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June 20, 2016

News in brief: La Roche–Posay shows Anthelios and My UV Patch innovations; stand-outs from ISPA press event

Lucire staff/19.38



While summer may be just around the corner in the northern hemisphere and folks Down Under are heading toward cooler temperatures, French dermatologist-based skin care brand La Roche–Posay is spreading the word about the importance of year-round sun protection with their SOS, Save Our Skin, campaign. Atop a high-rise overlooking bustling downtown Los Angeles, media attendees enjoyed a breakfast seminar while discovering their most recent Anthelios sun care innovations and the new pioneering My UV Patch. Available in stores in June, the patch is the first stretchable skin sensor designed to monitor UV exposure. The Patch has photosensitive dyes that change colour when exposed to UV rays. Using a scanner-equipped cellphone and La Roche–Posay’s app, you can find out your personalized level of exposure and get advice on what to do to protect your skin this summer.
   La Roche–Posay’s Skinchecker 2·0 video (see below) takes full advantage of our culture’s love of viral animal videos to get an important message across.
   Just a few miles down the road at the ultra-posh Montage Beverly Hills, the International Spa Association hosted their annual press event showcasing spas and resorts that not only pamper the body, but nurture the spirit and promote holistic health and wellness. While indulging in selected mini-treatments, attendees learned about each brand’s latest offering and unique philosophy. Though too numerous too mention, we thought there were a few stand-outs.
   The raw grandeur of Crystal Lake is the setting of Reno’s Atlantis Resort Spa, which features a Brine Inhalation Light Therapy Lounge and a whole body healing Rasul Ceremonial Chamber.
   On the banks of a sacred river in Wisconson, the Aspira Spa takes guests on a quest of mind and spirit. Their spa is a place of profound harmony with customized light and sound therapy and bathing experiences. You can even get a mani-pedi beside a crackling fire gazing under a starlit sky.
   Débuting a sleek new logo, updated colour scheme and an organic body care line, national chain Massage Envy shows that wellness can be affordable and accessible.—Jody Miller, LA correspondent

June 16, 2016

From supermodels to film: celebrating the work of Peter Lindbergh at Kunsthal Rotterdam

Lucire staff/13.41




Top: An image that kicked off the 1990s, with supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford in New York, appearing on the cover of British Vogue in January 1990. Copyright ©1990 by Peter Lindbergh (courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris/Gagosian Gallery). Centre: Wild at Heart, with Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder and Stephanie Seymour, Brooklyn, 1991, appearing in Vogue. Copyright ©1991 by Peter Lindbergh (courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris/Gagosian Gallery). Above: Kate Moss, Paris, 2015, wearing Giorgio Armani, spring–summer 2015. Copyright ©2015 by Peter Lindbergh (courtesy of Peter Lindbergh, Paris/Gagosian Gallery).

