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August 20, 2015

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: where talent surpasses itself

Jack Yan/16.19

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Stephen A’Court

Top Dancers Tonia Looker and MacLean Hopper in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Above Tonia Looker and Harry Skinner.

If you ever wish to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet when everyone has reached beyond what you knew was their peak, then A Midsummer Night’s Dream presents that very opportunity: a ballet where the quality is jaw-droppingly magnificent, where choreographer, designer, lighting designer, and musical director have surpassed themselves, and where the dancers have revelled in bringing a production to life.
   In tonight’s (August 20) world première, Tracy Grant Lord’s designs are the first thing you notice, a galactic image of the night sky projected on to the curtain before the action is revealed, then a set that can only be described as her best work reviewed by Lucire to date. Set in a fairy dell in the wood, Lord’s imagination takes us into a world of cabanas and fungi, with electric blue shades offsetting the dark, night sky. It is the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s largest set, complete with bridges, multiple staircases, even a pole from which Puck slides down. Lord notes that her design ‘includes particular structural, decorative and technical elements that exist only for this production, and have all been developed and manufactured in the company workshops.’ This is a unique interpretation, a master-class in ballet set design, all the more impressive when one considers that Lord had a budget to work to. She envelopes us with her world even before the dancers take their first step.
   Kendall Smith’s lighting design comes into its own with Lord’s set, keeping the cabanas’ interiors dark when unused and lighting them subtly when dancers appear. His moon, in Act II, appears as a round, fluorescent ring, emerging from behind the mesh. With Lord employing a single set for the entire ballet, Smith’s lighting gave the production a sense of variety and change throughout. We noted earlier that Smith employed 4,000 LEDs and 2,000 m of fibreoptic cable, and we can certainly say they were put to excellent use. Smith, whose résumé includes lighting for Andrea Boccelli and Luciano Pavarotti, and some of the most respected companies in the US, was flown out with the support of the US Embassy, giving another world-class aspect to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
   Lord also stretched her imagination with the costumes, giving the initial illusion that the fairies were petite; it was only when Oberon and Titania appeared that you began realizing their true scale. Oberon’s and Puck’s costumes had a more cinematic, modern bent than seen in other interpretations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the former having a plunging neckline and a science-fiction feel to it. The fairies’ wings and headgear had metallic detailing, again taking us beyond the typical dell and going past the usual, traditional elements that earlier productions tend to rely on.
   Rising star Liam Scarlett did not disappoint, either, with choreography that expresses a witty yet respectful take on the Shakespeare play. Whether it was transforming Bottom into a donkey, and his subsequent comical pas de deux with Titania, having Puck swing down à la the cinematic Tarzan to commence his antics in the second act, or the strongly romantic pas de deux between Oberon and Titania, Scarlett’s interpretation brought the Mendelssohn score to life, matching movement masterfully to music.
   The music, too, saw RNZB musical director Nigel Gaynor go further than he typically has. Mendelssohn’s score was insufficient for a full-length ballet. Gaynor and Scarlett collaborated, choosing additional Mendelssohn pieces to give the characters greater depth and the story more completeness. Various opuses have been added along with incidental music, and Mendelssohn fans will recognize them and marvel at just how well they have been incorporated, not least how fittingly the choreography has been applied. It’s this characterization which marks out Scarlett’s work. The interactions between the characters—Oberon and Puck, Titania and Bottom, Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, and the comical pursuit by both Lysander and Demetrius toward Helena—gives the RNZB’s production exceptional entertainment value. Like its The Nutcracker of 2010, the dance techniques are rich enough for the adult ballet-goer to appreciate, while the structure and comical elements give children plenty to enjoy.
   Adding incidental music from Mendelssohn is not new—Balanchine did the same in his version—but the level of dedication is apparent.
   And all this before commenting on the dancing itself, which was exquisite.
   MacLean Hopper had the commanding nature of Oberon on opening night. Tonia Looker’s Titania had a beauty and elegance that never diminished even when dancing with a donkey, thanks to her control. However, Kohei Iwamoto arguably stole the show as Puck, with an irreverence that the audience loved. Harry Skinner’s Bottom may have had a relatively minor role but his transformation, complete with tail, ensured he was remembered. Lori Gilchrist (Hermia), Joseph Skelton (Lysander), Abigail Boyle (Helena) and Demetrius (Paul Mathews) contrasted each other’s emotions through simple movements; when both men are entranced by Helena, Boyle’s movements conveyed her shock at the energetic pursuit—accompanied by an equally energetic rejection of Hermia. Scarlett was never too clever for his own good: he kept to the story and the score, and delivered through the characters in subtle ways, a sign of a choreographer who works in close collaboration with his dancers.
   It was a privilege to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Wellington as a world première; after its New Zealand tour (which runs till September 20), it will next be performed by the Queensland Ballet, with whom the RNZB co-produced, in 2016.
   The Vodafone season of A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through August 23 in Wellington; Christchurch sees the ballet from August 27 to 29; it opens in Auckland on September 2, running to September 6. It reaches Rotorua for a single performance on September 10, Palmerston North on September 16, and Napier on September 19 and 20. Full details can be found at www.rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher



