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 rĂŠpĂŠtiteur, 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

November 13, 2015

Footwear shopping: Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner choose Uggs; Snkr launches in New Zealand for sneaker aficionados

Lucire staff/9.13

Michael Simon

Kendall Jenner and her sister Kylie shopped for Classic Slim styles at the Ugg Australia flagship store at 600 Madison Avenue, New York. The sisters are Ugg fans, Kylie choosing the black Bethany design and Kendall the chestnut-coloured Amie. The Classic Slim line has a slimmer silhouette, as the name implies, and has improved arch support and traction, says the company. Kendall also chose the Ugg Shearling Trapper hat, Alena slippers and the Ugg Classic boots, while Kylie bought the Scuff slipper and Classic boots.
   The Banks Group has launched Snkr, a footwear retailer that focuses exclusively on sneakers, recognizing that they are fashion statements unto themselves. In the words of the company, ‘It’s a celebration of the art of sneaker design and the undying love of sneaker collectors. It’s a place where sneaker addicts feel understood.’ Brands include Nike, Adidas, and New Balance, among others. Like all new retailers, you have the option of ordering online at—though Snkr also has physical branches in Wellington (Lambton Quay store shown), Lower Hutt and Riccarton, New Zealand.

Michael Simon

Nike Air Max Thea Premium, NZ$179¡99.

New Balance 530 Athleisure in white, NZ$199¡99.

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Lux Missoni Mid, NZ$159¡99.

November 9, 2015

Be in to win with She Loves Golf: Lydia Ko, Toni Street, Laura McGoldrick, Jamie Curry, Amber Peebles promote the sport

Lucire staff/23.17

New Zealand is promoting women’s golf during November, in the wake of Kiwi Lydia Ko regaining her world number-one position after winning the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship, with a month of activities—while Lucire readers can get a fantastic giveaway as part of the She Loves Golf campaign (hashtagged #shelovesgolf).
   The campaign, with Ko, Toni Street, Laura McGoldrick, Jamie Curry, and former Lucire contributor Amber Peebles as the five spokeswomen, will be showcasing their golf experiences around the country. Each woman will document them through their social media channels.
   There are pop-up events to take place in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington on November 13, 22 and 26 respectively. The website at shows what activities women can participate in nationally, as well as gear they can buy and prizes they can win. Clubs are running their own events and offers, all of which can be found on the website.
   All you need to do to be in to win the following prize pack is to like our Facebook page and the post where we mention #shelovesgolf: on top of the golf introductory lessons, there are plenty of goodies. We’re only shipping to New Zealand addresses, and we’ll take entries till the end of November. We’ll draw one name from the likers. Enter now—and enjoy your next round of golf on us!

2 × Whittaker’s chocolate
2 × L’Affarè coffee packs and keep cup
Neutrogena sunscreen
Vita Coco, 1 litre
Faby nail varnish
5 × Schwarzkopf products
IOG 30-minute intro to golf voucher x 2 (value NZ$180)

October 19, 2015

Royal New Zealand Ballet 2016 programme headlined by Francesco Ventriglia’s The Wizard of Oz première

Lucire staff/13.38

Courtesy RNZB

Rahi Rezvani

Ross Brown

Top The Emerald City in Francesco Ventriglia’s The Wizard of Oz. Centre row Cacti, part of Speed of Light. Above Shane Urton and Lucy Green in Giselle.

The New Year will see Royal New Zealand Ballet artistic director Francesco Ventriglia overseeing his first full season for the company, including the world première of The Wizard of Oz, which he created.
   Originally devised for Maggio Danza in Firenze, the production was not performed due to ‘an accident of fate,’ says the RNZB. It is set to music by Francis Poulenc with sets and costumes by Gianluca Falaschi. Opening in Wellington on May 4, the Ryman Healthcare season of The Wizard of Oz will tour to Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North and Napier.
   It is preceded by Speed of Light from February 26 to March 16, 2016, a mixed bill that sees the RNZB perform as part of the New Zealand Festival. The performances include Alexander Ekman’s Cacti, with music by Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, performed by the New Zealand String Quartet; William Forsythe’s celebrated In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, originally commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris OpĂŠra Ballet, with music by Thom Willems, in collaboration with Les Stuck; and Selon dĂŠsir, choreographed and designed by Andonis Foniadakis to the music of J. S. Bach. Speed of Light will also be part of the Auckland Arts Festival and will tour to Christchurch and Dunedin.
   Former artistic director Ethan Stiefel’s much beloved Giselle, which was even turned into a feature film by Toa Fraser, returns for a season from August 11 to September 9.
   Ventriglia said in a release, ‘I’m very happy to have this opportunity to share with you my first season—an expression of what I believe is vital in this world: balancing tradition with innovation. To have major classical repertoire in the same programme as amazing works by choreographers such as William Forsythe who changed ballet forever, is the embodiment of that. It’s a special occasion for NZ audiences and enables me to continue to grow our talented dancers.’
   The company will tour Asia with Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which had its world première in New Zealand, at the end of the year.