An exhibition on Polish-born, French-based photographer Peter Lindbergh, entitled Peter Lindbergh: a Different Vision on Fashion Photography, opens at the Kunsthal Rotterdam on September 10 at 5.30 p.m., running through February 12, 2017. It marks the first Dutch exhibition of Lindbergh’s work.
   Some of the most iconic fashion images of the past generation have been shot by Lindbergh, whose work is regularly seen in various editions of Vogue, and in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Visionaire, Interview and W. Exhibitions of his work have been held around the world beginning with the V&A in 1985. Lindbergh’s black-and-white 1990 Vogue photograph of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford was one that helped cement the reputation of the supermodels, if not arguably kicking off the era itself. Lindbergh’s work gave a sense of reality about his subjects, with his humanist, documentary approach.
   Said Lindbergh in an Art Forum interview earlier this year, ‘A fashion photographer should contribute to defining the image of the contemporary woman or man in their time, to reflect a certain social or human reality. How surrealistic is today’s commercial agenda to retouch all signs of life and of experience, to retouch the very personal truth of the face itself?’
   The exhibition features over 220 photographs and includes exclusive and previously unseen material, including personal notes, Polaroids, storyboards, films and prints. It is divided into nine different sections, representing the different themes in Lindbergh’s creative development: Supermodels, Couturiers, Zeitgeist, Dance, the Darkroom, the Unknown, Silver Screen, Icons, and an exclusive Rotterdam Gallery. This final section contains Lindbergh’s work for the October 2015 issue of Vogue Nederland, with Lara Stone and Elise Hupkes at the Port of Rotterdam.
   Lindbergh’s critically acclaimed Models: the Film (1991) will be screened, along with interviews with Grace Coddington, Nicole Kidman, Mads Mikkelsen, Cindy Crawford and Nadja Auermann.
   Guest curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot points out that the exhibition is not chronological, but a narrative about the photographer.
   The Kunsthal Rotterdam noted, ‘Peter Lindbergh introduced a new realism into photography. His timeless images redefine the norms of beauty. Lindbergh’s visual idiom is influenced by the language of film and by playing with the type of the strong, self-willed woman, from the femme fatale to the heroine, but also the female dancer and the actress. His œuvre is characterized by portraits that radiate a certain lack of inhibition and physical grace.’
   The exhibition is accompanied by a hardcover monograph, Peter Lindbergh: a Different Vision on Fashion Photography, retailing for €59,99 (link at Amazon.de), US$69·99 (link at Amazon.com) or £44·99 (link at Amazon UK), curated by Loriot, designed by Paprika of Montréal, and published by Taschen. The introduction has been authored by Kunsthal director Emily Ansenk, while the book features an essay on Lindbergh’s work by Loriot with commentaries from, inter alia, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nicole Kidman, Grace Coddington, Cindy Crawford and Anna Wintour.

May 20, 2016

An extensive Scope: NZ School of Dance blends Choreographic Season pieces into thoughtful, cohesive work

Jack Yan/14.13





Stephen A’Court

Above, from top: Connor Masseurs. A scene from Scope. Kent Giebel-Date and Christina Guieb. Christina Guieb.

