Lucire: News


November 18, 2015

A masterful Graduation Season at the New Zealand School of Dance, with two world premières

Jack Yan/14.14

Stephen A’Court

Top Concerto, part of the New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season 2015. Above Sarah-Foster Sproull’s Forgotten Things, with the unfamiliar sight of a string of fists, waving in the space.

The New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season performances, which began tonight (Wednesday), are always a highlight. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work from second- and third-year students, and the six performances this year offer a very entertaining mix, especially for lovers of classical ballet.
   In previous years, the NZSD has put more contemporary dance on the menu, but the mixture in tonight’s programme was equally welcome. Paquita, the grand-pas, kicked off the evening, choreographed by Anna-Marie Holmes after Marius Petipa. The students showed immense promise, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see many of them dance professionally in ballet before long. Yayoi Matches, in the title role, and Yuri Marques da Silva, who hails from Brazil, danced the role of Lucien, increasingly captivated us during the performance. The costumes were hand-made by Donna Jefferis, assisted by the students of the Diploma of Costume Construction at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School, according to the NZSD.
   Forgotten Things took us to the other end of the spectrum with an incredibly inventive contemporary performance. With bare arms and hands, contrasting the black outfits worn by every dancer, we were exposed to unusual shapes: what does a string of fists look like as they wave in mid-air like the legs of a squid in the sea, or the hands of two dozen dancers opened out in antler formation? The idea behind the dance was to show cell division, phagocytosis and metamorphosis, translating the microscopic to human size. The beauty came from the fluid movement unusual shapes that we form with our arms, legs and hands when they are put together en masse, and we’d go so far as to say this was the cleverest dance of the evening. Sarah Foster-Sproull, a graduate herself, choreographed in her fourth commission, collaborating with the students: although trained in classical dance while at NZSD, she now choreographs contemporary dance, and, based on what we saw, very successfully. The second- and third-year students here gelled, and this dance showcased their coordination. The level of rehearsal in Forgotten Things, a world première, was evident.
   Cnoditions of Entry (the misspelling is intentional) was another contemporary première, and hugely enjoyable. NZSD alumnus Thomas Bradley (class of 2012), choreographed and provided the score made up of electronica and bass noises, and even designed the costumes along with Jefferis. Bradley’s notes indicate that the dance was in two parts: the first created a mutual understanding between them; the second conveying ‘exhaustion suspension apology and defeat’. It began in darkness, with orange-hooded, androgynous dancers huddled in a group. Abrupt movements, angular, backwards steps conveyed a confusion, as though the society that had been formed was suddenly devoid of structure or rules, feeling like the aftermath of war. Rectangular lights shone on the two sides of the stage as dancers struggled to move toward it, escaping their personal prisons; the term ‘techno-dystopia’ came to mind.
   Tarantella, a George Balanchine ballet with the masterful (and new father, with a one-month-old baby) Qi Huan as the répétiteur, saw us say at the conclusion of the pas de deux: ‘Hire these two now.’ Danced by Megan Wright and Jeremie Gan, this light-hearted yet passionate ballet needed the pair to master some very quick steps and changes of directions, and while inspired by Neapolitan street dance, the foundation is classical. It is not an easy ballet but we couldn’t fault either Wright or Gan.
   Playing the game of contrasts in the programme, the contemporary As It Fades, originally commissioned by T.H.E Dance Company of Singapore and created by Kuik Swee Boon in 2011, was an energetic performance, and showed what the dancers were capable of, with strong, purposeful movements, accompanied by the strings in Max Richter’s ‘Jan’s Notebook’ and ‘November’, which painted a world struggling to understand itself. The tension sharply vanished at the end where a dancer was surrounded by the others, caught in a chair, exhausted, breathing heavily, conveying that notion of defeat and solitude. As the performance ended, the Richter score did not feel out of place in a bleak science-fiction film from the turn of the 1970s, with credits rolling as a dancer walked off-stage into the darkness, making us wonder what lay beyond the abyss. It was very clever, and got us ready for the final performance.
   That final performance was Concerto, an abstract ballet choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan after he joined the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, with a musical score by Dmitri Shostakovich (many audiences will know his work not from ballet but from the theme tune of Reilly: Ace of Spies; this was his ‘Piano Concerto No. 2 in F’), that premièred in 1966, staged here by Lynn Wallis and coached by Stephen Beagley. Two pianists provided the Shostakovich score, while the 29 NZSD dancers were resplendent in yellow, orange and red, in costumes courtesy of the Australian Ballet. How could one not feel upbeat? The three movements began with the allegro, the corps de ballet doing a well coordinated en pointe, with Yeo Chan Yee and George Liang as the central couple performing some very skilful, quick turns. By this point the classical dancers were all in the swing of things, and there was not a single hesitation as Concerto moved to the andante and a romantic pas de deux from Lola Howard and Jerry Wan, before the final movement that opened with a beautiful solo from Georgia Powley before the ensemble brought the performance to a spirited, optimistic close.
   The Graduation Season runs till November 28 at the New Zealand School of Dance at at Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington, New Zealand. Each performance is at 7.30 p.m. except for Sunday and Monday; matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 22 and Saturday, November 28. Tickets are NZ$33 for adults, NZ$25 for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more, and NZ$18 for children under 13. Bookings are available online.Jack Yan, Publisher

