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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

Mary Tyler Moore’s most famous TV shows altered lives for the better


NEWS  by Jack Yan/January 26, 2017/12.38


Jack Yan

You’re going to make it after all When visiting Minneapolis many years ago, I photographed the now-famous statue of Mary Tyler Moore doing the “hat toss” from the credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

When I asked my colleague Nathalia Archila to write an obituary for Mary Tyler Moore, it reminded me of an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Mary Richards’ boss, Lou Grant, asks her to update obituaries as part of her job. It seems there are plenty of links in my life to The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a show I grew up watching.
   I have a connection with the show as a fan: I once ran the biggest email list for the series and its spinoffs. Called The Mary & Rhoda List, it was a place where other fans could discuss their favourite moments and keep up to date with the stars. It was originally run with a bunch of addresses, before I shifted it to Egroups, which later became Yahoo! Groups. For many years now, while I’m still listed as the admin, it’s been run by Sandy McLendon, a US-based fan.
   The list did catch the eye of co-star Valerie Harper, who one year sent me a nice autographed copy of her book for Christmas, along with a wee note. It was an acknowledgement of a job well done. But when Facebook and social media became the norm, the group became much less frequented.
   But why did this show have such an impact? In the 1970s, there was the backdrop of feminism, and watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show did give me the notion that women should be treated as equals to men. An underlying feminist theme existed in many of the episodes, and the absence of pay parity was directly addressed in one of them. I was too young to have noticed the references to Mary spending the night at a boyfriend’s or the fact she was on the Pill, but what I did see as a child was a Mustang-driving woman who had an independent life and a nice apartment. Why couldn’t all women do what they wanted and not be subject to what society dictated? Perhaps it appealed to my nonconformist mindset, something which I’ve had my entire life.
   I can’t be the only middle-aged man today who gained some awareness of feminism and equal rights through this show.
   I might have even gained the notion of working in the media through The Mary Tyler Moore Show—after all, plenty of people became comedy writers after seeing The Dick Van Dyke Show—and, perhaps to a similar degree, Tabitha (think The Mary Tyler Moore Show if Mary Richards was a witch living out in California).
   In reruns I discovered the snappy writing and directing of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and when you compare it to the shows that had just gone before—The Beverly Hillbillies comes to mind—it was realistic, urban and sophisticated. American films had become more gritty around that time, and television followed. While somewhat idealized, and certainly not as downbeat as All in the Family, the successful US remake of Till Death Do Us Part, you could associate with the characters. You simply couldn’t on the other show about a Texas oil millionaire living in Beverly Hills. Showing it to my other half tonight, she remarked at how little it had actually dated: there still isn’t pay parity for women, for instance, and women over 30 are still under pressure from society and, sometimes, family, on whether they will get married and have kids. I worked out that this show aired 47 years ago, and 47’s a lot nearer to 50 than it is to 40. Half a century and we’re still not giving women their due.
   It’s a show I have enjoyed regularly, including its reruns in the late 1990s, though, interestingly, its most acclaimed episode, ‘Chuckles Bites the Dust’ (1975), isn’t my favourite. I even had the 2000 TV movie, Mary & Rhoda, recorded by friends in the US and air-mailed over here, though it was such an appalling production that I wondered if it was worth the trip.
   Again in reruns, I became a fan of The Dick Van Dyke Show. I wasn’t born during that show’s original run; instead, I had seen van Dyke and Carl Reiner’s later effort, The New Dick Van Dyke Show. And Dick van Dyke, of course, was the silver-haired man giving us fire safety messages on New Zealand TV then, presumably adaptations of US PSAs.
   The Dick Van Dyke Show gave us a look at an extremely fun job—that of comedy writers—but there was also plenty of romance between van Dyke’s Rob Petrie and his screen wife, Laura, played by Moore. Maybe that, too, was idealized, but I see elements of that in my own relationship—that if you’ve got to keep it going, you need to inject some fun. I saw myself as a Rob Petrie kind of guy, and I might never have watched the earlier show if it wasn’t for Moore’s involvement.

continued below





Jack Yan

Above, from top: Sign at the Mary Tyler Moore Table at Basil’s. The Mary Tyler Moore Table at Basil’s at the Marquette Hotel. Where the exterior shots of Mary Richards’ first house were filmed, at Kenwood Parkway. The Midwest Plaza, where the fictional WJM-TV was located.