The New Zealand School of Dance’s Choreographic Season for 2016, Scope, blended its 10 performance so seamlessly, and with related themes, that it worked well as a single, larger piece, despite the many talents and styles involved in choreography, music and dance.
   Each time we attend an NZSD performance, we’re always impressed by how they mix things up. Sometimes, it’s in the style of dancing or the changes to the venue. This time, they’ve surprised us yet again by not having breaks between each work, allowing them to flow naturally. Other than at the beginning, when half-dressed dancers emerged on stage in a row, only to have their neatly folded outfits fall from the sky, there were also no costume changes.
   Scope’s notes hint at the related themes, all centring on the energies that drive life on Earth, and how humanity can be destructive, but also how it can unite and bring people together. The flow did mean it was sometimes difficult to see when one performance finished and another started—this is not meant as a negative criticism, because the effect is that the audience became particularly engrossed.
   The performances flowed so seamlessly thanks largely, we believe, to the collaborative processes by the 10 graduating students of the New Zealand School of Dance, who created and performed their own works, cooperating with lighting and sound designers as well as fellow students in following years. It was particularly immersive, more so than the 2015 season that Lucire thought very highly of.
   In a release, the show’s coordinator, Victoria Colombus, herself an alumna, noted, ‘This year the New Zealand School of Dance students and Toi Whakaari students are cultivating a very collaborative working process. They have been working together to investigate overriding themes and how they can utilize different elements of stagecraft and performance to sew together these common threads.’ It worked.
   ‘Trophics’, choreographed by Tristan Carter with music by Te Aihe Butler, involved the entire cast, essentially evolving. The first scene showed them essentially running on to the stage but as they progressed, their moves became more complex, as though they discovered they had more limbs and abilities. This evolved into the next performance, printed in the programme with a blank box and the cubed sign as its title, with the introduction of white boxes as props but signifying that we can find peace among our busy lives. Christopher Mills’s ‘Box Cubed’ (for ease of typesetting here) concluded with female dancers calling out to others scattered among the audience, the matriarchy evolved into the patriarchy with ‘Obelus’, a male-exclusive performance that mixed martial arts with the flow of dance, examining themes of rivalry, the toppling of leadership, and the resulting power vacuum. There was thoroughly enjoyable choreography by Jag Popham.
   From here the performances became more otherworldly—and one can see the evolutionary theme continue into a more technical arena. ‘The Private Sphere’ introduced themes of contrast: ‘Plastic fruit and tending flowers. Air freshener and painted landscapes,’ read the programme, but we saw it as humanity’s attempt to introduce technology, but not always in a pleasant way. Dancers mimicked robotic movements as they portrayed artificial materials; could the theme have been the draining of humanity from our everyday lives? From Isaac di Natale’s ‘The Private Sphere’, we moved into Breanna Timms’s ‘Atlas of Intangible’, where the movements became fluid again, almost to show that advancements can see us claw back our humanity. Timms’s idea was to show the connections between all life through energy, how the actions of one influence another, and this was done with great beauty and more tradition in the choreography, helped with music such as Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s ‘Summa for Strings’.
   Samuel Hall’s ‘Come along and Feel the Kairos’, a reference to that perfect moment, involved audience members in the front row (Lucire’s second-row seat meant the note-taking continued), who became part of a mass performance. Dancers in the centre connected while one remained outside the lines formed by the audience and their guides; and despite the presence of amateurs on stage there was a flow that held our attention.
   ‘Blight’, choreographed by Tiana Lung, had many layers that tied back to earlier themes of technology and humankind’s attempts to quell nature as a result; a dancer representing new life is controlled and quashed by existing life forms. ‘Shaving a Cactus’, choreographed by Holly Newsome, again introduced a technological theme (helped by Crooked Colours’ ‘Step (Woolymammoth × Tsuruda Remix)’ as the soundtrack) and synthesized voices which dancers. Te Aihe Butler’s music editing for Jessica Newman’s ‘XXX’ took us back to the start thematically, with sound effects that were basic and raw. The whole cast returned for an energetic finalé in Isabel Estrella’s ‘Temenos’.
   Scope, the New Zealand School of Dance’s Choreographic Season for 2016, runs from May 20 to 28 at Te Whaea, the National Dance and Drama Centre, in Newtown, Wellington. Tickets are priced from NZ$12 to NZ$23; bookings and further information can be found at the NZSD’s website at www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher


Stephen A’Court

Above: The third-year contemporary students at the New Zealand School of Dance for 2016.

May 17, 2016

Indie Beauty Expo (IBE): Hollywood’s “independents’ day”

Elyse Glickman/14.23



Clinique, Lancôme and L’Oréal may have been staples on our vanity tables for decades, but there is something about trying the best invention nobody’s heard of yet. The Indie Beauty Expo (IBE), staged at the the Shrine Expo Hall (best known as a venue for rock concerts and award ceremonies) was the place beauty bloggers needed to be to Tweet, Instagram and buzz about the latest and greatest skin, body care, and make-up maverick brands around the globe.
   The Shrine Expo Hall, under the direction of co-founder Jillian Wright (whose client roster includes Kim Kardashian, Ivana Trump and Kristen Wiig) was a feminine garden of delights. The harvest of fresh picks ran the gamut from colour cosmetics to hair care, professional spa lines, anti-ageing remedies, exotic indulgences (of the do-it-yourself home spa variety), vitamin supplements, fragrances and a smattering of gadgets designed to make the daily beauty routine cleaner and more sanitary (Potty Mints, for example, and Spongelle Spongelle Beyond Cleansing soaps, regulars at Doris Bergman’s always fabulous awards season parties).
   While many attendees are not old enough in our estimation to consider and compare the benefits of different anti-ageing remedies, we agree it never hurts to learn what’s out there and start spreading the news!* And with that, we present our picks for the most interesting and innovative goods in this garden among the 150 brands on display (twice as many as 2015, according to sources behind the event).
   Given current beauty trends, we saw a lot of organic oils and locally harvested products, bringing the farm-to-table mood from the restaurant to the vanity table. From argan to moringa, the event was a wellspring of beautifying oil, and with so many new brands vying for our attention, it was inevitable that a few stood out from the pack.