Stephen A’Court

Top New Zealand School of Dance student Yuri Marques da Silva. Above Georgia Rudd and Christopher Mills.

Amber Griffin

October 24, 2015

Samantha McClung crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2015 at Skycity Theatre

Lucire staff/13.29

Alan Raga

Bhikhu Bhula

Alan Raga

Top The newly crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2015 Samantha McClung. Centre Crowning moment: Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 Rachel Millns crowns her successor. Above Miss Universe New Zealand 2015 Samantha McClung is flanked by runner-up Hannah Henderson (left) and second runner-up Gabrielle Manaloto (right), in gowns by Golden Gowns.

Samantha McClung was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2015, before a packed crowd at the Skycity Theatre, and an international audience watching the live stream at
   McClung, 20, lives in Christchurch but spent many years of her childhood in the Marlborough Sounds. She is a qualified make-up artist who has worked in both Australia—McClung lived in Perth for 18 months—and New Zealand.
   McClung was overjoyed by the crowning but admitted it hadn’t fully sunk in.
   The title was decided by both an international judging panel and the voting public, with 50 per cent determined by each group.
   Special guest judges Ben Chan of Bench, one of the Philippines’ premier fashion labels, and MJ Lastimosa, Miss Universe Philippines 2014, flew in to Auckland to spend several days with the 20 finalists, in interviews and watching them perform live on stage. Both had the advantage of having met the finalists as part of their overseas retreat, which this year took place in the Philippines with the generous support of Bench, the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Tourism Promotions’ Board.
   They joined New Zealanders Megan Alatini, Steve Broad and Evana Patterson on the judging panel, whose scores were tallied alongside those of the voting public, who had been sending their votes since August. A sixth judge, Areena Deshpande, was unable to attend after giving birth last week.
   In addition to the crown, McClung drives away with the premier prize of a Honda Jazz RS Sport Limited, which is hers for the duration of her reign, as well as prizes from Bike Barn, New Face Laser and Cosmetic Clinic, Lipidol, Beau Joie champagne, and others.
   Presently McClung is spending the night at the Skycity Grand Hotel as part of her prize.
   She beat surf instructor Hannah Henderson, originally from the Bay of Plenty and now resident in Wellington, and mental-health nurse Gabrielle Manaloto from Auckland, who came second and third.
   McClung will now go on to represent New Zealand at Miss Universe in the United States later this year.