October 7, 2015

It’s fine and dandy: Rembrandt shows a classy, complete spring–summer 2015–16 menswear collection

Alex Barrow/14.07

Rembrandt’s spring–summer 2015–16 collection boasts an array of quirky prints, fine Italian shoes, and an æsthetically pleasing mash-up of modern and traditional in the tailoring of their suits. Since their opening in Wellington in 1946, Rembrandt has cemented its fine tailoring reputation throughout Australia and New Zealand, having opened ten main stores between the two countries, as well as a number of outlet stores. A fourth Auckland store at 41 Shortland Street will open in December.
   This year’s collection puts a modern twist on the British dandy of the nineteenth century with an array of less traditional coloured suit jackets, double-buckled leather shoes (we rate the double monk, made in Italy for Rembrandt), silk ruffle lapel pins, and eccentric printed shirts, ties and pocket squares.
   The company has identified marsala as the colour of the year, with it appearing through its accessories’ range as well as its Bryan dinner jacket.
   Rembrandt’s Wayward Heir line, targeting a younger wearer, has straight lines and narrow fits for the season.
   Rembrandt’s forte lies in dressing for black tie events, making the wearer of their suits stand out. With the option to purchase off the rack, order a made-to-measure suit, or hire one for an event, Rembrandt has its customers’ suit needs covered to a high standard. Furthermore, the menswear company also offers high-quality clothing for everyday casual wear.
   With the motto ‘bespoke is in our blood’, the history of Rembrandt draws back to the world wars of the early twentieth century where immigrants from Holland came to New Zealand, specializing in tailoring. With an opportunity on the horizon the company was started and have spent almost seventy years building tailoring knowledge and expertise to create the reputation they have today of fine craftsmanship.
   With the reputable work and class of Rembrandt, the company has partnered up with the Wellington Phoenix, South Sydney Rabbitohs and the New Zealand All Whites in officially tailoring the teams. Rembrandt gives back to the fashion community by proudly co-sponsoring the Fashion and Textile award of the ECC Student Craft–Design Award for 2015.—Alex Barrow

September 25, 2015

Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art Awards’ Show 2015 sees Nelson’s Peter Wakeman take top honours

Lucire staff/11.00

Courtesy World of Wearable Art Awards’ Show

Top Diva’s Dreamscape, by Peter Wakeman. Above Deadly Beauty, by Xi Zhang.

Nelson, New Zealand designer Peter Wakeman has won the 2015 Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art Supreme WOW Award with his entry Diva’s Dreamscape.
   Wakeman wins $30,000 in prizes with his design, entered into the Creative Excellence Section: Architecture category. Made from stainless steel, wood and fibreglass, interpreting the art-déco era, the judges admired Wakeman’s workmanship while the founder of the World of Wearable Art Awards’ Show, Dame Suzie Moncrieff, praised its artistic integrity.
   â€˜Diva’s Dreamscape really is a stunning piece of art,’ she says. ‘It has a strong simplicity that works perfectly from every angle. The use of such hard materials to create a sophisticated garment demonstrates great skill and creative ability.’
   Diva’s Dreamscape was the unanimous choice of the judges, which included Dame Suzie, sculptor Greer Twiss and fashion designer Denise l’Éstrange-Corbet.
   It is the third time Wakeman has entered WOW, and the second time he has won a prize. In 2013, he was runner-up to the Supreme Award winner for his Chica under Glass.
   Xi Zhang, a student from Donghua University, Shanghai, took the runner-up prize this year, with Deadly Beauty. Zhang entered her design, made from feathers, beads and mesh cloth, into the Wellington Airport Avant Garde section.
   There were 107 entries by 123 designers who were chosen for the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art Awards’ Show this year.
   The American Express Open section was won by Jeff Thomson of Auckland with Tinker. Thomson also won the New Zealand Design Award with Tinker. For Annie, by Doreen Helms and Susan Thurner of Nelson, won the children’s section. Philippa Stitchbury of Melbourne, Victoria won the Aotearoa section with On Reflection; while the Man section, with the theme of Uniform this year, was won by Chris Wilson and Gary Wilson of Upper Hutt with their Piper of the Lights. The Weta Costume and Film section was won by Joanna Peacock of Colchester, England, with her design To Be or Not to Be.
   The Cirque du Soleil Performance Art Costume Award went to Tess Taverner Hanks of Sydney, NSW, for Kaleidoscope. Hanks also won the Shell Student Innovation Award with the same design. The WOW Factor Award was won by Rodney Leong with Get Behind Me Satan.
   Another Donghua University student, Qianwen Hong, won with Exotic in the Wearable Technology Award, and the Shell Sustainability Award was won by Wanganui’s Danielle Sasvari with Templa Mentis.
   The First-Time Entrant Award was won by Ewelina Kosmal of Konskie, with Brave New World.
   The Wellington International Awards are given to entrants in different parts of the globe. The overall winner was M45 Pleiades by Maria Tsopanaki and Dimitri Mavinis of London; they also won for the UK and Europe category. Starship Girl, by Julian Hartzog of Tarpon Springs, Fla., won for the Americas. Mona, by Kerryta Chau, Wing Lam Yeung and Emily Lau of the Hong Kong Design Institute, won for Asia; and The Stitch Witch, by Sarah Seahorse and Luna Aquatica of Melbourne, Victoria, won for Australia and the South Pacific.
   The total prize pool of 40 awards had a combined value of NZ$165,000. Thirteen New Zealand-designed garments won 15 awards, and 24 awards were won by 18 international designs.

