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Opinions: what we need from media beyond ‘fake news’; looking to the stars


NEWS  by Lucire staff/March 15, 2017/21.47

We need independent media


Paul Clarke/CC BY-SA 4.0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37435469

Above: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

Earlier this month, Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote an open letter expressing his concerns about the evolution of his invention, the World Wide Web. (Interestingly, he writes the term all in lowercase.)
   It wasn’t just about ‘fake news’, which is how the media have reported it. His first concern was, in fact, about our losing control over our personal data, and determining when and with whom we share them. It’s something I’ve touched on regularly since 2011, when Google breached its own stated policies over user-preference collection for advertising purposes, something that Facebook appears to be following suit with mid-decade. This was long before Edward Snowden blew the lid on his government’s monitoring, something that’s happening to citizens of other occidental nations, too.
   Sir Tim writes, ‘Through collaboration with—or coercion of—companies, governments are also increasingly watching our every move online, and passing extreme laws that trample on our rights to privacy. In repressive regimes, it’s easy to see the harm that can be caused—bloggers can be arrested or killed, and political opponents can be monitored. But even in countries where we believe governments have citizens’ best interests at heart, watching everyone, all the time is simply going too far. It creates a chilling effect on free speech and stops the web from being used as a space to explore important topics, like sensitive health issues, sexuality or religion.’
   But the one that struck me as very pertinent to publishing is Sir Tim’s second point. It’s the one that most news outlets seized on, linking it back to ‘fake news’, a term now corrupted by the executive branch of the US Government when attacking coverage that it doesn’t like. However, Sir Tim’s points were far broader than that. And it’s evident how his first point links to his second.
   It’s not hard to see that there is biased coverage on both the right and right wings of US politics (interestingly, they call it left and right), although Sir Tim points to how ‘a handful of social media sites or search engines’ show us the things that appeal to our own biases through their algorithms. ‘Fake news’ then spreads through these algorithms because they play to our prejudices. He writes, ‘those with bad intentions can game the system to spread misinformation for financial or political gain.’ These sites are able to determine what we see based on the data we’ve given them, willingly or unwillingly.
   It’s so far from the ideals of the World Wide Web that it’s sad that the medium, which was once so expansive and inspirational as we surfed from one site to the next to read and absorb information, has come to this: a tool for becoming more insular, the first path to the idiocracy.
   Google, as I wrote last year, biases itself toward larger sites, no longer rewarding the media outlet that breaks a news item. The incentive to be that maverick medium is, therefore, lessened greatly online, because the web isn’t being ranked on merit by the largest player in the search-engine business. It’s why Duck Duck Go, which doesn’t collect user data, gives search results that are generally fairer. We think it’s important to learn alternative viewpoints, especially in politics, otherwise the division that we already see in some countries will only deepen—and at worst this can lead to war. In peacetime countries, a compatriot with opposing political thoughts is not our enemy.
   Facebook’s continued data collection of user preferences is also dangerous. Even after users opt out, Facebook’s ad preferences’ page demonstrates that it will keep collecting. Whether or not Facebook then uses these preferences is unknown—certainly Facebook itself clams up—but since the site reports journalists who alert them to kiddie porn, kicks off drag queens after saying they wouldn’t, and forces people to download software in the guise of malware detection, who knows if any of Facebook’s positions are real or merely ‘fake news’? Knowing the misdeeds of sites like Facebook—and Google which itself has been found guilty of hacking—do they actually deserve our ongoing support?
   Of course I have an interest in getting people to look beyond the same-again players, because I run one media outlet that isn’t among them. But we have an interest to seek information from the independents, and to support a fair and neutral internet. We may learn an angle we hadn’t explored before, or we may find news and features others aren’t covering. Better yet, we may learn alternative viewpoints that break us out of our prejudices. Surely we can’t be that scared of learning about alternatives (maybe one that is better than what we believe), or having a reasoned debate based on fact rather than emotion or hatred? And if you are sharing on social media, do you want to be one of the sheep who uses the same click-bait as everyone else, or show that you’re someone who’s capable of independent thought?
   It shouldn’t be that difficult to distinguish fake-news sites from legitimate media (even though the line gets blurred) by looking at how well something is subedited and how many spelling mistakes there are. Perhaps the headlines are less emotive. There is a tier of independent media that deserves your support, whether it is this site or many competing ones that we’ve linked ourselves. Going beyond the same-again sources can only benefit us all.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Stars in their eyes


Chanel

Above: Chanel continues its long-running Comète collection.