October 1, 2015

Ikea extends itself into fashion: you read it here first last year

Lucire staff/23.16


September 29’s Ikea Fashion Show at Moda di Milano (hashtagged both #IKEAfashion and #IKEAtemporary) showcased work from two designers who collaborated with the Swedish-founded furniture conglomerate.
   ‘With a number of new collections that have been developed in collaboration with fashion designers, Ikea is stepping into new territory—one from which we can learn a lot,’ according to the company.
   Giltig by Katie Eary and Svärtan by Martin Bergström will see their collections retailed in 2016, but they received a boost in profile thanks to their appearance at one of the top fashion weeks in the world.
   For us, the first thing that came to mind when seeing Ikea fashion was Stefan Engeseth’s (below right) prediction, published in Lucire first last year, and later in, the Daily Mail, The Guardian and Flare, plus a number of newspapers and news websites: that fashion should be Ikea’s next industry.
   At the time, Ikea had no such plans officially, but it isn’t surprising to see another one of Engeseth’s predictions come true. He came up with the idea of Coca-Cola being served through taps at home before Coke itself actually trialled that idea, plus another, over 15 years ago, on how cellphones could connect two strangers, albeit not through an app.
   We wrote: ‘Engeseth says that Ikea’s expertise lends itself easily to the world of apparel …
   ‘He believes that fashion is in a repetitive cycle, stuck in history and needing renewal.
   ‘Ikea could offer both complete apparel items and composite parts that customers could assemble themselves, says Mr Engeseth. The parts could be “tailored” at home in inventive ways without the need for complex sewing.’
   Last year, Lucire publisher Jack Yan added, ‘This taps in to its existing fan base, and just as importantly, Ikea can make full use of its channels, outmanœuvring many existing fashion labels. Ikea has an international retail base and it has distribution down to a fine art.’
   When we asked him about the Ikea show in Milano yesterday, he had his reservations about some of the designs, but stated, ‘It’s good that Ikea takes its first step into fashion, and rewarding to see them developing the concept more now.’
   He was also buoyed by seeing that, after the show, Ikea’s official Twitter account went back to his blog post late last year about Ikea fashion, and “favourited” a Tweet about it. Engeseth even preempted the hashtag used back in 2014.
   There’s no sign that Ikea fashion will be in a composite format, ready for its customers to assemble, but Engeseth appears to have been right that the brand would extend itself into the new segment.

August 18, 2015

Fan Phenomena: James Bond gives 007 fans more; while Sugoi invites you to the world of Bill Murray

