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May 22, 2015

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

Jack Yan/12.27

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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 rnzb.org.nz.

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May 18, 2015

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

Jack Yan/13.09

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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 www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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May 8, 2015

Two world premières form part of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute, ahead of an international tour

Lucire staff/2.36

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Ross Brown

Top Neil Ieremia’s Passchendaele with RNZB dancer William Fitzgerald. Above Kirby Selchow dances Andrew Simmons’ Dear Horizon.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has revealed more about Salute, its commemoration of World War I, that premières in Wellington on May 22, with a nationwide tour after its stint there. As revealed in Lucire earlier this month, two of the specially commissioned pieces having their world première in Wellington will also be seen abroad, with the Royal Ballet hosting the RNZB in November 2015 at the Royal Opera House. Leeds, Canterbury and Roma are on the list of stops for the tour, Francesco Ventriglia, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s artistic director revealed today.
   The two premières, both commissions by the RNZB, are from choreographers Neil Ieremia and Andrew Simmons, set to scores by Dwayne Bloomfield and Gareth Farr, respectively. The world-class New Zealand Army Band will also collaborate on Salute, touring to each of the seven centres on the national tour.
   Ieremia’s Passchendaele, with the Bloomfield score, will also feature works by Auckland artist Geoff Tune, inspired by his artist grandfather’s World War I diaries and recent visits to Gallipoli and Passchendaele.
   Ieremia said in a release, ‘The grotesque and brutal nature of war robs humans of humanity—my intention is to do what little I can to remind us of our own. From the haunting journey through the music, to the refined expression in the dancers’ bodies, encapsulating the very human impact of war—this creative process has already left an indelible mark on my spirit. I feel I have grasped a very, very small insight into something that should never be forgotten.’
   Simmons’ Dear Horizon is a new commission and his fifth for the company, and features a specially commissioned score by Farr, written for the New Zealand Army Band and cellist Rolf Gjelsten of the New Zealand String Quartet.
   Simmons said, ‘It is a very special honour to have been asked to create something for the company as part of this commemorative programme. War cannot really be celebrated and fêted, however the human aspect and participation should always be remembered. I wanted to create a work that reflects upon emotions of those affected by conflict.’
   The set and costumes for Dear Horizon have been designed by Tracy Grant Lord, who also designed the RNZB’s Cinderella (2007) and Romeo and Juliet (2004).
   As detailed last month, the Salute programme also features Johan Kobborg’s Salute and Jiří Kylián’s Soldiers’ Mass.
   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 for Salute 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.
   Further information can be found on the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s website at rnzb.org.nz.

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May 6, 2015

Goodness Natural Beauty Lab launches chia seed oil skin care range

Lucire staff/12.16

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Popping on our radar is a new range from Goodness Natural Beauty Lab. Its point of difference is using certified organic chia seed oil as the main ingredient for its new skin care line: the oil itself is lightweight and has what the company calls a ‘perfect’ three-to-one ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 essential fatty acids.
   This ratio is an ideal for skin healthy and goodness, and the chia oil is considered a ‘super-oil’ that can help nourish and hydrate skin, and promote anti-inflammatory support. A few drops, according to Goodness, ‘sorts out the essential fatty acids, minerals, B-vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and general goodness’.
   The oil is extracted using a cold pressed method, which means Goodness doesn’t have to use solvents and other artificial ingredients. There’s also no artificial fragrance or colourants.
   The range starts at NZ$15·95 for the 75 ml Every Week face scrub; the Every Day cream cleanser and Every Morning moisturizer, both in 75 ml packs, retail at NZ$19·95; while the two flagship products are the certified organic chia seed oil (20 ml) and the Every Evening cream (75 ml) at NZ$23·95.
   It is now available in selected Farmers and New World stores in New Zealand; see goodnessproducts.com or call 64 4 473-1286 for more retail information.

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Filed under: beauty, Lucire, New Zealand
April 19, 2015