· Be Biotin, bebiotin.com.
· Circ-Cell, designed by a Wyoming entrepreneur for the rigours of mercurial weather: we think this line could be come more relevant in the wake of global warming.
· Cosmedicine: they had us with the rose-flavoured macarons, but we also admired the simply packaged, and user-friendliness of the product designs.
· Crème Collective: move over, Estée Lauder conglomerate! This line brings together definitively 21st century brands including Rituel de Fille.
· Florapy: conceived in California and made in Korea, this line of therapy facial masks (some for emotional well being and others for facial improvements) are made with organic coconut.
· Georgie Beauty: smaller is better, and this line for eyes is as focused as things get, with organic lashes, glues and liners. The founder is now making a portable cream blush, but she knows what she’s looking at in terms of the audience she hopes to reach.
· Glisodin Skin Nutrients: a collection of elaborately well thought-out vitamins and nutritional supplements that stress the importance of beauty from the inside out.
· Kesh: we love argan oil, as well as the direct pitch behind the line’s elegant packaging.
· Meder Beauty Science USA: we admire the way this Swiss line connects the dramatic results of professional in-office treatments with post-treatment home care.
· The Miracle Cream: many companies produce miracles in a jar, but we’re looking forward to testing out this all-body, all purpose cream with its blend of essential oils.
· MSteves: a few years ago, we covered the launch of Mally Steves Chakola’s sweet and simple rose hip oil-focused line, and are pleased she is still going strong.
· Native Atlas Botanical Skincare, handcrafted in small batches with ethically sourced materials gathered from all over the globe. The built-in plant-sourced vitamins and minerals nurture the mind, body, and spirit. Our pick from the line is the Liquid Exfoliant, which helps to refine and restore a clear complexion with blend of black willow and thyme and has been shown to enhance skin cell turnover.
· Nelson J Beverly Hills: one of our favourite local salon owners and colourists launches his own hair care line.
· Pacifica: the packaging is lust-worthy—we admit it. We look forward to trying the to-go make-up removers.
· Patyka, a renowned Parisian beauty house, converted old-school French luxury into exciting new ideas with certified organic formulations, making it the expo’s most elegant offering. The Huile Absolue Skin Booster Serum is the brand’s signature product. The 100 per cent natural serum for face, body and hair is carefully formulated with a powerful concentrate of 12 organic essential oils and plant extracts which effectively help regenerate new skin cells, boost the skin’s youthful resilience and restore a radiant glow.
· Revival Body Care: this collection brings the carefree, feelgood vibes and aromas of the beach anywhere with their collection of scrubs.
· Scentered: many companies are packaging perfectly lovely essential oils, but we love the way this UK company takes the concept to the next level, putting balanced blends into a solid, spill-proof and goof-proof format.
· UnWash turns the shampoo ritual on its head, with the conditioning step coming first.
· Ursa Major: simple, no-nonsense skin care for men and women with bracing aromas.
· Volanté Skincare: many product lines are promising clinic-like results at home, but we were impressed with how well prepared founder Elizabeth Vanderveer was in presenting the befores and afters with her products.
· Yuni is absolute genius. While the line was devised for active people who integrate workouts into their busy day, it is also ideal for transcontinental fliers and workaholics. Pop-up sheets, lotions and muscle relaxers allow you to feel fresh at a moment’s notice. It’s almost like having your entire home bathroom with you. All products combine natural ingredients, modern convenience, and mood-enhancing attributes into some very unique products. The No Rinse Body Cleansing Foam really caught our eye—a waterless solution to instantly refresh and foam away sweat, dirt and odour when you’re in a rush or a shower isn’t available. A blend of neem extract and alœ vera vanishes instantly with no rinse needed. Skin feels pristine and soft. A light aromatic blend of calming essential oils releases stress.—Elyse Glickman, US west coast editor, and Jody Miller, correspondent

* New York beauty sleuths will have their opportunity to survey a variety of emergent beauty brands and products on August 25 at the Waterfront in Manhattan. For more information, visit indiebeautyexpo.com/attend.