Jack Yan/12.09

In the year of a new James Bond movie, many books emerge. Invariably, there’ll be one on the films themselves, taking readers through the 50-plus years of the Eon Productions’ series, and, if it’s very comprehensive, the 1950s CBS TV version of Casino Royale, the 1967 spoof of the same name, and Never Say Never Again will rate more than a mention. There’ll be something about Ian Fleming, and another book on one aspect of the Bond world (gadgets, stunts, music, or something else). Seasoned Bond fans will think the circus is in town again, because the new book about the films adds little to their existing knowledge.
   Claire Hines’s Fan Phenomena: James Bond, from Intellect Books (£15·50, US$22, releasing November 15), is something different altogether: Bond from an academic and completely cultural viewpoint. Intellect is famous for its titles on popular culture and creative practice, with a rigorous academic bent, and Fan Phenomena: James Bond continues the series but takes the reader into the world of Ian Fleming’s super-spy.
   Hines serves as editor, and there are 11 very distinct contributions to her volume, dealing with everything from canonicity to 007’s appearance as ‘Ladykiller Jimmy’ in Alan Moore’s comics; Bond as a cult brand and cultural phenomenon to the clothes he wears; from the James Bond films through a feminist viewpoint to analyses of his masculinity and identity. Interspersed between these are four ‘Fan Appreciation’ sections, featuring an interview with über-fan and former Bond novel continuation author Raymond Benson, artist and collector Peter Lorenz, 007 Museum owner James Bond (who had his name legally changed by deed poll) and cross-players CousinCecily and Winter.
   Even the most seasoned Bond fan might not have considered the impact of the character, books and films, and the book fulfils a very important role: it gives them something new. William Proctor’s analysis of continuity gets the book off to a healthy start after Hines’s introduction, though typographically it suffers: the type is inexplicably small, though the layout is modern and the visuals help lift things. Getting Raymond Benson in there early on also helps position Fan Phenomena: James Bond as a book for the cognoscenti as well as those who want an academic examination, and Benson reveals a little more behind the scenes of his years as the official continuation author.
   Matthew Freeman, in considering the many media in which Bond occupies, including the gaming world, shows just how the phenomenon breaks the established rules and succeeds, while Jesús Jiménez-Varea and Antonio Pineda’s chapter on Moore’s comics is bound to take many fans into uncharted territory. Joshua Wille’s chapter on fan edits does the same: while many know about ABC-TV’s cutting of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when it aired on US TV, but there are numerous fan edits made in the digital era that had this author hunting the forums.
   Artist Peter Lorenz’s Bond film posters are stunning and present a nice visual break before Lucy Bolton’s chapter analysing the phenomenology of Bond. Bolton’s piece is perhaps closest to those Bond “collectable” books that come out with the films as she analysed the films from Dr No to Skyfall, and fans may have their own interpretations of their cultural significance through the years. Editor Hines’s own chapter looks at Bond as cult brand, and is fascinating in her study of the 1960s Eon films. Hines reconciles how cult and mainstream come together with the Bond series, successfully. Lisa Funnell gives Bond a feminist slant and the enjoyment she derives as an assistant professor teaching women’s studies.
   Stephanie Jones looks at the Bond lifestyle but primarily through the analysis of one work, The Complete James Bond Lifestyle Seminar, which she reveals is relatively light on Bond references, leading to a less satisfying chapter—though it could hardly be blamed on Jones. Llewella Burton’s chapter on Bond and fashion, and how it became a style through the rise of merchandising as the movies became blockbusters with Goldfinger is punctuated by photos from Galeries Lafayette as it opened a James Bond boutique in 1965, again gold dust for Bond fans. Karen Brooks’s and Lisa Hill’s chapter analyses the new and old masculinities through the three Daniel Craig films of 2006, 2008 and 2012.
   Crossplayers CousinCecily and Winter talk about their love of James Bond and Q, leading neatly on the final chapter by Elizabeth J. Nielsen, which deals with Bond’s homoerotic moments and subtexts. She traces them to Fleming himself in the torture scene in Casino Royale, before covering the flirting between Bond and the new Q in Skyfall, which itself has a phenomenon, attracting both women and the LGBTQ community.
   This is a volume for the intelligent Bond fan, someone who appreciates learning about the impact of Ian Fleming’s creation. Of course the films are covered more, as it was through them that Bond became a global phenomenon. The reader walks away having been better informed: this is not a Bond book for the light reader who wants reassurance of the facts they already know, but one which gives them something more satisfying to consider.

Top A scene from What About Bob?, by Jon Boam. Centre Lost in Translation, by Grace Danico. Above Lost in Translation, by Henry Kaye.

On a briefer note, but still tied with film, Sugoi Books has released an A5 book called Cook Your Own Food: a Bill Murray Scratch and Sniff, retailing at £6. There are 20 pp., with 10 smells, with some stunning illustrations, with artists reinterpreting key moments from Murray’s films, focusing on his culinary habits. ‘Scratch the smelly pads at the top right and enter the world of Bill Murray,’ the publisher asks, and you are spoiled with scenes from Lost in Translation, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day, What About Bob?, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and others. For £6, the illustrations are so good it doesn’t even matter if you have a poor sense of smell.—Jack Yan, Publisher

July 23, 2015

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

Jack Yan/5.47

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.
   ‘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—Jack Yan, Publisher

