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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 15, 2014

Open season on European tourists

Lucire staff/11.31


Hugh Llewelyn/Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence

The season for extra vigilance is upon us, as tourists gear up for coming vacation travel. Already a friend was robbed in Marseille a few weeks ago, her US passport stolen from a room safe (!) in a five-star resort. Criminal gangs target older tourists, and they’re aware that local authorities can’t do much after the fact. Even a consular official said it was useless to report thefts unless a report for insurance is needed. A friend of ours, standing outside the Venezia train station, got her wallet lifted while a supposed vendor was tossing those obnoxious fluorescent plastic blob toys, brushing close to her, and said arrivederci to €150.
   Remember that train stations are fertile terrain for pickpockets. The bad guys know everybody’s passing through. Watch out for shifty types lurking among waiting crowds, and any over-familiar approaches. Ask: do I know you? Keep your bags closed, and tucked under your arm! Be suspicious of distractions, and move away from aggressive people—fast. Other danger zones: the Champs-ÉlysĂ©es in Paris and definitely the Louvre, now overrun with snatch-and-grab gangs.
   Here’s a reminder of some of the more common scams and risks to watch for.

‱ The ring trick: somebody in front of you picks up a gold ring from the ground, holds it up to you. Yours? Say no! They’ll try and get you to give them some money for it—later you’ll discover it’s worth nothing.
‱ The leather jacket guy: claims he’s a salesman on a business trip. ‘Want to buy a good quality coat really cheap since you’re such a nice person?’ Hold on to your billfold!
‱ The bird poop trick: apologetic person spills ketchup on you, maybe says it was the work of a nearby pigeon, pulls out napkin, tries to help you clean it off. While they’re doing it, they lift your wallet.
‱ Swarming gypsy kids: they surround you asking questions, gesturing, making noise. In the pandemonium, they grab for your bag.

   The season for crime starts now, and lines for replacement passports at consulates peak in June and July. Don’t carry expensive bags unless you want to risk having the bottom slashed. Definitely don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. Consider a good money belt with a strong nylon strap, wear it under your jacket, and above all else, remember what Mom taught you: don’t talk to strangers.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

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Filed under: Lucire, Paris, society, travel, Volante
February 27, 2014

Hacienda in winter

Lucire staff/2.47




Paula Sweet

Greetings from Desert Hot Springs, where mid-80s winter temperatures, clear skies and brilliant sun serve as antidote to the grey chill we left behind in Europe only two weeks ago. Here in California we checked into Hacienda Hot Springs, our favourite secret hideaway, for the therapeutic waters and tranquil setting our high-velocity lifestyle craved. It’s great to be back and decelerate in a zone of rejuvenation.
   Once again GM Karl Stober personally welcomed us to the property. He showed off the last of the season’s nubby Mexican lemons from Hacienda’s modest orchard. Karl, who moonlights as a screenwriter and music journalist, walked us through the grounds, lush green, floral and palm fronds on all sides, past the well where the hot water gathers at 130°F before it reaches the 94°F big pool and the 104°F hot tub. Breakfast was out on the table, hearty granola, fresh fruit, aromatic coffee, and the waffle iron at the ready. We loved room 7, last stop at the end of the passage way, with its tiny patio and beckoning hammock. This tiny gem of a property sleeps only 12 at full occupancy, so exclusivity reigns and privacy prevails.
   Hacienda offers a special rate for Facebook friends. A phone call in advance will get you a special three-night winter deal for Lucire readers through June 2014, with the third night at a 30 per cent discount.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

Hacienda Hot Springs Inn
12885 Eliseo Road
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240
USA
Telephone 1 760 251-2885
haciendahotsprings.com



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February 23, 2014

Stoneleigh’s Wonder of Nature garden is an urban oasis for Auckland

Lucire staff/11.40

Stoneleigh will open its Wonder of Nature garden at 89 Quay Street, Queen’s Wharf, Auckland, New Zealand, from February 28 to March 8, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It’s a dose of experiential marketing for the New Zealand wine label, bringing urban consumers closer to the brand.
   The suspended garden, designed by Jules Moore, promises to be a ‘multi-sensory experience’. The garden features sounds from the Stoneleigh vineyards in Marlborough, as recorded by Grammy Award-winning artist Paul McLaney. McLaney has reworked them into a unique soundscape. This complements the visual backdrop, giving visitors a sense of being in the vineyards in the summer.
   And what better way to extend the experience than to enjoy Stoneleigh wine in the garden? Winemaker Jamie Marfell (below) invites visitors to enjoy a glass while there. Entry is for 18 and over only.
   For those who cannot get to the garden itself, Stoneleigh has launched its Small Wonder of Nature app, where users can create their own part of nature, customize their photo and upload it to the gallery. All entries will be in to win a Stoneleigh Marlborough experience.