   Naturally, when I was in Minneapolis, the setting of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I stalked the locations of the house used in the exterior shots of Mary’s original apartment, had a jog along the Lake of the Isles, snapped a photo of where the fictional WJM-TV was, as well as visited the statue of Moore on Nicollet Mall (once Nicollet Avenue) that commemorates her "hat toss" in Reza S. Badiyi’s opening credits for the sitcom.
   I headed to Basil’s at the Marquette Hotel for lunch and sat at what is now called the Mary Tyler Moore Table—Moore sat at this table with an unnamed actor in later versions of the credits—and, naturally, I got there by Ford Mustang, the same make and model of car she drove in the show.
   When Moore’s death was announced this morning here, it gave me time to reflect on just how big a part her work had played in my life. And how the messages of her ‘two Camelots’—two highly successful, much-watched TV series—resonated with me in different ways.
   The last time I saw Moore on TV, she was in a sitcom that co-starred Betty White, Hot in Cleveland. It reunited Moore with Harper, White (who was the sexually charged Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Georgia Engel and Cloris Leachman (Georgette and Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show). The fact she’s now gone means we won’t get these surprise reunions any more. However, we can still wander down memory lane, and her work is widely available on DVD.
   As we wandered in this piece, what we probably should be aware of is how hard-fought the victories of the feminist movement were. We must also realize, particularly in Moore’s own country, how there are forces prepared to undo them: their presidential elections evidenced this, with men and women quite divided on whom each group chose. Some would rather see us go back to the past, to an era even before the Petries. However, progress must continue, as we’ve more to gain from diverse voices—yet another message I recall from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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


NEWS  by Jack Yan//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.

Special features to kick off Lucire’s 20th anniversary year


NEWS  by Lucire staff/January 5, 2017/10.31


Paula Sweet

Above: Stanley Moss heads to Punta Ala in one of his best travel pieces to date. Click here to read it.

Welcome to Lucire’s 20th anniversary year.
   Remember that if you don’t see a news update (which will come with an RSS update), you can go to the main part of the website and check out our features.
   In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had Lola Cristall’s 2017 living guide; an archive interview with Thor director Taika Waititi; one of Stanley Moss’s best travel pieces to date, on five Italian centres, and another on Flemings in London; Elyse Glickman heading to Seoul, and Jack Yan testing the Mazda 3, or Mazda Axela. We’ve also looked at a natural skin care range, Kokulu, and made our picks from the spring–summer 2017 shows from New York Fashion Week.
   And, of course, there’s our print edition: issue 36 features stories on Delikate Rayne and author–filmmaker Leslie Zemeckis, and it’s a particularly strong issue on female power. Never mind the outcome of a certain country’s election: as Bhavana Bhim writes in the opening feature in issue 36, women have been increasing their power throughout the ages.
   Expect to see more of our Golden Globes’ suites coverage with Elyse Glickman this weekend in the news section, and more fashion, beauty, travel and living features through January.

Dragonfly launches this season’s must-have cookbook at Mojo St James pop-up venue


NEWS  by Cecilia Xu/December 7, 2016/18.25



Dragonfly has been a local favourite in Wellington Central since it opened: it’s the perfect bar to chill out at after work on any day of the week, even better on a Friday. It’s the spot to hit in the weekend, whether for fine dining or distinctive cocktails. It boasts a spacious and expansive breadth of contemporary environment in its indoor, bar, and outdoor garden seating. The atmosphere is beautifully constructed and decorated, which is what makes it such a magnetic regular spot for the locals, and a gem for the newcomers. It’s subtle, too, with no brash lighting or signage cluttering up its Courtenay Place location.
   Dragonfly’s mixture of modernity, with rustic Asian influences, romanticism and relaxation matches its cuisine perfectly. This is reflected in the launch of their début cookbook, featuring the restaurant’s name on the cover—Dragonfly—Asian Dining Lounge—but referred to as the Dragonfly Cookbook. After years of successful cuisine perfectionism and experience, the book is a compilation of Dragonfly’s finest recipes, credited on the cover to brother and sister co-owners Brent Wong and Tania Siladi, with copy by Siladi and her daughter Jenna. Aided by a copious number of beautiful photographs and food imagery, by restaurant manager Ginny Maddock, who is a trained photographer, the book draws you to want to either dine at Dragonfly, or begin your own rustic Asian food adventure and exploration.
   The book has been painstakingly art-directed, and lavishly printed in Wellington, New Zealand; and priced at NZ$55. Wong explains that they won’t be making much on the book—and once time is factored in, the price will barely cover the cost. However, they see it as a way to share Dragonfly’s expertise. The Dragonfly Cookbook is available at Moore Wilson’s and online at www.orient-nz.com/dragonflycookbook.
   Due to the recent 7·8 Kaikōura earthquake that also affected Wellington, Dragonfly was one of the many businesses and stores closed for safety reasons. However, nearby Mojo in the St James Theatre just metres away has opened its doors for regular night time pop-up openings of Dragonfly. To see many of their regular customers quick to attend this as well as their book launch event on Tuesday night reflects how well Dragonfly is liked and respected by many in the capital, and perhaps a little change in operating venue may be great for the Christmas season.—Cecilia Xu; with Jack Yan, Publisher


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

Tania Dawson crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2016 in front of sold-out audience


NEWS  by Lucire staff/September 3, 2016/15.41




Alan Raga

Above: The moment: Tania Dawson hears the news that she’s been working toward for most of 2016, that she is the new Miss Universe New Zealand. Centre: After the announcement, Samantha McClung crowns her successor, Tania Dawson, Miss Universe New Zealand 2016. Above: Second runner-up Larissa Allen (left) and runner-up Seresa Lapaz (right) flank Miss Universe New Zealand 2016 Tania Dawson.