Top Promotional image for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Above Forget retro: the sketch for Oberon’s costume.

August 11, 2015

De Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi marks birthday with celebrity and royalty

Lucire staff/5.37

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Bruno Bebert


Courtesy de Grisogono

De Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi celebrated his 63rd birthday with 500 guests, including friends and family, at the Cala di Volpe Hotel on the Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, Italy on August 8. On the guest list were celebrities including Victoria Silvstedt, Margherita Marzotto, Barthélémy d’Ollone, Alessia Tedeschi, Simona Ventura, Elisabetta Gregoraci, Prince Emmanuel-Philibert de Savoie, Ventura Carraro, and Claudia Galanti, while Mika performed live in honour of Gruosi.
   The Cala di Volpe is where Gruosi likes to stay when not at the family residence, according to his company.
   The party had a central theme of love, with the words displayed in large lettering by the poolside. Said Gruosi in a release, ‘While in my opinion, every instant in life is reason to celebrate, there is one day that resonates in my heart and that is the day on which I was born. Since then, and every day, life has given me its most precious gifts—health, love, friendship and happiness. To me, to be surrounded by those I love and of whom I am fond is the best way to thank them and an act of love.’
   The cocktail party took place around the hotel pool, while a fireworks’ display led guests to the dinner. The after-party took place on the beach and ran till dawn.


















Bruno Bebert or courtesy de Grisogono

August 9, 2015

Footnote New Zealand Dance celebrates its 30th anniversary this August with première and events

Lucire staff/14.02

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Above Footnote at its home at 125 Cuba Street.

Footnote New Zealand Dance celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, and on August 28–9, it will première 30Forward at the Wellington Opera House to mark the anniversary.
   The première will take place in Wellington, before heading to the Christchurch Arts Festival, Auckland’s Tempo Dance Festival, then to Gisborne, the Kokomai Creative Festival in Carterton, and the Tauranga Arts Festival.
   The production features highlights from past works, as curated by founding director Deirdre Tarrant, and a new commission from choreographer Malia Johnston.
   Footnote will begin its celebrations on August 21 with The Art of Footnote, at a venue on Cuba Street to be announced during August. This exhibition shows posters, programmes and concept designs from Footnote over the last three decades, and runs till August 30.
   A Pecha Kucha event at the Wellington City Gallery, focusing on the culture of movement (covering dance, music, visual art and performance) takes place on August 27. The Tarrant Dance Studios at 125 Cuba Street, Wellington welcomes visitors on August 29 to an open house, while the August 29 performance of 30Forward will be followed by a function.
   The Christchurch dates are August 31–September 1; Auckland on October 15 and 17; Gisborne on October 21; Carterton on October 24; and Tauranga on October 30.
   Tickets are on sale now—visit footnote.org.nz for ticketing information.


Above Rehearsing in 2012.

