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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 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.

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

April 6, 2016

New Zealand photographers examine human impact in New York City exhibition

Lucire staff/13.39





Above, from top: Andrew B. White: Single Tree Fog. Claire Price’s L’Enfer VI. Jonathan Pilkington: Piopiotahi 1 & 2. Nichola Clark: Merania.

With opening night tonight, the Ora Gallery at 51 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10011, is showing Anthropocene Vision: Photography by Four Artists, exhibiting works by four New Zealanders: Nichola Clark, Jonathan Pilkington, Claire Price, and Andrew B. White.
   The images show ‘nature and interiors that conceal—or reveal—vestiges of a human presence,’ noted the gallery. Anthropocene refers to our present era, one where humans have had a permanent impact on Earth. The works being shown attempt to ‘capture, influence, understand, and form a spiritual connection with the world we inhabit.’
   Each photographer covers a different part of the main theme, with Clark exploring land and belonging, looking at Hiruhārama, New Zealand and the Ngāti Hau people, Pilkington examining the relationship humans have with stone; Price studying how humans can manipulate and destroy nature; and White photographing Prospect Park in New York as he studies an urban park and the human presence concealed within his images.
   The exhibition runs till April 29.

April 5, 2016

Royal New Zealand Ballet announces world première of The Wizard of Oz

Lucire staff/12.08


Ross Brown

The Royal New Zealand Ballet released more news about its much-anticipated première this year of The Wizard of Oz, conceived by its artistic director Francesco Ventriglia.
   Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, the ballet will be in two acts and will stay true to the source material.
   It began its life in Firenze in 2013 as a one-act ballet but was never performed. Ventriglia took the opportunity to re-create it for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, with the music of French pianist and composer Francis Poulenc. Poulenc’s style is melodical, with the production using the music from his jazz age, earlier in his career. Ventriglia says the score is ‘a greatest hits of Poulenc,’ compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters.
   Said Ventriglia in a release, ‘This story is very close to my heart. I loved it as a child and feel that it holds many truths that are too easily forgotten or overlooked in adulthood. I’m delighted to choreograph this ballet for my New Zealand dancers and to have its world première in New Zealand—my new home.’
   He added, ‘Each character has their own dance vocabulary—classical pointe work, barefooted contemporary ballet, and even some ruby slipper tap dancing.’
   Sets and costumes were designed by Gianluca Falaschi in Italy. Ventriglia said, ‘There’s tutus for the porcelain world, Munchkins in 1930s-style bathing suits, bare-chested flying monkeys, butterfly-gowned Good Witch, exaggerated bustle and black corset for the Wicked Witch and of course loads of green sequins, red glitter and gingham.’
   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.

April 3, 2016

Gala honours Naomi Campbell, with guests Lena Gercke, Catherine Hummels, Eva Padberg, Franziska Knuppe

Lucire staff/12.49




Gisela Schober

Gala magazine in Germany celebrated its 20th anniversary Spa Awards at the Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, awarding the best names in the cosmetics and hotel industries.
   Supermodel Naomi Campbell was named Beauty Idol of the Year, with the judges citing her various careers in modelling, acting and authoring, and her support of social projects.
   A Special Prize was awarded to Prof Michael Braungart, founder of environmental consulting institute EPEA and a supporter of conservation and the cradle-to-cradle principle.
   Other awards went to Givenchy for its Le Soin Noir Masque Dentelle (Luxury Concepts award), Dr Grandel for Beautygen Renew Body (Innovation Concepts), Weleda for Skin Food Hautcreme (Cult Concepts), Skinceuticals for Metacell Renewal B3 (Men Concepts), Börlind for Beauty Shots Intensiv Konzentrate (Organic Concepts), Clarins for the Art of Touch (Treatment Concepts), Royal Mansour of Morocco (Luxury Hotel City–Resort), and the Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru (Innovative Spa Concepts).
   Guests at the event included Eva Padberg, Stephanie Stumph, Ursula Karven, Catherine Hummels, Julia Dietze, model Lena Gercke, Dagmar Kögel and her daughter Alana Siegel, Jochen Llambi and Motsi Mabuse, Jorge Gonzalez, Franziska Knuppe, Stefan Konarske, Lisa Martinek, Erol Sander and Caroline Godet, Jochen Schropp, Carolina Vera and Birthe Wolter. Barbara Schöneberger was MC and singer Philipp Dittberner performed live at the event.
   Other sponsors included BMW, Cadenzza, Emcur Bio Matcha, Fabletic, Moroccanoil, Pommery, Talbot Runhof and Und Gretel.

