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February 12, 2014

Sponsored video: Air New Zealand’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit safety video goes live, with a competition

Lucire staff/11.06

A Lucire special promotion

As reported last week, earlier today, Air New Zealand, a member of the Star Alliance network, revealed its safety video, with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models Chrissy Teigen, Ariel Meredith, Hannah Davis and Jessica Gomes guiding passengers through the procedures while on location in the Cook Islands. Joyana Meyer, the former Miss South Pacific, is the more serious face getting into the specifics, while Christie Brinkley makes a very brief cameo, in a scene where Meredith talks to her via tablet—and is instructed that mobile devices cannot be used in-flight.
   The behind-the-scenes video shown in Lucire and other media last week had already sparked some controversy in New Zealand, with opinions divided over its suitability, but many of the airline’s previous efforts have generated plenty of conversation.
   â€˜The behind-the-scenes video has generated much conversation around the world about our brand and the Cook Islands as a destination since it was released last week,’ says Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand’s global head of brand development. ‘It’s exciting for us to release the full video today and we hope it will encourage many viewers to consider a trip to the Cook Islands.’
   Air New Zealand has operated flights to the Cook Islands for over 40 years, and in 2013, carried nearly 200,000 people there from Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles.
   And to ensure that the campaign gets even more attention, Air New Zealand has launched a competition with five trips to the Cook Islands as the top prizes. Each winner and a friend will be flown to Aitutaki and treated to five nights at the Pacific Hotel, with NZ$500 spending money.
   At theflyingsocialnetwork.com, there is a multi-choice question. If you answer correctly, you will be entered into the competition. Further conditions are at the website.


Article sponsored by Air New Zealand



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January 23, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet heads on US tour, accompanied by Tamsin Cooper’s fashion

Jack Yan/10.59


Jack Yan

Above Gillian Murphy and Tamsin Cooper, with Murphy donning her choice of coat for her tour, created especially for her. The pattern is an adaptation of the one Cooper created for the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 60th anniversary.

From January 31, the Royal New Zealand Ballet will go on tour in the US, performing in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, and New York. The Californians will get to see the company perform its acclaimed production of Giselle, with Angelinos enjoying it with a live orchestra; while Minneapolitans and New Yorkers have a mixed programme: 28 Variations on a Theme of Paganini by Benjamin Millepied, Little Improvisations by Antony Tudor, Banderillero by Javier de Frutos, and Bier Halle pas de deux by Ethan Stiefel, in the midwest; and 28 Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Of Days by Andrew Simmons, and Banderillero, in the Big Apple.
   Designer Tamsin Cooper, who has collaborated with the Royal New Zealand Ballet over the last several years, has created limited editions commemorating the tour, which she showed at the company’s premises today. It builds on one that celebrated the RNZB’s 60th anniversary last year.
   Gifted to some of the dancers were a mixture of bags, some from her regular range, while the fancier, beaded designs were from her 60th anniversary one, though in different colours to those at last year’s ID Dunedin Fashion Show. Only black and white ones were shown then, to tie in with the Black Swan and White Swan in the RNZB’s 60th anniversary presentation of Swan Lake.
   Her piĂšces de rĂ©sistance, however, were limited-edition designs created especially for the RNZB’s principal guest artist, Gillian Murphy. Three Tamsin Cooper coats were especially made for Murphy, and the dancer modelled each before deciding on the one she would take to the US.
   South Carolina-born Murphy was looking forward to her tour, to ‘sharing a great company with an American audience. Everyone is curious about the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and is excited to see it,’ she says.
   The Royal New Zealand Ballet is ‘off-the-radar and the tour will elevate the profile. I feel they are going to be impressed.’
   Murphy is no stranger to Los Angeles or New York, having danced in both cities, and having lived in New York for half her lifetime—she had moved there when she was 17.
   She stresses that this is the first time the RNZB version of Giselle has been performed Stateside, so Californians will be in for a treat.
   Her family will attend, with her parents flying from Virginia to Los Angeles for Giselle, while her sister will see her in New York.
   Ethan Stiefel, artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and Murphy’s fiancĂ©, has family from Wisconsin who will attend the Minneapolis performance.
   The tour begins January 31 and concludes February 16.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Los Angeles
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA Music Center
January 31–February 2

Santa Barbara
Granada Theater, University of California
February 5

Minneapolis
Orpheum Theater
February 8

New York
The Joyce Theater
February 12–16

Publisher’s note: If you want to enjoy more ballet-related content, head over to our serialization of Stanley Moss’s novel, The Crimson Garter.—JY


Jack Yan


Christine Min

Top Gillian Murphy checks out Tamsin Cooper’s bags. Above Tamsin Cooper.






