulfil part of their diplomatic role, visiting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an official function hosted by Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The Thai Ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, was also in attendance, amidst substantial local media interest.
   It was also a day for the New Zealand national anthem, broadcast both on television in the morning and sung at the Ministry in the evening.
   They met the top place holders from Miss Universe Thailand, including Pimbongkod Chankaew, who will represent Thailand at the international competition later this year.
   At the ministerial event, Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey presented his opposite number at Miss Universe Thailand, Surang Prempree, a framed invitation for her titleholder to come to New Zealand later in 2014.
   In addition, four contestants had a very early morning shoot with Alan Raga, again wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, completed before 8 a.m.
   Channel 5 has since uploaded its clip to YouTube, embedded below.
   Godfrey notes in his interview with Channel 5, as the Thai people are justifiably concerned about their perception in international media, ‘We have seen nothing but safety … For us we could not feel safer, and that certainly is something we will be telling people in New Zealand when we go back.’
   In the afternoon, the top 25 went to Central Embassy, a shopping centre in Bangkok, to try their hand at cooking traditional Thai cuisine at the Issaya Cooking Studio. Their experience has already hit the Thai press, appearing in Thairath, one of the biggest newspapers in the country.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.










Alan Raga

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August 3, 2014

A full day in Bangkok for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014’s top 25 finalists

Lucire staff/5.33

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Alan Raga

The second day of the finalists’ retreat for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014, and the first full day in Thailand, was packed with activities for the top 25 around Bangkok.
   Most went for a morning visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha, while photographer Alan Raga began the swimwear shoots for three remaining contestants, with swimwear from Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co.
   Lunch was served at Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, while a further three had their shoots done in the afternoon.
   The contestants were subject to immense media coverage, continuing to highlight what the Thai ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, sees as contributing positively to the diplomacy between the two countries.
   A packed evening was lined up for all 25 at Asiatique, the Riverfront, an open-air mall featuring a night bazaar and, currently, Muay Thai Live—the Legend Lives, a show performed at the state-of-the-art theatre at the venue nightly except Sunday. It chronicles the history of Thai kickboxing over the last three centuries.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. The public will have a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting and through the electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.




Alan Raga


Muay Thai Live

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August 2, 2014

Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists arrive in Bangkok

Lucire staff/2.33

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Alan Raga

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists have left the southern shores, and are presently at the Hilton Bangkok, as they commence their retreat in the Kingdom of Thailand for the following week.
   Since the Miss New Zealand Consortium was awarded the licence for Miss Universe in 2013, the directors felt that the live swimwear segment had to disappear from the competition. However, international rules still required it, so a swimwear shoot on a beach, with a closed set, became the best option for the live telecast that took place last October.
   Miss Universe New Zealand executive director Nigel Godfrey and general counsel Jack Yan were tight-lipped this year about the destination of the retreat, given political changes in Thailand. However, Thailand came on the radar again with the support of its ambassador to New Zealand, HE Noppadon Theppitak, and the top 25 finalists along with a crew departed on August 1.
   The Ambassador sees the retreat as a core part of the Thai–New Zealand relationship, given the high, mainstream interest in the Miss Universe competition in Thailand, and much of Asia. The 2013 finalists’ retreat was extensively covered in print and televised media in Thailand.
   Kiwi lensman Alan Raga is photographing the finalists, who will be wearing Surface Too Deep and Honey & Co. swimwear, in shoots commencing Saturday.
   The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 grand final takes place at Sky City Theatre, Auckland, on September 18. As with 2013, the public has a hand in deciding the winner, through text voting, and, as a new innovation this year, through an electronic i-vote. See nextmissnz.com/top25.shtml for voting details. Further updates of the competition are on the Miss Universe New Zealand Facebook and Instagram, with hashtags #missuniversenz and #munz14.



Alan Raga

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