Gisela Schober, Axel Kirchhof

March 5, 2016

Finding the Upper East Side’s far eastern haute cuisine at Philippe by Philippe Chow

Lola Cristall/10.38



Philippe by Philippe Chow, located on the Upper East Side in New York City, radiates with elegantly modern, yet simple, décor. The cozy setting welcomes guests into an elongated dining area in a slightly boisterous surrounding. For a quieter dining experience, a separate, private, serene room awaits guests. Lit candles glimmer within the romantic backdrop as hints of red underline the scene.
   Chow’s Beijing-style cuisine, with a modern twist, demonstrates his haute culinary skill. Dishes can be accompanied by a tasty cocktail, a delicate wine, or a delectable martini. Whether a whole steamed fish of the day with a simple soy sauce alongside minced green scallions and ginger vegetables, appetizing chicken satay, crisply luscious glazed pecking duck with house-made pancakes, delightful lettuce wraps, deliciously steamed shrimp, vegetable dumplings or crispy scallion pancakes, each dish explodes with intense flavours. While appetizers and main course are divine, the desserts are just as exciting. Pastry chef Kostas Paterakis presents a number of sweets to choose from, including a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing and dark chocolate layer cake. The pastries are mouthwatering and heavenly, both beautifully accompanied by a delicious raspberry sauce.
   Chef Chow has over three decades’ worth of cooking expertise, since his teenage years in Hong Kong. Since 2005, he has been sharing his culinary skill, revealing his knowledge and know-how amongst New Yorkers, celebrities and many notables. Guests can look forward to haute cuisine with dishes that reveal the chef’s close attention to detail, in the complexity of taste to a marvellous presentation.—Lola Cristall, Paris Editor






February 27, 2016

Gala Italia: New York gets a taste of the best Italian wines

Lola Cristall/2.33



The 31st edition of Gala Italia certainly proved to be a lavish, elegant and classy event at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The Italian Wine & Food Institute’s (IWFI) event combines delectable wines with good food amongst enjoyable company. Chef Ashfer Biju and pastry chef Michael Mignano served enticing dishes with appetizing, high-end ingredients, paired with a selection of nine different wines ranging from sparkling to deliciously sweet, each intended to revive the senses. The variety of wines were: 2006 Ferrari, Riserva Lunelli, Trento DOC; 2014 Planeta, Chardonnay, Sicilia IGT; 2013 Tenuta Santa Caterina, Silente delle Marne, Monferrato Bianco DOC; 2011 Marchesi Antinori, Villa Antinori Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva; 2008 Tenute Lunelli, Carapace, Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG; 2008 Condè, Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Riserva; 2007 Mezzacorona, NOS Teroldego Rotaliano DOC Riserva; 2012 Bertani, Villa Arvedi, Amarone della Valpolicella Valpantena DOCG; and 2011 Sorrentino, Fior di Ginestre, Passito IGT Pompeiano. They provided various tastes for different palates with immensely flavoured textures to accompany the five-course menu, including a cheese platter.
   Ferrari’s Riserva Lunelli, made using a traditional method called metedo classico evoked succulent flavours in one sip. A bouquet of savoury aromas erupted while sipping on delectable Tenute Lunelli’s Carapace, appropriately accompanying a tasty citrus semolina olive oil cake.
   Roma-based Eredi Pisanò’s menswear fashion collection featured a number of pieces as the company toured the Grand Ballroom to introduce guests to sophisticated ensembles. As the intimate crowd continued to indulge in a delectable meal in the midst of this exquisite ambiance, a select few, who had contributed to the victory of Italian wine in the US, were recognized for their work and honoured with an award by the IWFI’s president, Lucio Caputo. Vittorio Assaf and Fabio Granato (the Serafina Restaurant Group), Sirio Maccioni (Le Cirque), Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW (the president of the International Wine Center), Florence Fabricant (a New York Times food writer), John F. Mariani (a food and wine editor and author) and Adam Stru (founder and chairman of wine enthusiast companies), were recognized for their contributions to the wine industry.—Lola Cristall, Paris Editor

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