Secondary school drama and music studies’ teacher Tania Dawson, 23, was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2016 Saturday night at Skycity Theatre, taking home prizes including a stay at Plantation Bay Resort & Spa in Cebu, Philippines and the use of a Honda Jazz RS Sport Limited for the duration of her reign.
   Dawson, who is of half-Filipina extraction, was also the crowd favourite, with a large group of supporters in the live theatre audience.
   The event proved to be a Filipina one-two, with Seresa Lapaz, who was born in the Philippines but is a naturalized New Zealander, coming runner-up.
   Both ladies hail from Auckland, while second runner-up Larissa Allen comes from Tauranga.
   Dawson was crowned by her predecessor, Samantha McClung, who flew from Christchurch to join 2013 titleholder Holly Cassidy in a special parade featuring the exclusive designs of Ankia van der Berg of Golden Gowns.
   The sold-out audience enjoyed entertainment from special guest performers Stan Walker, Frankie Stevens, and Ali Walker, as well as the cast of Oh What a Night!, who appeared in a recorded segment filmed earlier on Saturday.
   The destination for Dawson, as well as the other national titleholders, is uncertain, but there have been suggestions it could be the Philippines, and already Lapaz has vowed to support her former competitor should she venture there.
   Dawson says she sees herself as an advocate for education, and entered the competition because she wanted to practise what she preached: to challenge herself and overcome any self-doubt.
   Repeating their roles from last year, Stephen McIvor and Sonia Gray hosted. Stevens was also on the judging panel (particularly appropriate given his similar role in NZ Idol), alongside motivational speaker and social practitioner Areena Deshpande, director of Head2Heels and former Miss Universe New Zealand director Evana Patterson, AJPR boss and BRCA cancer gene awareness champion Anna Jobsz, and arguably the top make-up practitioner and educator in New Zealand, Samala Robinson.
   Thanks to the support of Miss Universe New Zealand’s sponsors, including platinum partners Honda New Zealand, Bench, Skycity, the Quadrant Hotels and Suites, Golden Gowns and Beau Joie, and the fund-raising efforts of each year’s finalists, Miss Universe New Zealand cracked the $100,000 barrier with its donations to Variety, the Children’s Charity, this year.
   The stream was carried on Lucire, The New Zealand Herald and Stuff, and a delayed version will appear on 3Now.

A renewed energy for the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Giselle


NEWS  by Jack Yan/August 11, 2016/14.51


Stephen A’Court

Every opportunity to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Giselle is a renewed pleasure. First performed in 2012, and garnering a great review from this publication for its outstanding choreography and production. Conceived in Wellington four years ago by then RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel, with Johan Kobborg, Giselle has become one of the company’s signature ballets, performed in China, the US, the UK, and Italy.
   What was astonishing was being able to enjoy Giselle as though we had never seen the 2012 première: there was a freshness about the latest performance, despite our being familiar with the story. On opening night, Qi Huan, who had retired from the RNZB to teach at the New Zealand School of Dance, returned to take up the role of Albrecht, which we saw him perform in 2012. The years since his 2014 departure haven’t diminished his skills one iota: the ballerino still has a star quality that places him a cut above so many, and his entrechats in the second act showed the power and grace that we have come to expect from someone who has mastered his craft. Also performing Albrecht on other occasions is Daniel Gaudiello, former principal dancer of the Australian Ballet, who is similarly acclaimed.
   Lucy Green took the title role on opening night and it was her youthfulness that gave Giselle a fresh take; the drama of Giselle descending into madness in the first act was so well done that one couldn’t help but sympathize with her character’s pain. Her pas de deux with Huan were exquisite and romantic.
   Also of note was the extensive pointe work by the Wilis in the second act, which demonstrated that the RNZB remains on top of its game.
   Jacob Chown’s Hilarion and Mayu Tanigaito’s Myrtha deserve mention in supporting roles: the dancing by both performers was integral to the story and Chown’s battle with the Wilis was emotionally done; Tanigaito kept the pace of the less plot-driven second act going with intricate skill till we saw what had happened to Giselle and Albrecht. Tanigaito also plays Giselle in performances where Gaudiello is Albrecht, and it’s not hard to see her take on the role with aplomb.
   Stiefel returned to Wellington to fine-tune the production, working with his successor, Francesco Ventriglia, who was responsible for the casting of Huan and Gaudiello.
   Marc Taddei conducted Orchestra Wellington, also giving the performance a new energy, performing the full-length score by Adolphe Adam. He will also conduct the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra when Giselle reaches those cities.
   Giselle opened in Wellington on August 11, before touring to Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Rotorua, and Palmerston North, where the season concludes on September 9. Full details are at the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s website, rnzb.org.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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