July 21, 2015

Loxy’s brings its hair expertise to Wellington, New Zealand

Jack Yan/23.30

Loxy’s Boutique opened its Wellington location on Tory Street earlier this month, with a pink-carpet event hosted by founder Kate Jarrett.
   Jarrett, a Wellingtonian by birth, originally opened Loxy’s in Auckland, where she and her husband had moved. After years in the corporate world, she found she had a passion for hair extensions, and learned a micro-weave technique that she trained herself to do. She swears by the technique (and was a fitting ambassador for it on the night), enough to have started her salon in Ponsonby, and always had in mind to open up in her home town.
   She was encouraged to open in Wellington after her clients began asking whether Loxy’s had a branch in the capital, and the boutique finally opened its doors with a very welcome mid-winter celebration.
   As Jarrett was expecting a baby (carrying her daughter very well), naturally guests could choose from San Pellegrino water (restocked midway through the event) but those who were more adventurous could opt for Sileni wine and Rekorderlig cider. Canapés from Jess’s Underground Kitchen were served, while visible around the boutique were products from Loxy’s suppliers, including O&M and Davines. Guests were treated to goodies from them, as well as Libertine blends, Eleven Australia, Tailor Skincare, Snackpack, and Skin Spa.
   Oliver Marchant, already well known in the Wellington hair scene, manages the new boutique, which offers both hair services—including its well known micro-weft extension technique, as well as spray-tanning. Hair extension consultations are free, and its services are very reasonably priced for the level of expertise clients will get. There’s more at—Jack Yan, Publisher

May 22, 2015

Superb and deeply meaningful: the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute: Remembering WW1 impresses

Jack Yan/12.27

Ross Brown

Above Dancer Joseph Skelton in the core image used for Salute: Remembering WW1.

Three years in the planning, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute: Remembering WW1 commemorated the Great War in a memorable, respectful, and meaningful way, with a mixed programme that saw two world premières tonight.
   Gareth Farr’s specially commissioned score for Andrew Simmons’ Dear Horizon opened proceedings, with what could be described as a cinematic theme with a strong melodic base as the action unfolded on stage. Tracy Grant Lord’s backdrop, of barbed wire barriers used in World War I, loomed over dancers lying on the stage, as a lone ballerino walked among them. Lighting came on gradually, Jason Morphett’s design using shadows and darkness to build tension. This sombre start gave way to a beautiful, haunting and contemporary choreography, with an underlying bleakness, as Simmons highlighted the loss suffered in war. Costumes were grey, further emphasizing the sense of despair and focusing us on the dancers’ movements. The solo cello by Rolf Gjelsten gave a sense of minimalism that contrasted other elements of the brassy, powerful Farr score. While composed for the ballet, and only complete with the action, it’s not hard to imagine the work released on its own for lovers of ballet and cinematic scores.
   An all-male cast of twelve followed in Soldiers’ Mass. The genius behind Jiří Kylián’s choreography was how it conveyed emotion: a highly energetic and graceful ballet where the dancers move in a unified way, into battle constantly, pulling each other from the front and yet, still confronting, then falling to, the enemy. The score, by Bohuslav Martinů, set to the text by Jiří Mucha, was played back, and one scene sees the men lip-synching proudly to the Czech lyrics, yet with a sense of what they knew would follow. The ballet finishes as it started, with 12 backs to us, each dancer dropping his shirt in another representation of death as well as the annexation of the Sudentenland by Hitler in World War II. Shirtless ballerinos, incidentally, seemed to elicit greater applause from the audience as they took their bows. This restaging was by Roslyn Anderson, who had helmed the 1998 RNZB production of Soldiers’ Mass, with lighting design by Kees Tjebbes.