It’s all about the eyes with the Body Shop’s latest releases

Lucire staff/5.19

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The Body Shop focuses on the eyes with its latest releases. It has launched two Matte Kajal eyeliners, in white and black. One complaint we often see at Lucire with kohl eyeliners is the difficult application, especially as some need three or four passes before getting any colour. The Body Shop’s Italian-made Matte Kajals—the Body Shop has opted for the Hindi term—don’t suffer from that problem: they are easy to apply and smudge, and enriched with Community Fair Trade beeswax from Cameroon. Each retails for NZ$25 and appear at the Body Shop’s New Zealand retail outlets and online from Monday, April 20.
   The Body Shop suggests that the white can come in handy to counteract redness and help make the eye look larger, and it can enhance eye-shadow colours. It can also be used under the brow, blending downards to create an eye-lift, while defining the brow.
   The look can be completed with the new Super Volume Mascara from the Body Shop, retailing at NZ$27·50. Like the Matte Kajals, the pigmentation is good and smudge-free, and stays on well during the day, though care is needed with the brush. The Body Shop adds that contact lens wearers won’t have any trouble with it. Knowing that it hasn’t been tested on animals is a huge bonus for our times, and it features Community Fair Trade marula oil from the Eudafano Women’s Cooperative in Namibia, an initiative that helps 1,750 women in the region.
   The company is also releasing its Velvet Gel Pen (NZ$19·95), Skinny Thin Felt Liner (NZ$22·95) and Bold Oversized Felt Liner (NZ$22·95).

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April 16, 2015

The Body Shop’s Fuji Green Tea range: satisfying at every level, from bath tea to cologne

Lucire staff/12.55

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Top The Body Shop’s Fuji Green Tea range. Above The pièce de résistance of the range: the bath tea. Below left The huge bargain of them all: an eau de cologne that’s comparable to something twice the price.

The Body Shop’s latest Fuji Green Tea range, on sale in New Zealand from Monday, April 20, is one of the best the company has offered, and we’re not exaggerating. For starters, the full, fruity smells that we’ve become accustomed to with its earlier special editions is gone, replaced by a pure, healthy, subtler green tea scent. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the fruity and even chocolatey approaches of the Body Shop, but it’s great to see they have more secrets up their sleeves that they are gradually showing off to the public. Secondly, the methods the Body Shop has taken with the Fuji Green Tea range are very different: it has taken a uniquely eastern approach, combining tradition and authenticity with the Body Shop’s socially responsible aims.
   Green tea has antioxidant qualities, and we’re used to drinking it for its health benefits, but the Body Shop takes this idea further. Going into Japanese tradition, it found that women even bathed in it, and it’s believed to tighten pores help skin retain moisture, and have anti-ageing qualities.
   Sourcing authentic green tea from Mt Fuji, the Body Shop has developed an entire range featuring just what its customers expect: body scrub (250 ml, NZ$44·95); body butter (200 ml, NZ$36·95); body lotion (250 ml, NZ$24·95); body wash (250 ml, NZ$16·50); eau de cologne (100 ml, NZ$39·95); and exfoliating soap (100 g, NZ$19). However, the pièce de résistance has to be the bath tea, 300 g of goodness for detoxing and cleansing for NZ$64, allowing you soak those stresses away in Japanese fashion.
   With a metal container evoking a traditional tea tin, the bath tea comes with an infuser. Pour in the mixture of crystals and tea leaves, and let the water run over it. The water turns a nice green hue, and it smells great. A soak is indeed calming and soothing, leaving skin feeling healthy. You know the ritual—as fun as it is going through it—has a practical side, too.
   We sampled the body scrub as well, which is particularly effective, and only requires small quantities to work its magic.
   That feeling continues afterwards with the body butter for 24-hour hydration—the Body Shop suggests that the body lotion would be ideal for lighter hydration, and the Body Sorbet (200 ml, NZ$26) is a fresh alternative.
   The bath tea may be the pièce de résistance, but the surprises don’t stop: the eau de cologne is the icing on the proverbial cake. It’s actually a light, fruity floral, although you can detect the green tea mixed in among the top notes; the floral heart is very memorable and fresh. The Body Shop says it’s bergamot, lemon and mandarin that we detect there, and camellia, jasmine and violet in the middle. It’s actually a very elegant scent, something you would expect wearing a far more expensive label, and, like the rest of the Green Tea line, it’s a bargain. It’s not often a $40 scent smells like something that’s commonly twice or thrice the price.
   As a range, it’s one of the most complete and satisfying the Body Shop has offered.
   The Body Shop Fuji Green Tea range will be available online and at New Zealand retail outlets from next week.