Coco Chanel is known for embracing astrology. Her inspiration is reflected in many of her jewellery creations and designs years later. The star motif is highlighted within the Comète collection and while the lion, representative of the brand, is reminiscent of the city of Venezia and symbolic of her astrological sign. The designer’s influential vision comes to life within many of the intricately detailed pieces.
   To this day, astrology serves as a tool that could provide one with knowledge and even supposed explanatory perceptions. Fashion-focused entities and individuals have contemplated to what extent one’s rising sign or ascendant, representing the door to one’s identity, is correlated to one’s wardrobe and personal style. Some inquisitive individuals ponder about personalities, style and even probable futuristic outcomes in the financial field. The AstroTwins, Tali and Ophira Edut, who have been featured in a number of outlets, have given advice to a slew of celebrities. While they focus mainly on various predictions according to the stars, some have used astrology to tap in to the financial market. The Merriman Market Analyst is one of the many prominent sites that discuss and explain transformations and changes in planets that could serve in financial as well as everyday astrology. Other than the website, they have published books for international audiences, divulging and examining the planets and geocosmic aspects. According to the website’s disclaimer, ‘The hope is … it will help the reader understand the psychological dynamics that underlie (or coincide with) the news events …’ For decades, the founder continues to ponder on certain circumstances, whether on a weekly or yearly basis, leading a team of apprentices that follow in his footsteps.—Lola Cristall, Paris Editor

The Modist launches retail site for modest fashion, while Getty Images and MuslimGirl.com announce photo library


NEWS  by Lucire staff/March 9, 2017/10.01

The Modist, an online store for modest fashion, opened yesterday, shipping to over 100 countries. The store has a selection of over 75 designers, including Marni, Alberta Ferretti, Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou, ensuring a contemporary, fashionable selection. The store is accompanied by an online magazine called The Mod, which includes styling tips and interviews. Says founder Ghizlan Guenez, ‘Our mission is to build a strong sense of purpose to empower a woman’s freedom of choice and to acknowledge how similar women across the world are, despite our diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles—a relevant conversation at this time. We aim to break down preconceived notions while building a community and dialogue that invigorates, informs and celebrates the fashionable, modern, modest woman.’
   The Modist’s COO, Lisa Bridgett, notes that the market potential in the modest fashion segment is projected to reach US$484,000 million by 2019.
   Also in recognition of a more global, inclusive society, MuslimGirl.com and Getty Images announced yesterday a content partnership that aims to convey a more authentic representation of Muslim women. The imagery is far more realistic and positive, battling stereotypes and misconceptions. The photographs feature girls with and without hijabs, and Muslim women in everyday situations at home, with friends and at work.
   ‘One of the ways I open up my talks is by asking the audience to search Muslim women images on their phone browsers, which is always met with their awe at the unsettling results,’ said Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.com. ‘I don’t want to be able to use that example anymore, and I could not be prouder to partner with Getty Images on finally taking on such an important and influential task.’