July 29, 2015

Classic & Sports Car London Show gets an iconic poster by artist Tim Layzell

Lucire staff/13.55

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Motoring artist Tim Layzell was commissioned to create an artwork for Classic & Sports Car magazine’s inaugural London Show, featuring a Jaguar E-type, Bentley Speed Six and McLaren F1 at Alexandra Palace.
   The iconic sports cars are among those in a public poll for the magazine, where readers are invited to name the ‘Best British Car Ever’. Other cars in the running include the Mini Cooper S, the Range Rover, and Jaguar XKSS. The winner will be revealed at the Show at Alexandra Palace, from October 30 to November 1.
   The Show will also feature over 300 classic cars from world-famous collectors and retailers.
   â€˜It’s a real honour to be asked to produce a one-off piece for this amazing new event,’ said Layzell. ‘With such an incredible line-up of icons on the shortlist for the Best British Car Ever and such a stunning location as Alexandra Palace, this commission has been a motoring artist’s dream. I’m so looking forward to the event; with the experts from Classic & Sports Car behind it, it’s going to be a must-attend show.’
   Layzell’s image will be used on all marketing and promotional material for the event.
   Tickets are available from www.classicandsportscarshow.com.

July 23, 2015

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: a world première for the Royal New Zealand Ballet

Jack Yan/5.47

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not just a Royal New Zealand Ballet première, it’s a world première—so if you’re looking for a ballet event to attend in mid-August, this should be the one on your calendar.
   Created by Liam Scarlett, ballet’s fast-rising star who is now one of the most sought-after choreographers today, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will have its première in Wellington on August 20, before heading to Christchurch, Auckland, Rotorua, Palmerston North and Napier over the following weeks. As well as Scarlett’s choreography, it features the biggest set ever created by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
   Ipswich-born Scarlett, 29, is already known for his witty, inventive approach and is one of the most passionate choreographers in ballet today.
   He was the Royal Ballet’s first Artist in Residence, creating ballets for that company including Despite and Vayamos al Diablo in 2006, through to the Jubilee pas de deux to celebrate HM Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.
   He has created works for Ballet Black, New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet, K-Ballet, the English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.
   A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his third full-length ballet.
   â€˜We are incredibly excited to showcase this sensational new ballet created for the RNZB by the talented Liam Scarlett. This magical tale will cast its spell on audiences of all ages. And as with all the best stories, true love and friendship triumph in the end,’ said RNZB artistic director Francesco Ventriglia in a release.
   Said Scarlett, ‘Shakespeare’s tale of wit, love, petty quarrels and mistaken identities has captured the hearts of audiences young and old for centuries and has secured its place in history as one of the greatest stories ever told. It is with great pleasure and responsibility that I have the opportunity to transform this magical piece of work into a ballet. Being able to create this for the RNZB is a joy, and the end result will be a testament to their talent and enthusiasm and all that this wonderful company has to offer.’
   RNZB managing director Amanda Skoog notes that the company is partnering with the Queensland Ballet to realize the production.
   Tracy Grant Lord, known for Cinderella and many of the RNZB’s other successes, will design the new production, which the company notes will have ‘thousands of lights, glitter and butterflies.’ The make-up look sees Lord working closely with MAC Cosmetics, while Kendall Smith, who worked on Giselle, is lighting the set using over 4,000 LEDs and 2,000 m of fibreoptic cable.
   The Mendelssohn score will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in Christchurch, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in Auckland, conducted by RNZB music director Nigel Gaynor.
   Vodafone New Zealand continues its national sponsorship of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
   A Midsummer Night’s Dream begins in Wellington on August 20, and runs through August 23; Christchurch sees the ballet from August 27 to 29; it opens in Auckland on September 2, running to September 6. It reaches Rotorua for a single performance on September 10, Palmerston North on September 16, and Napier on September 19 and 20. Full details can be found at www.rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