   After the interval, Johan Kobborg’s Salute injected comedic moments into a classical ballet, set to the score by nineteenth-century composer Hans Christian Lumbye. It saw the return of live music after the recording in Soldiers’ Mass, performed by the New Zealand Army Band. These skilful musicians adapted themselves easily to the lighter atmosphere, with Sgts Riwai Hina and David Fiu, and Pvts Joseph Thomas and Tom Baker rearranging Lumbye’s music to the Band. Natalia Stewart’s costumes (jackets with epaulettes for the men, red peplums and plenty of tulle for the women) shone on stage in a very cheerful ballet involving different sets of dancers, highlighting different aspects of love, from shyness and confusion to overconfidence and partnership; as well as the inevitable farewells as men went off to war.
   The battle vignette, with the General leading the charge, was equally enjoyable, interspersed with the long waits the women endured back home, before the conclusion as the soldiers returned home. Created for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2010, Kobborg intended it to be a reflection of what happens when young people come together; the RNZB dancers showed their expressiveness in a ballet that injected a light-heartedness to the evening. Salute was staged by Florica Stanescu, with Morphett again behind the lighting design, with a brightness and cheer in contrast to his earlier work.
   While the RNZB often picks the cheery production number to end on, it chose Neil Ieremia’s Passchendaele, a world première, which gave this reviewer initial fears that the infamous battle would leave audiences on a down note. The fear was unfounded, because of the scale of Ieremia’s ballet, involving 19 dancers, and the superb execution in dance of this tragic battle, notable for being the day on which more New Zealanders had died or had been wounded than on any other day. Dwayne Bloomfield, formerly of the New Zealand Army Band, composed the score, which the band performed: the moments of martial music signalled the flawed advance by the New Zealand Division under Gen Haig. The dancers moved with great pace at times, in groups, on- and off-stage, representing the power of the soldiers and artillery, through impossible conditions. At other moments they recalled memories of home, contrasting with the loss that families suffered. Geoff Tune’s backdrops, in red and black, signified the blood on the battlefields, and his first one hinted at skulls, shifting gradually to other scenes of burned trees and desolation. The end of Passchendaele was chilling, after the soldiers each fell, their loved ones releasing them, as knocks were heard around the St James, representing the messenger bringing home to 845 New Zealand families the worst news they could receive.
   Ieremia was ingenious in how his choreography brought so much emotion and energy to the performance that the house was left in admiration. The message was indeed cautionary, telling us about the human tragedies of war, but the RNZB and the NZAB brought it to life with such conviction that Passchendaele received the greatest applause of the evening. It was a high note after all, but one that was more absorbing. Salute: Remembering WW1 is a superb programme, and a fresh way of appreciating the messages in the ongoing centenary commemorations of New Zealanders fighting ‘the war to end all wars.’—Jack Yan, Publisher