Natalia Vodianova fronts H&M’s Conscious Exclusive campaign in a gown made from recycled polyester


NEWS  by Nathalia Archila/February 8, 2017/23.11



Natalia Vodianova stars in H&M’s Conscious Exclusive campaign, highlighting the brand’s use of Bionic, a recycled polyester made from recovered shoreline waste.
   H&M Conscious is the Swedish retailer’s sustainable, socially responsible collection, with the Exclusives going a step further with limited-edition designs and, usually, a high-profile spokesmodel.
   The key design this season is an ethereal plissé pleat gown in powder pink in Bionic.
   H&M, which had been named as one of Medinge Group’s Brands with a Conscience in 2008, has been increasing its use of sustainable materials, now reaching 20 per cent. It is now one of the world’s biggest users of recycled polyester and one of the biggest buyers of organic cotton.
   H&M Conscious Exclusive shows that style and sustainability can go together.
   ‘I am proud to appear in the H&M Conscious Exclusive campaign. It’s amazing to see the advances in sustainable fabrics that are used in the collection, pointing towards a more sustainable future for all fashion,’ said Vodianova.
   ‘For the design team at H&M, this year’s Conscious Exclusive is a chance to dream and create pieces that are both quirky and beautiful. It’s great to be able to show just what is possible with sustainable materials like we have done with the delicate plissé dress made of Bionic,’ said Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M’s head of design and creative director.
   The 2017 collection will also include children’s pieces. The collection will go on sale in c. 160 stores worldwide, from April 20.—Nathalia Archila





Mary Tyler Moore, ground-breaking actress and diabetes campaigner, dies aged 80


NEWS  by Jack Yan/January 26, 2017/0.38




The two Camelots: the Petries’ living room was the hippest fictional place to be in the early 1960s, with Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show. Ed Asner with Moore in the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show—not the first take. The original first-season cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, clockwise from top left: Valerie Harper, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Ted Baxter, Mary Tyler Moore, and Gavin MacLeod.

Mary Tyler Moore, the multi-Emmy-winning star and Oscar-nominated actress, died aged 80 on Wednesday in Greenwich, Connecticut.
   Publicist Mara Buxbaum issued the following statement: ‘Today, beloved icon, Mary Tyler Moore, passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr S. Robert Levine. A ground-breaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile.’
   Moore was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 29, 1936. At 17, she wanted to be a dancer, with her dance training evident in one of the first roles that brought her national attention: the Happy Hotpoint elf, who danced across the screen as the mascot for Hotpoint appliances. She had a small role in Richard Diamond, Private Detective, and she guest-starred in numerous other TV shows.
   However, in 1961, Moore hit the big time when Carl Reiner cast her in The Dick Van Dyke Show. Moore saw herself as an aspiring dramatic actress, but found herself one of the most gifted comedic artists of her generation. It was Reiner’s second attempt at making the series (which he originally wrote for himself to star in), produced by Danny Thomas’s company. Thomas himself remembered Moore from an earlier role and recommended her to play opposite star Dick van Dyke as his screen wife.
   Despite an age gap between herself and van Dyke of 11 years, the two actors hit it off, and both have said since that they had crushes on each other. Her role was meant to have been a smaller one—effectively the straight man to van Dyke’s Rob Petrie character when he came home from the office—but recognizing her talents, her role began to expand.
   After a rocky first season that saw producer Sheldon Leonard approach sponsors to save the show, The Dick Van Dyke Show took off for its second season in 1962, and never looked back.
   The show was regarded as ground-breaking for showing a modern, white American couple in the suburbs, and Moore herself—as a young mother—wore capri pants as Laura Petrie, which brought her much attention, as well as complaints from less tolerant viewers. Moore’s catchphrase, ‘Ooh, Rob,’ became linked to her. She won two Emmys for her role as Laura Petrie, from three nominations.
   Van Dyke shared the clip below via Twitter on hearing of Moore’s death.

