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April 17, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s CoppĂ©lia expertly executed at every level

Jack Yan/13.46


Royal New Zealand Ballet


Evan Li/Royal New Zealand Ballet

Top A publicity photograph from the Royal New Zealand Ballet for Coppélia, with Swanhilda, Franz and Coppélia. Above Kohei Iwamato as Franz and Lucy Green as Swanhilda from the premiÚre.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s CoppĂ©lia, which opened in Wellington on Thursday, is a lovingly designed and staged production that will suit family audiences.
   Set in a mountain village in Hungary, the RNZB’s production of CoppĂ©lia retains its well known storyline and period setting, with beautiful sets and costumes. The work of the late, award-winning designer Kristian Fredrikson is particularly poignant in the second act, inside Dr Coppelius’s house, where his seven very distinctive automatons, as well as CoppĂ©lia, rest. Two incomplete mannequins hung from the top. The third act, with the wedding scene, is another testament to Fredrikson’s design ability, evident through the villagers’ and Franz and Swanhilda’s wedding costumes. Jason Morphett’s lighting lifted the story, making it easy to follow—and it was the second act, too, with its moody atmosphere, where his work shone.
   Martin Vedel, ballet master on CoppĂ©lia, stayed true to the core of the story, with classical and folkloric dances playing out the plot. The energetic divertissements in the third act were perfectly performed. Vedel was, according to his notes, aware of the pre-modern, romantic period in which CoppĂ©lia was created, and sought to retain its beauty, but tightened up the storyline and more clearly portrayed Dr Coppelius—performed by Sir Jon Trimmer, who first danced it for the RNZB in 1964—as a social outcast.
   The 21st-century touches are, then, in the theatrics of the performance rather than the look and feel, although the limbless, faceless automaton, beautifully performed by Paul Mathews, could feel at home in science fiction to modern audiences.
   One cannot help but smile at the performances—after all, CoppĂ©lia is a happy, comedic ballet, and we noticed that the children on opening night enjoyed it as much as the adults. Lucy Green and Kohei Iwamoto were the well cast leads tonight, as Swanhilda and Franz respectively, dancing their roles expertly—and deservedly receiving standing ovations from some of the audience. Unsurprisingly, Sir Jon received similar acclaim, and Joseph Skelton as Zoltan, both in his emphatic solo and his dance with Katherine Grange as Ima, brought immediate reactions as well as loud applause at the end.
   Orchestra Wellington faithfully performed the LĂ©o Delibes score.
   After Wellington, CoppĂ©lia tours to to Palmerston North, Invercargill, Dunedin, Napier, Rotorua, Takapuna, and Auckland, with the season ending on May 31 inclusive. Further information on dates and venues, as well as booking, can be found at the RNZB website.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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April 14, 2014

We still want our MTV: the Secret Room celebrates the great outdoors

Elyse Glickman/9.35

A decade ago, the MTV Movie Awards was Young Hollywood’s kick-off party to summer. In more recent years, it became the unofficial Oscar season “after-party” with its strategic move to April. That said, the pre-MTV Movie Awards festivities planned by Rita Branch and Amy Boatright of the Secret Room (which made the SLS Hotel’s Garden Terrace a ‘Secret Garden’, for all intents and purposes) ended up being a great summertime kick-off anyway, thanks to a myriad of fantastic, healthy and environmentally friendly must-have products for the forthcoming summer months.

   It is also fitting that their cause cĂ©lĂšbre this time around was California Wildlife Center (above), a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife. The Center fulfils this environmental operative by providing expert medical and rehabilitative care, community outreach and education, habitat protection for animals running the gamut from bobcats and mountain lions to birds and reptiles. Since 1998, CWC has experienced a steady increase in animal patients, caring for more than 32,000 wild animals, and in the process, educating communities, homeowners, teachers, students and businesses about protecting California’s environment.
   While requisite awards’ show glamour was provided by Terani Couture and coloured diamond jewellery from Leibish & Co., and 2Xist was back with its wildly popular upscale watch collection and colourful summer socks, there were also many stylish and sensible products for wardrobe and home sure to keep celebrities, trend-setters and even their pets cool throughout the summer—figuratively and literally.
   With sunglasses and the perfect summertime bag being on the top of everybody’s shopping list, it was impossible to miss the vibrant bags from Lola Blue, beautifully crafted from upholstery fabric in colour combinations that ran the gamut from neutrals with pops of colour, to more daring bags that captured a variety of moods, from a southwestern colour palette to eye-catching pastel hues. Which one to pick? That’s a tough one, but I opted for the Shea, a hobo style just big enough for an Ipad, camera and wallet. Long Beach-based Kahoy, created by Ralph P. Santos, offers a small but stunning collection of sunglasses and prescription frames hand-made from bamboo, textured wood and tasteful plastics. It was challenging to select among the line’s 12 retro-chic styles. While I went with the aviator-inspired Boracay with in tortoise, I wavered between those and the prescription Makati frame.
   Baylee Nasco offered pet beds and blankets that would probably have dogs and cats in a similar quandary, with their soft fabrics and beautiful colours. And while foodies would agree the Takeya Flash Chill Iced Tea Maker is an attractive accessory for summertime home entertaining, picking a flavour of tea is another thing, or six to be exact (Classic Black, Tropical Black, Fresh Green, Green Mint, Hibiscus Pomegranate and Coconut Lime Rooibos).
   So much to choose from. However, Rita and Amy also made sure they featured plenty of great products that stood on their own. These included Aviva Hair revitalizing supplements, tank tops from the new LATS clothing line launching May 9 in Los Angeles, SteelSeries Professional Gaming Gear (after all, there were boys in the room!), Shame on Jane jewellery by Kimberly Pauly, Coquette Lingerie and Herbalosophy Shampoo.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor











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March 11, 2014

Jameson Irish Whiskey shows limited-edition bottle for St Patrick’s Day 2014

Lucire staff/10.22

In the spirit of St Patrick’s Day 2014, Jameson Irish Whiskey will release its fourth limited-edition design bottle, this time the work of illustrator Dermot Flynn.
   Flynn was inspired by the sights and sounds of Dublin, and his illustration features a pub, statues, monuments, and humorous Irish sayings.
   Jameson says the limited-edition bottle is a must-have for those who love Ireland and the Irish character. Says Kathryn Love, Jameson’s marketing manager in New Zealand, ‘In addition to its smooth, balanced taste, one of the things that whiskey fans around the world tell us they love about Jameson is its intrinsic Irish character. Jameson embodies the down-to-earth character of Dubliners so with this new limited edition, we wanted to bring that to life and celebrate the great city which inspired John Jameson to make his now iconic whiskey for the first time over 230 years ago.’
   The limited-edition bottle retails for NZ$64·99 from March 17, 2014 at selected outlets, while stocks last.

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March 4, 2014

Royal New Zealand Ballet artistic director Ethan Stiefel to leave September 1

Lucire staff/9.13


Bill Cooper

In a surprise announcement, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s artistic director, Ethan Stiefel, has said he will leave the company on September 1.
   Stiefel has been with the RNZB since 2011. Under his artistic leadership, the RNZB has enjoyed record-breaking seasons, including 38,000 tickets sold for the Vodafone season of Swan Lake in 2013. His production of Giselle, created in collaboration with Johan Kobborg, was the subject of a feature film. The company also toured China in its 60th anniversary year in 2013, and the US last month, receiving very positive reviews. Under Stiefel, the RNZB increased its number to 36 full-time members (up from 32), while the standards have also risen. During his tenure, Nigel Gaynor was appointed musical director.
   In a release, Stiefel said, ‘Since 2011, I have enjoyed growing alongside the RNZB, and I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to live and work in New Zealand. Despite how rewarding the experience has been, it has proved difficult on a personal level to be so far away from family and friends. Furthermore, the distance has also made it challenging to explore other professional projects that have been presented to me, without taking too much time away from the company. For these reasons, I will be leaving the RNZB on September 1st. I cannot thank everyone in the organization enough for their support, and I look forward to seeing the company continue to evolve and achieve great things.’
   RNZB chair, Candis Craven, said, ‘Ethan has made an incredible contribution to the RNZB. It was his vision and energy that most impressed us when we interviewed him for the role in 2011 and he has delivered that in spades, and so much more.’
   Programming is in place through to the end of 2015, including two world premiĂšres.
   Stiefel’s last season will feature Allegro: Five Short Ballets, which opens in Auckland on July 30. Stiefel’s fiancĂ©e, Gillian Murphy, who is the RNZB’s principal guest artist, will dance in Allegro. The RNZB says it hopes to continue its association with her in the future.
   CoppĂ©lia, now in rehearsal, will premiĂšre in Wellington on April 17.
   A new artistic director is expected to be appointed by September 1.