May 28, 2015

Charitably chic: US events keep the focus on organic, eco and good health

Lola Cristall/4.10

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Direct from New Zealand, Trilogy, founded by sisters Sarah Gibbs and Catherine de Groot, introduced American consumers to their certified organic skin care line. Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil is claimed to be the Duchess of Cambridge’s go-to product. Trilogy’s US launch is a much celebrated endeavour using premium and wholesome botanical extracts, where a small portion is enough, without leaving behind residue.
   From Trilogy to Organic Spa Magazine’s New York City media event, in honour of Earth Day, it was all about natural beauty, inside and out. Invitees were welcomed to the 36th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, overlooking magnificent city views, where a number of high-end exclusive products and destinations were unveiled. Jade Yoga, founded by Dean Jerrehian, is recognized for its eco, lightweight and comfortable yoga mats. Shea Moisture, established in 1912 by Sofi Tucker in Sierra Leone, promoted the skin’s silky smooth texture with its line of shea butter products. Parissa introduced its waxing products made for all skin consistencies and hair types. Ananda in the Himalayas provided guests with an idea of their spa escapade with an Ayurvedic experience. NeoCell supported health, beauty and anti-ageing with a natural approach. California-based Aura Cacia displayed their 100 per cent pure essential oils. JUstenbois’ maple wood sets are perfect for the dinner table, with a hint of eco-friendly chic. Founded by Pierre Simard, the products of made in Québec from natural materials. Boiron, a prominent brand in France, presented its homeopathic products including ArnicareGel and calendula cream. Balanced Guru presented their organic, cruelty-free products, including their all-natural body butter. MyChelle Dermaceuticals is known for a selection of products made for glowing skin. Lather’s hair, face and body products are infused with naturally healthy ingredients, leaving behind soft and radiant skin. Nubian Heritage returned with an assortment of its distinguished line of skin care products.
   While it is important to monitor what product goes on the skin, it is just as important to examine what is consumed to ensure a healthy lifestyle. Aslihan Koruyan Sabanci presented her Gluten-Free Gourmet Cuisine cookbook and Health and Beauty Home Remedies book, guaranteeing a delectably healthy and tasty meal as well as a healthier approach towards looking better. The event covered skin care, food and spiritual inner healing. Other sponsors included Reserveage Organics, Incredible India, Chiva-Som Health Resort in Thailand, Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in San Diego, Napz, Rejuva Minerals, Immunocologie Skincare, Kimberly Parry Organics, Scotch Naturals, Buff Her House of Exfoliation, Emani Vegan Cosmetics, Babo Botanicals, EverclÄ“n and many more. Organic Spa Magazine along with its editor-in-chief, Rona Berg, emphasized how fashionable organic can be.
   Maven PR’s Alyson Dutch, was back with her prominent Consumer Product Event at Lowe’s Santa Monica. The Venice Room featured up to a dozen exhibitors. Kingston Technology presented its five-in-one Mobile Companion; Love Shawls showed off its two-in-one fashion statement, combining the elegance of a scarf with the appeal of a necklace; Bex’s decorative add-on shoe ornaments, designed by jewellery designer Sonya Ooten, exemplified personal style; Unselfish, by Paul Parkinson, highlighted individuals putting others first; Veestro, founded in 2012, is a vegan and organic food delivery service. Other exhibitors included the Thirst Project, a venture educating American students of the negative attributes in dirty water in South America, Africa and Asia. Other presenters included Simply Necessit-Ease, Slime, Lovera, Dealmoon and Blue Diamond. Eden Sassoon was present to talk about her campaign, #BeautyGivesBack, which permits the Thirst Project to be present at global hair shows, including the Paul Mitchell School.
   After three months of work to raise funds to support numerous charities, Paul Mitchell School’s 12th annual FUNraising Gala announced that $1·7 million was raised for a number of organizations including CAST, Cancer Schmancer Movement, Andrew Gomez Dream Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, Food 4 Africa, Gary Sinise Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Magic Johnson Foundation, Morris Animal Foundation, No Limits as well as the Thirst Project. Fran Drescher, Marie Osmond, Magic Johnson, Pauley Perrette and a number of other notable personalities, including the cofounder of the Paul Mitchell Schools, Winn Claybaugh, celebrated the success. Along with being considered a reputable school where avid learners attain a well-rounded education in technical skills and business knowledge, they are also apt at raising money to support a range of foundations.—Lola Cristall, Paris editor








May 27, 2015

Reasons to raise a glass as Stoneleigh, Mumm, Hennessy and Ardbeg celebrate around the world

Lucire staff/12.49

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Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Top Mark Ronson celebrates with Champagne Mumm in Monaco. Above Julie Nollet, Raphaël Gérard, Hervé Mikaeloff, Olga Kisseleva, Bernard Peillon, Laurent Pernot, and François Xavier Desplancke pose at the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Hennessy 250 Tour at the New Manege in Moskva. Below left The award-winning Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