   Many of the key people on the show wanted to do other things—van Dyke had the beginnings of a movie career—and The Dick Van Dyke Show ended its run in 1966, on a high. Moore had numerous smaller roles, including one as a nun in the Elvis Presley starrer Change of Habit, but audiences still associated her with the Laura Petrie character. After appearing on a one-off van Dyke TV special, Moore and second husband Grant Tinker pitched a new sitcom to CBS.
   CBS effectively approved the sitcom based on Moore’s star power, though there were many road blocks in getting The Mary Tyler Moore Show made, as recounted in 2013 by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong in her book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted and All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic. The network had expected the show to be a flop, an early cut of the pilot didn’t find favour, and even co-star Ed Asner almost didn’t get his Lou Grant role, one that he is best known for. However, Moore, Tinker, and the team persisted, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show was one of the 1970s’ most acclaimed sitcoms, earning Moore four Emmy wins from eight nominations.
   The Mary Tyler Moore Show was, on the surface, an urban show that marked the dawn of the 1970s, after an era of rural-themed sitcoms such as The Beverly Hillbillies. But it was unheard of to show a young, single woman in her 30s forging a career and her own path in life. The show still stands up to scrutiny today for its writing and pace. Producers James L. Brooks and Allan Burns were committed to show a slice of reality—Moore could be seen repeating outfits during a season as a real working woman would—and to get a woman’s point of view, the show wound up hiring numerous female writers. It was implied in one episode that the fictional Mary Richards had stayed over a boyfriend’s, and another that she was on the Pill—both elicited viewer complaints at the time. The Mary Tyler Moore Show tapped into the US’s conscience, with the growing women’s movement. It also spawned imitators, including the short-lived sitcom Diana, with Diana Rigg, and the similarly short-lived Bewitched sequel, Tabitha. Behind all seven seasons were Moore and Tinker, who had formed their own production company, MTM Productions, Inc. MTM went on to produce numerous other shows, including spin-offs Rhoda, Phyllis and Lou Grant, as well as The Bob Newhart Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, Hill Street Blues, St Elsewhere, Remington Steele and The Pretender.
   Moore considered herself lucky to have been involved in ‘two Camelots’: two series that had broken ground in their respective times. While continuing to remain active on stage and screen, few projects were as well connected to Moore in the public mind. Moore did receive an Oscar nomination for her role in Ordinary People (1980) as a mother grieving the death of one of her sons—a situation that had a tragic parallel that year as Moore’s son, Richie, by her first husband Richard Meeker, accidentally shot himself in an accident.
   Moore and Tinker divorced in 1981, and she married her third husband, Dr S. Robert Levine, in 1983.
   Later projects included telemovie sequels to both The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Mary and Rhoda, released in 2000—and never had the spark of the original) and The Dick Van Dyke Show (2004, written by creator Carl Reiner and called its 159th episode). As covered in Lucire in 2012, van Dyke presented her with a SAG lifetime achievement award.
   Moore was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her 30s and was an active campaigner for the JDRF, formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She was also an animal rights’ activist and a vegetarian.—Jack Yan, Publisher, with Nathalia Archila


John Shearer/WireImage

Above: Mary Tyler Moore receives a lifetime achievement award from former co-star Dick van Dyke.

Sonam Kapoor, Naomie Harris, Zhang Zi Lin, Rosamund Pike among celebs at IWC Schaffhausen launch