Salute has been supported by the Lottery Grants Board, New Zealand Defence Force, Qantas, the Göthe-Institut, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, national sponsor Vodafone, and Pub Charity. Dates are May 22–4 in Wellington; May 28–30 in Christchurch; June 3 in Dunedin; June 10 in Hamilton; June 13 in Takapuna; June 17–20 in Auckland; and June 24–5 in Napier. The Royal Ballet will feature the UK première of Passchendaele in November. Further information can be found on the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s website at

May 18, 2015

Karst is the New Zealand School of Dance’s most innovative season yet

Jack Yan/13.09

Stephen A’Court

Top New Zealand School of Dance third-year contemporary students. Above Latisha Sparks, William Keohavong and Jadyn Burt.

The New Zealand School of Dance always puts on a stellar performance, especially with its final-year class, but Karst, its Choreographic Season for 2015, adds some unexpected and welcome twists, and puts audience members into the performance, at least during the first half.
   Arriving at Te Whaea, you’re aware something is different: instead of the waiting area that you’re accustomed to, there’s blackness. The auditorium, meanwhile, has become the new waiting area, with TV screens showing the final-year students’ faces in the centre, and the tables moved within. As the show started, we were escorted to the catwalk above the plaza, where the show takes place.
   Wind over Sand (See below) gives you a different perspective as we viewed this from above, or on the stairwell, and there was some getting used to seeing a performance while standing. However, this didn’t detract from the enjoyment at all, and, as it turned out, Wind over Sand was simply a prelude to the cleverer and more entertaining numbers that were to follow. Audience members in wheelchairs were wheeled to ground level and watched from there, but would have had the same appreciation we did.
   Felix Sampson, one of the class of ’15, motioned us comically to come down from the stairs, surrounding the stage, where Jadyn Burt danced to Exhibit: J, using a single box as her prop, positioning herself on each side as she explored it.
   Seated at what would be our vantage points for the rest of the evening, Samuel Hall and Jag Popham began their number stood at different corners of the set, one motioning ever frantically while the other stood still. Without Regard contrasted movements and styles as the pair moved closer on stage.
   Another seamless segue, as bright lights shone from the end of the building, and we were into Volume, set to Planningtorock’s ‘Public Love’, with the notes asking, ‘If you could live in that place every day? Think of the possibilities.’ But, like some of the performances in Karst, those possibilities had a catch, the choreography signalling the old adage of, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ (Manifest) the Subliminal, similarly, strikes at the idea of balance, with backgrounds moving, essentially reiterating that the universe is structured the way it is for a reason. Upset that balance, and there is chaos. Loscil’s ‘Esturine’, with its repetitive rhythms and crackles contributed to an airy, almost lonely effect.
   Fragile Mortalities was the first number that blended visual effects as each dancer brought out a television screen with their face on it, looking cheerful, yet each began revealing their insecurities more and more, performing their internal collapses. In a similar world of paranoia, You Are My, set to the Harry Roy arrangement of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ saw cheer erupt each time the music started, but the despair soon strikes one dancer, then more and more, in different forms; words displayed at the back of the set disintegrated from hopeful to hopeless. At this point, one wondered if this reflected concerns students had about their lives in 2015; after all, who are better insights into the Zeitgeist, and more focused on the future than those who have settled in their careers?
   The 79 Bonnie Special brought the mood up slightly with the background video showing what appeared to be an old cassette-recorded programme. A tribute to New Zealand singer Connan Mockasin, using his song ‘Do I Make You Feel Shy?’, this was a comedic take, with Georgia Rudd donning a silk gown and shades, and lip-synching into a microphone, perhaps telling a tale of fleeting fame and the low-rent world that some inhabit, thinking they are on the A-list. Again, it seemed to be on the pulse of where popular culture is, in what might be deemed a post-reality-show world. Such shows still air, but in terms of the cycle, are they beyond maturity?
   Unfortunate Help, with Jessica Newman and Latisha Sparks in the main roles, see the dancers together with lengthy cardboard tubes, but pulled apart, others’ attempts at rejoining failing to unite the pair, who also fall into their darkness. At its end, Rowan Rossi emerges on stage, curious about the state of affairs, and we hear Sampson utter complete sentences for the first time, beckoning others to go as he and Rossi begin Only in Istanbul. Sampson narrates the piece, joking about Rossi and providing personal details about him, and the two come to dance in unison. Only in Istanbul is described as ‘A rigmarole’ in the programme notes, and the description fits: the movements are expert, but the story culminates in ‘Istanbul, Not Constantinople’ and the entire cast reemerges for Absent Ritual, a number that leaves Karst on an upbeat, positive note.
   Te Aihe Butler’s music, which is at the fore in Absent Ritual, actually comes through in many of the numbers, and is the effective, unseen uniting force behind Karst. It deserves special mention.
   Taken together, one does have to ask: where are society and culture today? Are we in times where we are leaving some of our citizens behind? What is the value of fame if it lacks fulfilment? If the students, who choreographed the works, are forcing us to ask these questions, then they have succeeded.
   The season is directed by Victoria Colombus, an NZSD graduate, and is the most innovative Lucire has reviewed at the venue. Colombus rightly used the space to great effect, and we hope that there will be future performances there. Removed from the traditional shape of the auditorium, the students made very effective use of their new stage, and the architectural structure helped give a scale beyond what the auditorium offers.
   Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School students worked on the lighting, which also showed a youthful passion combined with professionalism, while Donna Jefferis’s costumes were the icing on the cake.
   The season runs at Te Whaea in Newtown, Wellington, till May 23, with tickets from NZ$12 to NZ$23. Bookings are available at—Jack Yan, Publisher

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