Above, from top Tinker, by Jeff Thomson. For Annie, by Doreen Helms and Susan Thurner. On Reflection, by Philippa Stitchbury. To Be or Not to Be, by Joanna Peacock. Kaleidoscope, by Tess Taverner Hanks. Get Behind Me Satan, by Rodney Leong. Exotic, by Qianwen Hong. Templa Mentis, by Danielle Sasvari. Brave New World, by Ewelina Kosmal. M45 Pleiades by Maria Tsopanaki and Dimitri Mavinis. Starship Girl, by Julian Hartzog. Mona, by Kerryta Chau, Wing Lam Yeung and Emily Lau. The Stitch Witch, by Sarah Seahorse and Luna Aquatica.

September 24, 2015

Brancott Estate launches new vintages for 2015 in limited-edition World of Wearable Art bottles

Lucire staff/23.11

Top Into the Blue and Rosebud with Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate chief winemaker. Above The two new limited-edition Brancott Estate bottles.

With the Brancott Estate World of Wearable Art (WOW) Awards’ Show back again for 2015, the famed winemaker and naming rights’ sponsor of the event has released two limited-edition bottles along with new vintages in celebration.
   The Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and South Island Pinot Noir 2014 will appear in bottles featuring two former World of Wearable Art entrants by New Zealand designers. The sauvignon blanc features Into the Blue: Māori Living in a Thermoplastic World, by Marie Gant Roxburgh, and the pinot noir features Rosebud, by Kate Hellyar.
   The new Brancott Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is described by the company as ‘fresh, crisp and lively’, with fruit flavours, while the South Island Pinot Noir 2014 is ‘vibrant and fruity with dark fruit and lovely textural interest.’
   â€˜As winemakers, we are constantly creating new expressions of wine to enjoy and WOW is much the same through their celebration of innovative design. Together we are putting New Zealand wine and design on the world map,’ said chief winemaker Patrick Materman in a release.
   Dame Suzie Moncrieff, founder of WOW, notes, ‘The new limited-edition Brancott Estate WOW bottles are the perfect way to capture and share New Zealand wine and creativity. We’re excited to be able to bring our designers’ creations to life through these beautiful bottle designs.’
   The World of Wearable Art Awards’ Show season runs till October 11 in Wellington, New Zealand. The limited-edition WOW series for 2015 will be available for a limited time at NZ$17¡29. The official hashtag for the event is #brancottestatewow.
   Lucire will have the 2015 WOW winners’ names later on Friday.

August 20, 2015

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: where talent surpasses itself

Jack Yan/16.19

Stephen A’Court

Top Dancers Tonia Looker and MacLean Hopper in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Above Tonia Looker and Harry Skinner.