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March 3, 2014

WOW-ing them at the Luxe

Elyse Glickman/11.01


Elyse Glickman

The rooftop of the Luxe Hotel is a genius spot to plan a pre-award show event. Once again, veteran event planners Mark and Matthew Harris of WOW! Creations and Roger Neal booked the space hoping to continue their respective winning streaks with celebrities and VIPs against a 360-degree backdrop of Beverly Hills. However, when storms blew through town, a suite with an open roof patio may not be the most inviting. That said, these event planners’ past track records are so solid that their events are still going to be must-dos on the pre-Oscar week party circuit.
   Matthew and Mark Harris had a clever edge, bringing out the kid in everybody. The entry to the suite at the Luxe Beverly Hills’ entrance in itself was an event, with balloons, a pre-packed goody bag of treats and a greeting from Hollywood clown and author Jason Lassen, opening out to a “circus” theme that was three rings of beauty, wellness, and good taste on the roof (in the literal sense, with several artisanal spirits being poured to take off the winter chill) and a sideshow in a second-floor suite showcasing more sensory delights: Vance Family Soy Candles (de-light-ful, delicious and calorie-free bon-bons), a set of Pamper Me Organically skin care products from Toronto, Canada, and for the sports fan, BubbaGlove pom-pom gloves with all Los Angeles sports teams represented.
   Melissa Fego’s delicate natural stone droplets in earring, necklace and bracelet form brought a touch of elegance and formality to the occasion as did floral-scented Brville candles, medical-grade skin care from Love My Body and sweet-smelling travel kits and a beautiful tote bag from Florida-based Pura Botanica, which raises money for the Loggerhead Marine Life Center. You could also start your post-Oscar health resolution with a month’s supply of vitamins from GliSODin Skin Nutrients.
   The setting may have been celebrities under the Big Top, including Miss California, USA and Miss California, Teen USA, legendary NASA astronaut Dr Buzz Aldrin, Steven Rice, James Dumont (my former high school classmate), and Zacary Heinz-Erg, all tied to major Oscar-nominated projects, but there was a grown-up aspect to it via the wonderful artisanal liquors, from ParaVi’s dessert wine in chocolate-covered bottles, to Four Roses Whiskey to Bainbridge Organic’s gin, to delicious cinnamon bun and vanilla vodkas by Five Wives from Ogden’s Own Distillery to a blissful sip from dairy-free Kkada Sutra Caramel Liqueur.
   With everybody in high spirits, the next logical step was to head to the Luxe Beverly Hills’ restaurant for a brimming bowl of Chef David Padilla’s tangy and soothing tomato soup and truffle fries.




Elyse Glickman

Earlier in the week, Roger Neal and his team treated VIPs to a variety of on-site treatments such as SunLounge Studios spray tans, designer gowns by the Netherlands’ Addy van den Krommenacker and loans of red carpet jewellery by Erin Fader. VIPs were sent home with a bag of skin care product by G. M. Collin and hair styling tools by ISO Beauty. There were also hair care products by Olez Hair, integrating apple stem-cell technology in all their products, Muchachomalo hand-painted underwear and leggings, and pants and camis by Marena made with medical grade compression fabric. A former presidential chef was on hand with comforting German and Austrian fare. (Who knew a knish could be so gourmet, or so welcoming on the eve of a big storm?)
   Although her suite was moved from Circa 55 (where we later enjoyed an incredible dinner) to the Bar 210, the unflappable and ever resourceful Debbie Durkin charged forward with a more intimate version of her stalwart “eco” Oscar event. While Voss Water and Maya Tequila provided liquid refreshment, New Zealand-based lighting company WakaNine (with US distribution through its Austin, Texas office) set the tone and the cool mod-style for the space. The soul of the event was the Say Yes to Hope charity. Vendors showing their wares included local boutique LA + Jo, classic Will Leather bags, Eye by Panoptx glasses, and to bring it all home, BeautiControl skin care and a handy tote bag with millions of pockets (love!).—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor



Elyse Glickman

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March 2, 2014

A good day well spent for a million better nights

Elyse Glickman/12.16


By selecting the Taglyan Complex, just across the street from the Motion Picture Academy Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, planner and fellow journalist Kathy Duliakas assured her pre-Oscar gathering would be a hot ticket for celebrities and journalists. However, with a mix of intrepid entrepreneurs, a civilized lunch, a relaxed atmosphere and a significant charity’s new initiative benefiting thousands of disadvantaged American children, she created a daytime “pyjama party” that was both thoughtful and memorable.
   Invited celebrities, entertainment professionals and press were strongly advised to donate to the Pajama Program, overseen by founder Genevieve Piturro and LA chapter president Lindsay Smith, to jump-start the new 1 Million Good Nights campaign, to attain a million sets of new pyjamas and books by December 31, 2015. To further accelerate the campaign, Carter’s, America’s leading brand of young children’s clothing, agreed to donate a brand new pair of pyjamas to Pajama Program, for every celebrity who attended the event and another 1,000 pyjamas for each and every social media post about the event. (Naturally, we were on board with our Tweets in force).
   Attendees heard the call and responded, as the one-day event generated nearly 550 Tweets and garnered over 5,100,000 timeline deliveries, which will result in some very deserving children given a brand new pair of pyjamas.
   Duliakas responded in kind, noting that in the heat of awards’ season, ‘We all get caught up in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but it’s very important we remember there are those in need. It’s heartwarming to see the overwhelming support that I’ve received from the celebrities who attended my event.’
   The various new and returning vendors were also caught up in the spirit of generosity that far transcends products and services. One of the more inventive sponsoring products, Circuelle, a luxury lotion that transforms the practice of breast self-exams into a more pleasant experience, was so inspired by Carter’s pledge that they wanted to donate one mammogram to an underprivileged woman for each celebrity who stopped at their table. As a result, Circuelle donated 50 mammograms to the Conejo Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks, California.
   Our favourite stalwart lines helping out several suites this season were back: Twisted Silver, with more of its new natural stone pieces and modern cameo necklaces, sleek cocktail attire from Single by Galina Sobolev, and Maleku Jewelry with extraordinary rough precious stone statement jewellery that would have you rethinking diamonds as your best friend. Other casual clothing lines that focused on comfort include New Orleans-based PrĂȘt-Ă -Porter Designs, Wear Luck yoga wear from Dallas, Texas, and BAM Bags, which seemed to have the audience seeking non-leather handbags zipped up.
   New and compelling indulgences for the body included skin care from event co-sponsor Zensation, state-of-the-artlight therapy from Dream Spa (now available in Studio City, Calif.), sensual new couples’ delights from Kama Sutra, organic body care from Herban (including the coveted Sugar Mud facial scrub) and Yuki Sharoni’s hair care (one of the pioneering salons bringing Asian hair straightening to Hollywood).
   Besides the sumptuous Mediterranean fare from Taglyan’s Divine Food & Catering, there were other treats that included KAH Tequila, Zing Vodka, non-alcoholic Skinnygirl Sparklers and insanely delicious hand-crafted chocolate from Ze Chocolate Lady that brought some of the biggest trends in gourmet chocolate from Europe to southern California, but in her own all-American way.
   Celebrities having a good day, and helping children attain better nights in the future included Kelsey Scott and Ashley Dyke (Oscar-nominated for 12 Years a Slave), Emily Bergl (Oscar-nominated for Blue Jasmine), Dustin Kerns (Oscar-nominated for The Wolf of Wall Street), Craig Borten (writer for the Oscar-nominated Dallas Buyers’ Club), Crispin Struthers (Oscar nominee, Best Editing, American Hustle), Helen Hong (Oscar-nominated for Inside Llewyn Davis), Cas Anvar (Diana, Argo), Brighton Sharbino (True Detective, The Walking Dead), Marilu Henner, Gia Mantegna (Empire State, The Prince) and Lyndon Smith (Parenthood).—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor




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Behold: the Vionic woman

Elyse Glickman/5.54



When I was a little kid, Jaime Sommers, a.k.a. the Bionic Woman, was my idol. Although we all cannot be Jaime Sommers (and in reality, may not want to be), we can all be Vionic women, as I learned upon an invite to visit the West Hollywood fitness studio of celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska to view the complete line of Vionic shoes and go home with a pair of “red carpet” red walking shoes. The sandals and loafers, for lack of a better pun, are flat-out fabulous. Lots of nice designer details, from leopard prints and patents in attention-getting colours, to silhouettes that promise to keep you comfortable all day without looking as if you looted your hippie aunt’s stash of Birkenstocks and orthopédic oxfords.
   The cheerful red walkers everybody went home with did have a fun, street-chic vibe to them. I wore them to work the next day, and was delighted that my feet, and the rest of the legs, felt pretty good from 7.45 a.m. to 3 p.m. The job literally keeps me on my toes, and the way it is padded (like a several hundred dollar orthotic built into a shoe), felt particularly good.
   The science behind the style can be traced to Australian podiatrist Phillip Vasyli. The Vionic Innovation Lab (VIL) is an unparallelled collaborative of world-renowned authorities with a common vision: to enhance foot health and advance affordable, innovative technologies that help feet and legs function at their very best. Over his years in practice, Vasyli has witnessed the biomechanical effects of overpronation (the excess rolling of the outside of the foot to the inside). To address the problem, in 1987, he introduced the Vasyli custom heat-mouldable orthotic, a fast, low-cost solution and vast improvement over previous—and more expensive—treatment options. This led to the 1991 invention of the globally acclaimed Orthaheel, the world’s first and only true orthotic available without a doctor’s prescription.
   Orthaheel orthotic inserts and sandals quickly expanded through Australia and the UK, and the company’s 2007 US market introduction was received with great enthusiasm and commercial success. It also did not hurt that Dr Andrew Weil, integrative medicine guru, and Juliet Kaska have advanced its cause. To bring it further, the red-carpet shoe press event also served as an official kick-off to the third annual Walkabout Campaign, where those who attain the shoes and make a pledge to attain better health will receive 28 days of fitness tips from Juliet Kaska and healthy recipe ideas from Dr Weil. The contest is open to the public, and a grand prize winner will be selected at the culmination of the campaign, based on participation, to win a Red Carpet Ready weekend where they will be flown to Los Angeles to train with celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska at JK Zen Fitness in West Hollywood. The winner will also receive Vionic footwear, athletic wear and fitness gear to begin their personal health journey.
   For more information, or to sign up, visit www.vionicshoes.com/2014-walkabout-signup.—Elyse Glickman, US West Coast Editor