May 11, 2016

Indulging in nostalgia: new Catalina Island Museum opening

Lucire staff/13.26



Copyright Bunny Yeager/Galerie Schuster

Top: Architect’s rendering of the new Catalina Island Museum façade. Above: Bettie Page on the Florida beach, 1954.

Day trippers appreciate the southern California destination Catalina Island, easily accessible from Los Angeles. You take the ferry boat from Long Beach, cross the channel, and in about an hour, land in the car-free heritage hamlet of Avalon Harbor. There, nothing has changed for years. Long a haunt of Hollywood celebrities and their international guests, Catalina thrives on the tourist trade. In days of yore the allure was deep-sea fishing and exhibition games at the summer home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Today the menu includes boutique shopping, dining and people-watching, nature trekking, mountain biking, zip lines and excellent snorkelling.
   The big news this season is the grand opening of the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building, new home of the Catalina Island Museum, located at 217 Metropole Avenue, an easy walk from the ferry terminal. Two gala weeks of celebration will occur from June 18 to July 4. A gem of a museum, the institution is devoted to art, culture and history, and the sparkling new facility houses a fine collection of cultural artifact, ceramics, rare photography and nostalgia. A launch exhibition features recently discovered photos of pin-up model Bettie Page, taken in Miami by photographer Bunny Yeager in the 1950s. Other events scheduled include VIP receptions, and Tibetan sand-painting in the skylit atrium. A very reasonable membership to the Museum brings a host of benefits, well worth the charitable contribution. For more information visit www.catalinamuseum.org.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor




Above, from top: A young Norma Jean Baker lived on Catalina in the years before she became Marilyn Monroe. The Chicago Cubs (Stan Hack and Barney Olsen, pictured in 1941) delighted crowds in the summer months. Winston Churchill managed to land a California marlin during a visit.