If you ever wish to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet when everyone has reached beyond what you knew was their peak, then A Midsummer Night’s Dream presents that very opportunity: a ballet where the quality is jaw-droppingly magnificent, where choreographer, designer, lighting designer, and musical director have surpassed themselves, and where the dancers have revelled in bringing a production to life.
   In tonight’s (August 20) world première, Tracy Grant Lord’s designs are the first thing you notice, a galactic image of the night sky projected on to the curtain before the action is revealed, then a set that can only be described as her best work reviewed by Lucire to date. Set in a fairy dell in the wood, Lord’s imagination takes us into a world of cabanas and fungi, with electric blue shades offsetting the dark, night sky. It is the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s largest set, complete with bridges, multiple staircases, even a pole from which Puck slides down. Lord notes that her design ‘includes particular structural, decorative and technical elements that exist only for this production, and have all been developed and manufactured in the company workshops.’ This is a unique interpretation, a master-class in ballet set design, all the more impressive when one considers that Lord had a budget to work to. She envelopes us with her world even before the dancers take their first step.
   Kendall Smith’s lighting design comes into its own with Lord’s set, keeping the cabanas’ interiors dark when unused and lighting them subtly when dancers appear. His moon, in Act II, appears as a round, fluorescent ring, emerging from behind the mesh. With Lord employing a single set for the entire ballet, Smith’s lighting gave the production a sense of variety and change throughout. We noted earlier that Smith employed 4,000 LEDs and 2,000 m of fibreoptic cable, and we can certainly say they were put to excellent use. Smith, whose rĂŠsumĂŠ includes lighting for Andrea Boccelli and Luciano Pavarotti, and some of the most respected companies in the US, was flown out with the support of the US Embassy, giving another world-class aspect to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
   Lord also stretched her imagination with the costumes, giving the initial illusion that the fairies were petite; it was only when Oberon and Titania appeared that you began realizing their true scale. Oberon’s and Puck’s costumes had a more cinematic, modern bent than seen in other interpretations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with the former having a plunging neckline and a science-fiction feel to it. The fairies’ wings and headgear had metallic detailing, again taking us beyond the typical dell and going past the usual, traditional elements that earlier productions tend to rely on.
   Rising star Liam Scarlett did not disappoint, either, with choreography that expresses a witty yet respectful take on the Shakespeare play. Whether it was transforming Bottom into a donkey, and his subsequent comical pas de deux with Titania, having Puck swing down Ă  la the cinematic Tarzan to commence his antics in the second act, or the strongly romantic pas de deux between Oberon and Titania, Scarlett’s interpretation brought the Mendelssohn score to life, matching movement masterfully to music.
   The music, too, saw RNZB musical director Nigel Gaynor go further than he typically has. Mendelssohn’s score was insufficient for a full-length ballet. Gaynor and Scarlett collaborated, choosing additional Mendelssohn pieces to give the characters greater depth and the story more completeness. Various opuses have been added along with incidental music, and Mendelssohn fans will recognize them and marvel at just how well they have been incorporated, not least how fittingly the choreography has been applied. It’s this characterization which marks out Scarlett’s work. The interactions between the characters—Oberon and Puck, Titania and Bottom, Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, and the comical pursuit by both Lysander and Demetrius toward Helena—gives the RNZB’s production exceptional entertainment value. Like its The Nutcracker of 2010, the dance techniques are rich enough for the adult ballet-goer to appreciate, while the structure and comical elements give children plenty to enjoy.
   Adding incidental music from Mendelssohn is not new—Balanchine did the same in his version—but the level of dedication is apparent.
   And all this before commenting on the dancing itself, which was exquisite.
   MacLean Hopper had the commanding nature of Oberon on opening night. Tonia Looker’s Titania had a beauty and elegance that never diminished even when dancing with a donkey, thanks to her control. However, Kohei Iwamoto arguably stole the show as Puck, with an irreverence that the audience loved. Harry Skinner’s Bottom may have had a relatively minor role but his transformation, complete with tail, ensured he was remembered. Lori Gilchrist (Hermia), Joseph Skelton (Lysander), Abigail Boyle (Helena) and Demetrius (Paul Mathews) contrasted each other’s emotions through simple movements; when both men are entranced by Helena, Boyle’s movements conveyed her shock at the energetic pursuit—accompanied by an equally energetic rejection of Hermia. Scarlett was never too clever for his own good: he kept to the story and the score, and delivered through the characters in subtle ways, a sign of a choreographer who works in close collaboration with his dancers.
   It was a privilege to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Wellington as a world première; after its New Zealand tour (which runs till September 20), it will next be performed by the Queensland Ballet, with whom the RNZB co-produced, in 2016.
   The Vodafone season of A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs through August 23 in Wellington; 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

Top Promotional image for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Above Forget retro: the sketch for Oberon’s costume.

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