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April 14, 2015

Goodness and Noa Noa welcome the winter blues

Lucire staff/5.56

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Nikita Brown Photography

When the scene gets quiet, you can always trust our own fashion and beauty editor, Sopheak Seng, to helm a show to get things buzzing again. In collaboration with Goodness, which was the first out of the gate at a two-label show at Caffè l’Affaré last Thursday, Wellington fashionistas and guests escaped the first wintry blasts for one of the more memorable social events on the calendar.
   Goodness’s Chris Hales, whose boutiques have been selling fashionable and sometimes harder-to-find independent designers for some time, launched her own range to complement the likes of Loobie’s Story, Kowtow, Nyne and Deborah Sweeney some time ago, but this was the first catwalk outing that Lucire witnessed. And she understands her customer well: casual separates, paired in unexpected ways, tapping in to the floral trend that’s been forecast for autumn–winter 2015. Taupe and olive similarly conveyed the winter vibe, right on time for the colder months Down Under.
   The second half of the show, styled by Lucire’s Sopheak Seng, showcased Danish label Noa Noa, with a winter collection ‘inspired by the tapestry of life,’ says Seng. Trawling through the markets in France to the bazaars in Marrakech—not unlike our last few print editions, then—the eclectic collection saw masculine lines meeting feminine fabrications, tied with the first half of the show through floral motifs in forest green, Moroccan blue, and tawny red. Sunglasses were donned by each of the models, resplendent in jackets and coats, looking cool as they wandered down the catwalk, much as the designers would have wandered through those bazaars.
   Live music from Ophelia, the indie folk–dubstep duo of Patrick Shanahan and Alex Louise, served as the unique soundtrack to both shows, cranking up the non-mainstream vibe of the show, while in the café, itself one of the trendy spots of the capital, sponsors served up Triple Rock vodka (the jaffa and liquorice varieties were very memorable), Colombo wines, Moa cider, and l’Affarè coffee itself. Clinique did the make-up, Chop created the hair looks using Kevin Murphy, and Rydges were credited with their support for the band. Shoes were from Shoe Connection. Finally, Gazley’s support was very evident with four stylish Alfa Romeo Giuliettas parked outside and a MiTo on the catwalk, upping the Euro credentials with Italian chic. The blue lights shining on the walls surrounding the catwalk served to remind us that one can, indeed, stay warm with the winter blues!






Nikita Brown Photography

Backstage



Nikita Brown Photography

The Scene











Nikita Brown Photography

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Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Salute, commemorating the centenary of World War I, to première May 22

Lucire staff/0.45

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Ross Brown

Above Dancer Joseph Skelton.

One of the most anticipated ballets from the Royal New Zealand Ballet, since news of it was announced in 2014, will première in Wellington on May 22. Salute, which comprises four dance works to mark the centenary of World War I, will tour Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Takapuna, Auckland and Napier after its performances in the capital.
   â€˜This powerful programme themed around war, loss and hope is our tribute to those men and women who sacrificed so much, many of whom were the same ages as our young dancers,’ said RNZB artistic director Francesco Ventriglia.
   The company will be joined for three of the four works by the New Zealand Army Band, which will perform, among others, a new commission by composer Gareth Farr. The Band will tour with the RNZB to every venue.
   â€˜This dynamic mixed bill includes: a twentieth century masterpiece by legendary Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián; two world premières created for the company by NZ choreographers Andrew Simmons and Neil Ieremia; and the NZ première of a work by Johan Kobborg,’ said Ventriglia.
   â€˜Watching the four works taking shape is very exciting, and profoundly moving. I really believe this programme will resonate with all New Zealanders,’ said RNZB managing director Amanda Skoog.
   Soldiers’ Mass, by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián with music by Bohuslav Martinů, is a commentary on the destructiveness of war, and is performed by 12 male dancers. It was originally created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 1980 and was first performed by the RNZB in 1998.
   New Zealand-born Andrew Simmons’ Dear Horizon is a new commission and his fifth for the company, and features a specially commissioned score by Farr, written for the New Zealand Army Band and cellist Rolf Gjelsten of the New Zealand String Quartet. Simmons’ Of Days was highly regarded by Lucire, and he had earlier created Through to You and A Song in the Dark. Now based in Dresden, he was formerly a dancer with the RNZB.
   Neil Ieremia, founder of Black Grace, has created Passchendaele for the RNZB, named for the battle in which more New Zealanders were killed and wounded than in any other. This World War I battle claimed the lives of some 600,000 on both sides of the conflict. This second première in Salute was inspired by music composed by former New Zealand Army Band member Dwayne Bloomfield.
   Finally, Johan Kobborg’s Salute, with music by Hans Christian Lumbye specially arranged for the New Zealand Army Band, should end the evening on a more light-hearted note, dealing with cadets who have not experienced war. Kobborg collaborated with Ethan Stiefel on the RNZB’s highly acclaimed Giselle, and created the comedic ballet Les Lutins.
   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 for Salute 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.
   Further information can be found on the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s website at rnzb.org.nz.

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