May 4, 2016

Royal New Zealand Ballet’s The Wizard of Oz: a family-friendly feast

Jack Yan/14.29



Ross Brown

I truly hope Francesco Ventriglia’s The Wizard of Oz will be performed all over the world, because this family-friendly ballet has all the ingredients for first-time and seasoned watchers alike. What we saw at the world première tonight in Wellington were skilful dancing, moments of contemplation, beautiful staging and design, and a masterful matching to the music of Francis Poulenc.
   Based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, rather than the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz, audiences are helped by the familiar storyline, which is common to both. Ventriglia keeps the basic idea but takes some different parts from the book compared to the well known film, and in the adaptation to a ballet enhances certain scenes. The structure is of a classical ballet, as are many of the dance moves, including some neatly executed lifts and catches in two pas de deux in Act II, between the Prince and Princess of Porcelain (William Fitzgerald and Laura Jones on opening night), and the Wizard (Fitzgerald again) and Dorothy (Lucy Green).
   Ventriglia forgoes the cyclone in favour of a simpler Dorothy in hospital with a coma, watched over by her Uncle Henry (Sir Jon Trimmer), but once she is deposited in the land of the Munchkins, you know that the action has started. The use of this device is very personal to Ventriglia, and can be traced back to when he was five years old in Genova, when he noticed that a girl in isolation in a children’s hospital had gone from her bed one day. His mother told him that she had gone to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz.
   A blue sky backdrop links each scene with Dorothy, and on its first appearance in Act I, lights up one’s mood. Gianluca Falaschi, The Wizard of Oz’s designer, approaches the set with both creativity and sensibility. Doors open up revealing different scenes behind the sky set, depending on the context, but it works well, giving the stage additional depth. Watch out for both the Emerald City, which borders on a bright discothèque—and no, there are no shades of 1974’s film The Wiz here—and the Kingdom of Porcelain, which is revealed in the second act. There is one beautiful touch near the close of the second act where the Wizard offers to take Dorothy away, but the fear of revealing spoilers prevent me from telling you just what Falaschi has created.
   The costumes deserve extra mention. Glinda, the Witch of the North, danced by Abigail Boyle with plenty of movements en pointe, sparkled with a bright white costume that featured 1,000 sequinned butterflies, giving her an other-worldliness; this contrasted Dorothy’s simpler farm dress that Falaschi says took its cue from the film. Dorothy’s multiple costume changes—her "saucer tutu" for the Porcelain scene, for instance—hint at the chequered pattern of her original dress, so audiences are clear that Green is dancing in the same role. The Witch of the West (Mayu Tanigaito) only has the Flying Monkeys for her allies in this version, but she enters the stage looking sinister, her outfit having connections to more adult themes but considerably toned down for a family audience. The Flying Monkeys, meanwhile, are bare-chested but masked while they are under her spell, wearing large, black skirts. Elaborate, dominating movements convey their evil intent, while the chandeliers and prison cage on the set contrast with the simplicity of the blue sky of Dorothy’s world.
   Scarecrow (Loughlan Prior) deserves additional mention since he is the first character to follow Dorothy and, therefore, has a greater role on stage; Prior’s floppy, soft movements convey his character’s construction neatly. Tin Man (Massimo Margaria)’s metallic detailing on his outfit wasn’t as easily seen and almost looked as though he was wearing a body colour, but thankfully this newer interpretation allowed the ballerino much freer movement. Jacob Chown got into his Lion character from his first moment on stage, right through to when he took a bow.
   Felipe Domingos, as the Guardian of the Emerald City cut a distinctive figure with his flowing movements, and shone in his first scene; Harry Skinner’s Yellow Cat, chasing after the mice played by Linda Messina and Tonia Looker, was a particularly likeable comedic performance (though one wonders why the cat is bigger than the dog: Toto is a stuffed toy in this version). Watch out, too, for a tap-dancing scene as Green dons red shoes instead of the Silver Shoes from the book.
   Falaschi is inspired by 1930s bathing costumes, flapper dresses and cloches, and a bellhop’s uniform for the Guardian, all of which he works in to give The Wizard of Oz, a visual feel that is its own. In all, 37 new costumes were created for the production.
   Jason Morphett’s lighting was particularly clever, as Falaschi’s box set forced him to use lights in the corner. He based his concepts on Poulenc’s music, which lent itself well to visuals thanks to its lyrical nature. I tend to find lyrical scores can paint a scene better than those founded on sound effects, and the compilation of various Poulenc compositions, compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters from two dozen recordings, worked well as a complete ballet. Ventriglia calls the score ‘very cinematic,’ and that seems a very apt description.
   As detailed in our preview, the ballet began life as an unperformed, single-act ballet, which Ventriglia first conceived when artistic director of Maggio Danze in Firenze. There is an additional meaning here, as Ventriglia, who hails from Italy, has had to ask himself just what ‘home’ means, as Dorothy had to discover: ‘My conclusion is that home is where you feel grounded and comfortable within yourself,’ he writes in the programme. ‘For me that place is the dance studio.’
   The work, he writes, has been adapted to the dancing style of the company and the new inspirations he has found in New Zealand since his arrival a year and a half ago.
   The Wizard of Oz achieves its aim of being a big-story ballet that appeals to everyone, and audiences will be delighted at this latest production.
   The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz kicks off in Wellington on May 4, and will visit nine centres around New Zealand: Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Napier. Further information can be found at the Royal New Zealand Ballet website, www.rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher


April 21, 2016

Beyoncé partners with three charities as part of the Formation World Tour

Lucire staff/2.41

As part of her Formation World Tour, Beyoncé has announced three charitable organizations that will partner with her own initiative, BeyGood.
   The singer wants to encourage fans to give to the three organizations, and demonstrates how easy it is to “pay it forward”.
   She proposes using one of three ways: online through CrowdRise, in partnership with United Way, to support the Flint, Michigan water crisis (where fans can qualify for winning VIP tickets to her tour); through their communities with United Way, with issues specific to each tour market; or on-site, after signing up with Global Citizen and Chime for Change, with opportunities to win tickets and upgrades on the tour.
   United Way will be present at very stop beginning with the North American leg. The first venue is Marlins Park, Miami, Fla. on April 27. Gucci’s Chime for Change, which Beyoncé co-founded, and Global Citizen will have their programme in select tour locations, including Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and London. There are charity events in Houston, Compton (Calif.), and Detroit.
   Fans in Houston can give and support Rudy Rasmus and his Bread of Life initiative, combatting hunger in the city, and TurnAround Houston, to help create jobs. In Compton, the event will help Urban Education Institute, which works with youth through music and the arts. In Detroit, the event will celebrate the resourcefulness of the people of Flint and Detroit.
   Since the announcement of BeyGood, the initiative has claimed to have helped millions of people with employment, shelter and more. Tour dates are available at beyonce.com.

April 20, 2016

Get in NOW for Footnote: four entertaining dances, representing our times

Jack Yan/14.06


Courtesy Footnote

Footnote New Zealand Dance’s NOW 2016 (New Original Work) programme, which hit Wellington tonight after performances in Auckland, presents four original works by New Zealand choreographers Julia Harvie, Sarah Knox, Lucy Marinkovich and Jessie McCall. It’s a particularly enjoyable programme, mixing meanings, humour and, in the case of Elephant Skin, a lot of balloons.
   Each performance begins with a voice recording that sets the stage for the dance that follows, although viewers are still invited to make their own interpretations.
   Centerfolds (sic) begins with a humorous look at gender stereotyping, with the company’s male and female dancers wearing masks with a bun and dresses, signalling that we often take these cues and make automatic assumptions about a strict male–female duality. Marinkovich looks at roles such as waitress, housewife, heroine, songstress, supermodel, and others, questioning our conditioning; and while not every role appears as costumed characters, they are represented through the varied music choices. Masks play a part throughout, along with multiple costume changes, ensuring that Centerfolds never drags for a moment.
   Your Own Personal Exister is one of our favourites, as it examines not only existentialism but its opposite, inauthenticity. McCall does this with the notion of how, at a children’s birthday party, we feel the centre of attention when we wear our paper “crown”, but what if that crown was never removed? It’s an allegory of the selfie era, the “look at me” validation some seek. Three of McCall’s dancers don crowns, but one doesn’t, although he is unaware of this till some way into the performance. Yet this need consumes him eventually, and he joins the inauthenticity of the others.
   One of the regular techniques here had dancers opening their mouths facing upwards while recorded voices played, which worked particularly well, and the voiceover was poignant at the conclusion of the performance (which we won’t spoil here). And what happens when that crown is removed, where does that leave us? Despite the smaller number of Footnote dancers involved, this was a particularly powerful work that was danced beautifully.
   Elephant Skin takes a humorous look with balloons landing on stage at random points, sound effects creating more laughs, and a particularly brave dancer blowing up a balloon till it popped. Harvie explained in a post-show forum that she wanted freshness and tension in the performance, because as humans, we are problem-solvers, and the dance, too, should solve the problem of the randomly placed balloons. There was, of course, an overall structure which the dancers worked around, and one scene where white balloons stood in for clouds as one performer floated across the stage, before the others began popping the cloud around her.
   Harvie also noted that she has a fascination with balloons and that they have a human element to them.
   Disarming Dissent is the most energetic of the four in terms of getting the dancers to generate forceful movements, and by this time one is marvelling at their stamina. Rowan Pearce’s music reached crescendos twice as the energy built up. Dance, exercise and martial arts combine here as Knox talks about the fight we have against the system, but then how we pacify ourselves, drawn back by either that very system or our own impulses.
   The Wellington première at Te Whaea had a unique forum at the end which featured the dancers, Harvie, general manager Richard Aindow as host, and artistic liaison Anita Hunziker.
   The Auckland performances have been (April 15–16), Wellington has one more night (21st, at Te Whaea), Dunedin is on April 28 at Mayfair Theatre, and those in Invercargill will see NOW 2016 on May 1 at Centrestage during the Southland Festival. For tickets and information, head to footnote.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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