NEWS  by Nathalia Archila/January 19, 2017/23.13

On the night of January 17 at a private gala event, IWC Schaffhausen and a thousand VIP guests visited Genève to celebrate the arrival of the new Da Vinci collection.
   ‘The new collection is a modern interpretation of the iconic Da Vinci design from the 1980s. Along with its haute horlogerie innovations, the collection once more includes references that have been designed deliberately with women in mind—as is indicated by various features such as smaller case diameters, moving strap horns, diamond-set bezels and leather straps by Santoni in various colours,’ explained Georges Kern, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.
   Numerous IWC brand ambassadors and international stars such as actors Rosamund Pike, Vanessa Redgrave, James Marsden, Sonam Kapoor, Olga Kurylenko, Jean Reno (with Zofia Reno), Game of Thrones’ Joseph Mawle, Naomie Harris, Zhang Zi Lin, Chen Bolin, Isabelle Huppert, Taylor Schilling, Moritz Bleibtreu, Barbara Becker, Franziska Weisz, Elyas M’Barek, Palina Rojinski, Hend Sabri, Murilo Benício, Pierfrancesco Favino, Ralf Möller, Anna Ferzetti, Anna Drijver, Rob Brydon, and Sir Patrick Stewart; singers and musicians Ronan Keating (with Storm Keating), Sunny Ozell, John Helliwell, and Sebastian Bürgin; TV presenters Raya Abirached and Alessia Marcuzzi; photographers Mika Ninagawa and Murad Osmann; producer Juan López Salaberry; sporting and racing legends Nico Rosberg (with Vivian Rosberg) Lewis Hamilton, Niki Lauda (with Birgit Lauda), Fabian Cancellara, Jan Frodeno, Arsène Wenger, Jochen Mass, Carmen Jordá, Oliver Bierhoff (with Klara Bierhoff), Alexei Nemov (with Galina Nemov), Günter Netzer (with Elvira Netzer), and Ion Țiriac; models Karolína Kurková, Adriana Lima, Vanessa Lorenzo, Monika Radulović (with husband, artist Alessandro Ljubičić), Andrés Velencoso, and Natalia Zakharova; chefs Andrea Berton (with Sandra Berton) and Diego Guerrero; and influencers such as Alexandra Lapp, Tiany Kiriloff, Kristina Bazan, Xenia Tchoumi, Elias El-Indari, Nadya Hassan, Lana El Sahely, Nicole Warne, Germina Preses, stylist Ana Antic, Sandra Bauknecht, Chiara Maci, and Negin Mirsalehi stepped onto the red carpet. Danish singer MØ performed live on stage at the event. Kern’s successor, Christoph Grainger-Herr, made his first appearance at a major celebrity event, as did Monika Kern, who accompanied her husband. IWC’s CMO Franziska Gsell also attended, as did IWC VIP customer, man-about-town Tim Jeffries.
   IWC Schaffhausen has been producing watches since 1868, and has gained an international reputation, creating masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision and exclusive design.—Nathalia Archila

The Beauty Therapy Project treats London’s homeless women to makeovers for Christmas


NEWS  by Lucire staff/December 23, 2016/0.14




Emanuela Di Mulo

Top: The Beauty Therapy Project’s founder, Ebun Ali. Above: Scenes from the special day as 50 professionals gave makeovers to homeless women.

Fifty volunteers in London have pampered homeless women as part of the Beauty Therapy Project.
   A southeast London community centre was transformed into a beauty haven, with drapes, warm lighting and forest greenery, thanks to sponsors Cocospring and Popsy Mag.
   The Beauty Therapy Project raised over £3,000 in under two weeks through Crowdfunder and helped engage women to donate sanitary towels and toiletries. Donations will be distributed to homeless shelters across London.
   The women, accessed through St Mungo’s homeless shelter, were treated to makeovers from 50 professional make-up artists, hairstylists, masseuses and nail technicians. They could access a full wardrobe, including clothes, jewellery, bags and other accessories, all of which they could keep. Each woman could also keep a goody bag containing items from Pink Parcel, Motives Cosmetics, Nails Inc., Fab Little Bags, Sanitary Owl, Yogaleggs, Sugar Tables, Emily Crisps, Seascape, Joe’s Tea, Clarity Magazine, Popchips, Vitacoco, Mallow and Marsh, Pip & Nut, Organyc, Kokomelt and Cinnamon Tree Bakery. The evening concluded with a long-table banquet dinner.
   Director of the Beauty Therapy Project, Ebun Ali, said, ‘It was a surreal experience—it was humbling and very emotional for everyone involved. Seeing these women transformed was one of the most beautiful things we could have ever witnessed and we are all so honoured to have been a part of this.’
   Supporters Martha Silcott (the inventor of Fab Little Bags) and Robina Brennan (partnership manager at Smart Works charity) are looking to provide longer-term solutions.
   Other partner organizations were Heartbeat Community Centre, Everyone Active Leisure Centre, Southwark Council, the Salvation Army, Loveworks, Woosh Washrooms, Smart Works and Camberwell Market.