Christine Min

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January 19, 2014

Lucire’s Sopheak Seng puts Wellington fashion in focus with Cup Day events

Lucire staff/12.32


Nikita Brown/Nikita Brown Photography

Sopheak Seng, fashion editor of Lucire, is one of the judges for Wellington Cup Day’s Fashion in the Field. As a preview event, he will helm a mini-fashion show for the Cup’s barrier launch this Wednesday, January 22, at Midland Park, on Lambton Quay in Wellington, New Zealand.
   The barrier announcement will commence at 10 a.m., and Seng will show labels including Rembrandt Suits, Cutler & Co., Miss Selfridge, Carlson, Crochetta, and Deryn Schmidt. All the fashion has come from Kirkcaldie & Stains, with whom Seng has worked closely for the show.
   He follows this up with the Gazley Fashion in the Field event for the Trentham Racing Club’s Wellington Cup Carnival on Saturday, January 25, with the first race scheduled for 12.30 p.m.
   Known for his styling ability and pushing the envelope to international standards, Seng says he is looking forward to judging. ‘Wellington is known for being very creative, and Gazley Fashion in the Field is the perfect opportunity for us to let those energies flow. I’m truly expecting to be surprised.’
   The show is the first 2014 public event put on by Seng, after a hectic 2013 that saw him continue his work with actress Evangeline Lilly and helm the fashion and beauty departments for both print and online editions of Lucire.

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January 18, 2014

Behind the Lucire 2014 redesign, and a features’ round-up

Jack Yan/13.31


Surface Too Deep

Top A promotional image from Surface Too Deep. The model on the left is reading Lucire. It’s a better photo than we could have come up with to promote ourselves. Above Lucire’s new look for the web edition’s news pages for 2014.

You may have noticed we’ve continued to do some housekeeping around the place. Our web news pages now sport a new look for 2014, following on from the facelifted home page. We’re still finding our feet a little with the image sizes, but we should settle into things by the lunar New Year.
   You’d never guess, but getting the new search button at the top of the page, as well as having DuckDuckGo handle our searches, took around an hour. (This switch means we will have no record of what you searched for. In the last 10 years, we knew which keywords were used, but we never bothered looking beyond that. With people increasingly concerned about online privacy, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that doesn’t leak anything to the NSA et al, for the simple reason that it doesn’t keep any search records.) The new footer took an hour and a half. And creating the template for these pages and making sure they worked took around 11 hours. The comment system is now driven by Disqus across the entire Lucire site, not just the features. We also switched from Feedburner for the daily email newsletters to Feedblitz, since there may have been a bug that saw Feedburner deliver the wrong news. We wanted to be safe rather than sorry.
   However, we hope you like it, although if you’re browsing on a cellphone and some mobile devices, you should be seeing a reduced version of these pages as before.
   There have also been new articles on the main part of the website. Elyse Glickman checked out DĂŒsseldorf in her ‘Volante’ feature (the first of three in Germany)—the first article to get the new look. Next up was Stanley Moss, writing as Lovejoy, with our serialization of his novel The Crimson Garter.
   It’s a departure for us to feature fiction, though readers may remember a few road tests by yours truly where I aped the style of another author—my Aston Martin V8 Vantage review was linked and even posted on a forum at the time. However, Stanley’s novel is so compelling it bears the hallmarks of many great Lucire travel stories (many of which were penned by him), and it covers subjects that are familiar to readers. Plus, you can also check out some of the places covered through the related links at the bottom of the page. The icing on the cake is that The Crimson Garter is a really good yarn. The first two chapters are up now, and we’ll add more regularly. Since many of you get into novels over summer, it seems to be an ideal time to serialize his novel. You can also order the whole thing if you want to read ahead—click through and there are links to Kobobooks and Amazon to the right of the title.
   In case you missed the features, Lola Saab has the low-down for spring 2014 from New York; Tamara Madison interviewed Alexandra von Bromssen; and Anna Deans looks at Lindex’s latest campaign with Matthew Williamson and Karlie Kloss. There were also two looks back at 2013: our news-makers, and my personal review of the year.
   Finally, though certainly not least, we have to give props to swimwear label Surface Too Deep for the great photograph above. The model on the left is reading Lucire. The model on the right has put down another title. I think it says it all: the print editions of Lucire, as we regularly hear from readers, truly engage you from cover to cover.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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