Several wine and spirits brands have reasons to celebrate today. New Zealand’s Stoneleigh has received a gold medal at the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards for its Latitude Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014. This honour, from the world’s largest and most influential wine show (competing against over 10,000 wines), joins others than Stoneleigh has received lately, with the same vintage winning gold at the New Zealand International Wine Show and Easter Show Wine Awards, and a trophy at the Marlborough Wine Show.
   Maison Mumm, meanwhile, celebrated the launch of the world’s first digitally connected champagne bottle. And since Mark Ronson was in town, why not get him on board another yacht to DJ the event?
   When the cork is popped at the Formula One podium, a sensor sends a signal to the venue’s AV system, triggering the programmed entertainment. VIP guests at the event included Cara Delevingne, Poppy Delevingne, Eddie Jordan, and club owner Jean-Roch. Singtank, the duo of Ronson’s wife Josephine de la Baume and her brother Alexandre de la Baume, also performed.
   Ronson was asked to present the winning Mumm jeroboam to Nico Rosberg on the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix podium.
   The Hennessy 250 Tour has arrived at the New Manege in Moskva. This travelling art and culture exhibition, curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, in collaboration with scenographer Nathalie Crinière and Hennessy heritage expert Raphaël Gérard, celebrates Hennessy’s history and future, with archival materials, portraits and films. Artworks and installations by Xavier Veilhan, Pierrick Sorin, Constance Guisset, Tony Oursler, Charles Sandison and Anton Corbijn feature, while the Russian stop additionally sees Olga Kisseleva’s work, Dancing Spirit, and a contemporary dance performance by Farfor. The tour is open till May 30.
   VIPs at the launch include Maurice Richard Hennessy, Corbijn and Kisseleva, Gérard, Hennessy CEO Bernard Peillon, François Xavier Desplancke, Laurent Pernot, seventh-generation master blender Yann Fillioux, Interview Russia editor Aliona Doletskaya, and Tatler Russia editor-in-chief Ksenia Solovieva, Olga Karput, Sofia Zaika, Olga Thompson, Miranda Mirianashvili, and Museum of Contemporary Art director Vasili Tsereteli and his wife Kira Sacarello. The gala dinner was followed by a performance from stars from the Bolshoi Theatre and a tasting of the Hennessy 250 Collector Blend.
   Ardbeg celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, and marks the occasion with a grand Ardbeg Day on May 30, when Ardbeg “embassies” around the world hold a series of events. This year’s limited-edition Ardbeg Perpetuum will be present, and New Zealand, which will be the first to hit May 30, will hold its Ardbeg Day celebrations at House of Whiskey, 50 Courthouse Lane, Auckland; Regional Wines & Spirits, 15 Ellice Street, Mt Victoria, Wellington; and Whisky Galore, 66 Victoria Street, Christchurch.


















Victor Boyko/Getty Images

May 24, 2015

Cara Delevingne, Fernando Alonso, Poppy Delevingne, Mark Ronson on board TAG Heuer’s Monaco Grand Prix party

Lucire staff/10.38

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David M. Benett

It’s all on over in Monaco, as the Monaco Grand Prix gears up. TAG Heuer, a major sponsor whose logo has been seen for decades at the event, hosted an on-board party on Saturday, with brand ambassadors Cara Delevingne and Fernando Alonso.
   TAG Heuer, an official partner of the Automobile Club of Monaco, which originated the Grand Prix in the principality, hosted its party on board the SeaDream, moored in the harbour. Jean-Claude Biver, LVMH’s watch division boss and TAG Heuer’s CEO, held court, with Delevingne, Alonso, and the McLaren–Honda team, with which the watch brand has partnered for 30 years.
   Other guests at the event were Poppy Delevingne, James Cook, Ron Dennis, and Natalie Pinkham.
   TAG Heuer is promoting its McLaren Formula 1 watch to commemorate its three-decade-long partnership with the racing team; the Ayrton Senna Chrono special edition with the Legend steel bracelet, named for the late racing driver; the Cara Delevingne special edition; the Carrera Heuer-01 manufacture chronograph; and the Aquaracer 300M.
   TAG Heuer was the first watch-making brand to sponsor a professional driver, Jo Siffert, and it was worn by Steve McQueen on the poster of his film, Le Mans. Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Häkkinen, David Coulthard, Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have all worn TAG Heuer over the years and have taken the chequered flag at the Monaco Grand Prix. Its current campaign sees the hashtag #Dontcrackunderpressure, as part of its internal and external branding efforts.




















David M. Benett

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