Emanuela Di Mulo

Celebrity Connected: a platform for the “green party”


NEWS  by Elyse Glickman/November 20, 2016/6.20




Elyse Glickman

After an intense, divisive US presidential season, and its controversial aftermath, Californians were ready to kick off award show season. Celebrity Connected not only got the party started, but provided some much needed pre-Christmas comfort and joy to greet the Hollywood creative community. The W Hollywood became a Garden of Eden, filled with a bumper crop of organic vegan goodies, non-dairy frozen treats, comfy weekend wear, interesting vaping inventions, yoga goods, and plants that could be planted in yards to further green up one’s neighboUrhood.

The Children’s Hour
Bears for Humanity founder Vijay Prathap spread a little early Yuletide cheer, distributing US-made Santa Bears to get his point across about the company’s multi-tiered charitable efforts. The 100 per cent certified organic, global Fair Trade elements of the bear are brought together by at-risk women looking to expand their career opportunities through the welfare-to-work programme. With every bear purchased, another bear is given to a child in need in communities throughout the country.
   There were also all-ages fashion and skin care (with lots of mother-and-daughter teamwork) served up by Royal & Reese, Swag-Eez and Sistah Buttah, as well as yoga hear from Karma and Soul. Pre-teen entrepreneurs Angels & Tomboys showed off their Shark Tank-winning, rock-inspired body sprays (including Purple Rain, a tribute to Prince reminding one of the grape soda we all loved as kids).

Green days
Although the overall progressive agenda now hangs in the balance with a conservative government coming to power in 2017, the fight to make cannabis legal in several states—including California—has moved in the right direction. Adults over 18 could sign up with MediCann doctors on the spot for paperwork that provided three months of access to dispensaries. In the immediate, they could sample several innovative products incorporating medical marijuana, cannabis, and hemp.
   Hemp Kitchen offered a Medicine Chest package through their delivery service with a variety of foods and treatment products addressing pain relief, headaches and other ailments. Chef Mike was on hand to explain how enjoy the products and the nutritional components of the goods. The Art of Edibles Cannabis Collective and To Whom It May provided chocolate aficionados with gorgeously wrapped gourmet truffles, and generous gifts from VQase and Hawaiian Vape provided extra flavour and fun for those partaking in the popular cigarette alternative.
   Souly Vegan of Oakland served substantial sustenance, while Justin’s nutty goodies added sweet relief to mid-day hunger pangs and Cocorilla had coconut water as nature intended—in its original shell. Pure indulgence was doled out by Street Churos (a food truck with a charitable element), Kokolato gelato and Yoga-urt.

Other things that rocked
Stand-out items included hand-crafted natural stone statement jewellery and minaudière handbags from Ann Ong, Rocking the Clock’s repurposed musical instrument home décor clocks and accents, and Cordcruncher, which promises to eliminate tangled earbuds once and for all. A great travel essential I look forward to trying is MAI Couture’s passport case, which can be filled with easy to use, unbreakable, and mess-proof papers with blush, bronzer, and foundation.

Finds beyond the suite
Around the same time as this suite, we found some other good products worth noting. Eufora Curl ’N is one of the best curl-defining sprays for finer hair texture going. All the definition and spring without sticky stuff weighing down hair.
   EC/BC recently rolled out its TSA-friendly backpacks and briefcases. Though the designs are unisex, these carry-on items make a statement in terms of fuss-free travel that help sort out (literally) anything that may stop a law-abiding citizen in the security line. The Barceló Hotel Group (known for its Caribbean and Mexican resorts) is also expanding its reach into Cuba, Costa Rica and other hot destinations, figuratively and literally.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor
















Elyse Glickman

Skilful execution by tomorrow’s stars at New Zealand School of Dance’s 2016 Graduation Season


NEWS  by Jack Yan/November 16, 2016/11.39




Stephen A’Court

Above, from top: Meistens Mozart. An excerpt from Political Mother. Pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty.