Nicole Greenberg

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February 28, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s triple treat in New York

Lola Saab/23.47


Evan Li

Above The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Gillian Murphy and Qi Huan.

Martha Graham once said, ‘Dance is the hidden language of the soul.’ The famous American modern dancer and choreographer’s perspective of dance lives on, especially when watching immensely passionate dancers take centre stage. They rely on their bodies to tell a story, disregarding the use of words, to articulate a tale. Sir Jon Trimmer, a New Zealand ballet dancer, has expressed himself on stage since the age of 12. Numerous other talented ballerinas continue to convey their talent and flair for people to enjoy, capturing the mind, body and everlasting spirit.
   The Royal New Zealand Ballet came together in 1953 thanks to Royal Danish Ballet principal dancer, Paul Gnatt. After more than two decades, the Royal New Zealand Ballet came back to North America to provide viewers with a graceful treat. From Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, to Minneapolis and New York, they brought such elegance to the stage under Artistic Director, Ethan Stiefel. The bright lights glimmered on the Royal New Zealand Ballet at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea in New York City. February 12, 2014 marked its New York dĂ©but, presenting a brilliantly unforgettable evening with a three-part performance, providing everyone with their personal coup de cƓur. Each dancer shared a beautiful story with their powerful body movements, elegant hand gestures and expressive faces that induced smiles, curiosity and engagement from one spectator to the next. They demonstrated their aptitude in various ballet techniques without simply focusing on the classics. Dancers included Qi Huan, who joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2005, and Gillian Murphy, the guest principal dancer. They had both starred in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2012 production of Giselle, which was co-produced by Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, moving with nobility and charm.
   The first feature, entitled 28 Variations on a Theme by Paganini (2005), was choreographed by Benjamin Millepied with traditional ballet movements flowing to music by the famous pianist and composer, Johannes Brahms. The classic rhythm and serene atmosphere expressed a sense of tranquillity as the male and female dancers flowed to the tempo moving away from the simple pirouettes and ever-so tender plies, but setting the scene with sudden runs and swift leaps. The prospect brought a bit of the traditional steps into the 21st century, embracing classical dancing methods. Females wore luminous hues, adding a dab of colour reflected from the light that shone from the single chandelier, a solo feature focusing its radiant glow on every dancer’s stride.
   The next scene presented Of Days by New Zealand native Andrew Simmons, a choreographer, designer and former Royal New Zealand Ballet member. The piece, created in 2013, was flawless and stunning to watch. Silent interludes created spectacular tension, waiting for the next move to follow. Mirroring effects brought an extravagant image to the eye, as a result considerably flamboyant expressions came to life. Various international composers were on the playlist including Ludovico Einaudi, Olafur Arnalds and Dustin O’Halloran, expanding the options of music and allowing each personality to reveal their inner talents. Simmons’ work left spectators mesmerized.
   From Brahm’s classically traditional piano skills to percussionist Yim Hok-Man’s expressive Chinese drums pulsating through the speakers, there is a sudden transition as audience members are left to admire the dancers’ extraordinary skill in Banderillero. According to each gesture, dancers fight for their lives as a bullfighter would fight for his. The drums acted like a pounding heart frightened of the unknown outcome, expressing a sense of sheer excitement. Choreographed by Venezuelan choreographer, Javier de Frutos, the spectacular Spanish bullfight had the venue yearn for an encore as the dancers were given a well deserved standing ovation for their intense speed, incredible ability and impressive performance.
   The Royal New Zealand Ballet left audiences with an exceptionally marvellous treat. As they continue their international tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2015, New York anxiously waits for their return.—Lola Saab, Paris Editor

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