The New Zealand School of Dance’s Graduation Season once again brings an expertly executed programme, mixing genres from classical to modern to experimental. Among the programme tonight were three premières: Helgi Tomasson’s Meistens Mozart was performed for the first time in New Zealand, while Amber Haines’s Incant and Jiři Bubeniček’s Dance Gallantries received their world premières on opening night of the season at Te Whaea.
   Meistens Mozart started the evening and showed that, with the right arrangement and choreography, the German language could be made cheerful. Songs by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, Bernhard Flies and Jakob Haibel, sung by the Tölzer Boys’ Choir, accompanied the six dancers, the standout of whom was George Liang. Liang had previously been at Canada’s National Ballet School, and we had seen him perform last month at the Republic of China’s National Day celebration. There were no opening-night jitters from any of the six, who instantly transported us to an alpine society, celebrating springtime love, courtship and playfulness.
   The all-male He Taonga—a Gift was an energetic and intense performance where drumbeats from Whirimako Black’s ‘Torete te Kiore’ soundtrack sparked sudden moves, a demonstration of control and strength from the 14 dancers. Choreographed by Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete, He Taonga was created for the School in 2009 and reprised tonight.
   Opening the second section, Laura Crawford and Yuri Marques were like delicate dolls in their pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty, Act III, with the choreography after Marius Petipa. Marilyn Rowe, OBE staged and coached, while Qi Huan was répétiteur. This was a tough ballet piece to get right and the pair got stronger as they performed, gaining confidence and drawing us into their romance.
   Taking a complete tangent into modern dance was the solo performance of Glitch, a new work from NZSD tutor Victoria Columbus, whose talents we most recently saw at the World of Wearable Art, where she serves as director of choreography. The movements themselves were created by graduate Connor Masseurs, who performed the dance, playing the part of a “glitching” robotic man short-circuiting on stage with skilful, shuddering movements. Masseurs completely absorbed us with his solo: it wasn’t just his limbs that Masseurs controlled, he extended the idea to facial movements, inventively finding new ways to glitch. Masseurs first performed the dance at the Grand Théâtre at the Maison de la Culture de Tahiti as part of a gala at the Académie de Danse Annie Fayn.
   Incant was mysterious, brooding, and ethereal: this all-female work saw dancers come together to generate new shapes, conveying to us notions of clouds, trees in a forest, or tunnels, at times passing a lit sphere between them. Haines’s choreography was meant to question traditional notions of beauty and got us successfully focusing on the collective moves of the dancers. ‘This world,’ she notes in the programme, ‘invokes a mesmerizing state of collective consciousness and celebrates the power and luminous beauty of shared intention.’ A captivating work, it ended the second set of dances.
   Dance Gallantries was another more traditional work, with 10 dancers telling more playful stories of romance, complemented by Otto Bubeniček’s colourful costume design and solo violin music by J. S. Bach.
   A group of 12 performed an extract from Political Mother, the evening’s one political work with jarring music and clever choreography by Hofesh Shechter. A couple merrily folk-dances in a town square, happy to be part of their society, but are they genuinely happy or manipulated by the state? Their expressions seem to suggest the latter, fooled into believing that all is well and happy in their naïveté. The action moves on to a prison, where the music is muffled and dancers ape being restrained by either arms or ankles. The final scene, with a large group of dancers back in the town, show that the entire society has succumbed to the illusion, raising their arms in acceptance. It makes you question about the times we live in, and whether intellectual discourse is suppressed in favour of simpler ideas, a population told to be happy without really knowing why.
   Finally, Tchaikovsky’s music from The Nutcracker was excerpted for the upbeat Tempo di Valse, with the NZSD returning to a ballet to finish the evening. The ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ was instantly recognizable, the 15 dancers showing classical movements. Nadine Tyson choreographed, while the colourful traditional costumes were designed by Donna Jefferis.
   Depending on the show, the pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty may be replaced by Jack Carter’s Pas de deux romantique, with music by Rossini; while Glitch may give way to The Wanderer, choreographed by Columbus and perforned by Liang.
   The season runs from November 16 to 26 at Te Whaea in Wellington, New Zealand, with prices ranging from NZ$18 to NZ$33. Tickets can be booked at the New Zealand School of Dance, or online at nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/book-tickets. We’d rate it another must-see, especially to catch some rising stars—we understand that some are off overseas, already snatched up by dance companies.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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