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August 15, 2014

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro journeys from classical to science fiction

Jack Yan/15.57

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Ross Brown

Top A classical approach for Allegro Brillante. Above Larry Keigwin’s Megalopolis.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro: Five Short Ballets, was a bittersweet performance, knowing it would be the last time many in the audience would see the company’s principal guest artist, Gillian Murphy, dance.
   Murphy and her fiancé, RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel, are set to return to the US, and she kept a composed, dignified air after the performance when Lucire wished her well for her future.
   The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Andrea Tandy noted that Auckland audiences, who had seen Allegro prior to Wellington’s for a change, gave the five productions a wonderful reception.
   In the first ballet of the five, Allegro Brillante, Murphy and Kohei Iwamoto led a small cast of 10 to Tchaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto, with choreography by the late George Balanchine. Russian-born Balanchine’s works have been staged by the RNZB from time to time, and Allegro Brillante was performed in 1999 and 2001. With a classical structure and technique, staged by Eve Lawson, it proved an endearing opening to the performances on the first night in Wellington.
   As skilful as the dancers were, Qi Huan’s presence was missed opposite Murphy—Huan moved on to the New Zealand School of Dance, teaching classical ballet, telling us earlier that he could not pass up the opportunity.
   The simple settings allowed Nigel Percy’s lighting to set a very different mood each time.
   Les Lutins, which followed, was a particularly enjoyable comedic ballet. It would be the only one with live music of the five, performed by the impressive Benjamin Baker on violin, and Michael Pansters on piano, while Rory Fairweather-Neylan, Arata Miyagawa and Lucy Green played the role of the goblins, in trousers and braces, with simple, carefree choreography by Johan Kobborg. The interaction between the dancers and Baker was cleverly staged, and the neatly executed jetés and tours en l’air from Fairweather-Neylan and Miyagawa deserve mention.
   Satellites, after the first interval, brought a scientific theme, conveying the equilibrium that satellites maintain in orbit: as dancers go off, new ones emerge. Graphically, orbits appear in the background, designed and animated by Jac Grenfell, dancers held circular mirrors, while electronic music by Jan-Bas Bollen emphasized the high-tech feel. Kinetic sculptures by Jim Murphy continued the theme (segmented planets hanging in the air), as did Donnine Harrison’s costumes (the discs worn by two ballerinas again reflecting the circular theme). Daniel Belton, who was behind the concept and choreography, was inspired by the Bauhaus movement, with its practitioners Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee and Moholy-Nagy, successfully blending the geometry and modernistic approach of the school with balletic expression. For once, those who are disciples of, or simply aware of, Bauhaus principles have a ballet that translates those ideas.
   Mattress Suite, choreographed by Larry Keigwin for his own company, delighted in a simple, playful setting, with a mattress as the one prop, telling the story of newlyweds who drift apart, the groom discovering he is homosexual. It is the only one with mature themes and popular songs (‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ as sung by Stevie Wonder, and ‘At Last’ by Etta James) and the mattress itself was used as everything from a wall to a trampoline in six short dances. Cheekily, the dance with a gay threesome is called ‘Straight Duet’.
   The RNZB is the first to perform Mattress Suite outside of Keigwin & Company.
   It was Keigwin again for the finalé, Megalopolis, which went beyond science and into science fiction, blending the cinematic Flash Gordon and Studio 54 into a single ballet, finding great favour with the audience. Megalopolis was certainly energetic—RNZB finalés often are, and rightly so, when presenting a series of ballets—while Fritz Mason’s costume design, in black with silver details, was a retrofuturistic delight.
   Allegro: Five Short Ballets continues in Wellington till the 17th at the St James. Invercargill follows on August 20 at the Civic, while Dunedin’s Regent Theatre plays host on the 23rd inst.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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August 14, 2014

Mana Wahine: a powerful celebration of womanhood and history

Jack Yan/4.40

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Alex Efimoff

Mana Wahine, which had its première in June in Rotorua for Matariki, arrived in Wellington last night with the first of a brief series of performances (until August 16), with a powerful celebration of womanhood by the Okareka Dance Company.
   Mana Wahine tells the story of Te Aokapurangi, who was captured in battle but returned later to save her people from slaughter.
   The production began with the image of the storyteller, Tūī Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield, a descendant of Te Aokapurangi, appearing on the curtains prior to the show, a foretaste of the clever use of lighting and imagery projected on the dance floor and walls. Her evocative waerea incantation from the first scene led to powerful, purposeful choreography performed by five dancers, Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo.
   Graceful and strong, the quintet were chosen for their experience as women and those from whom they have descended.
   Mana Wahine blends different genres of dance, captivating the audience between its sets so seamlessly, and is a beautiful tribute to Te Aokapurangi while shining a light on the proud people in our country’s past.
   Even without knowing the historical aspect one has to admire the authentic and sincere performances of the five dancers.
   The production was inspired by a conversation between cousins Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield and Okarewa artistic director Taiaroa Royal, on their ancestry and the Ngāti Ohomairangi of Te Arawa, namely the matriarch Kearoa and Te Aokapurangi of Ngāti Rangiwewehi and Tapuika. Both women were responsible for saving their people, demonstrating in New Zealand’s history the power and role of women.
   Ranapiri-Ransfield researched the story, and wrote the lyrics and composed the music for the karanga, waerea and patere, and it is her voice that the audience hears. Victoria Kelly composed the rest of the score. Malia Johnston, with her extensive choreographic experience, co-authored Mana Wahine. Taane Mete directed Mana Wahine, calling it one of the ‘most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered.’ The collaboration between the talents, including technical production manager Jonny Cross, producer Rachael Penman, rehearsal director Natalie Clark and administrator Jesse Wikiriwhi, have resulted in a real, enriching production.—Jack Yan, Publisher

Mana Wahine runs till August 16, with daily performances at 7.30 p.m., and one matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m., at Te Whaea, New Zealand National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Road, Newtown, Wellington. Tickets are $20–$40, plus booking fees. Bookings can be made by telephone on 0800 BUY-TIX or visit www.eventfinder.co.nz.

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July 23, 2014

News round-up: Dilmah hosts high teas in New Zealand; Trish Peng searches for new face

Lucire staff/22.50

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Dilmah Tea New Zealand

Dilmah Tea hosted a series of high teas around New Zealand, promoting its socially responsible message along with the rising interest in tea mixology.
   Its Wellington stop on Tuesday, hosted by Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando and his son, Dilhan C. Fernando, the company’s chief marketing officer, and in the presence of Her Excellency Zodwa Lallie, South African High Commissioner, was a particular treat, with a menu designed by Dilmah Real High Tea Gold Medallist Laurent Loudeac, executive chef of the Museum Art Hotel.
   Held at the hotel’s famed Hippopotamus restaurant, guests were treated to everything from ora king salmon sashimi—which we would label as our favourite of the afternoon—to lap sang souchong yoghurt panna cotta and a lychee-infused jasmine tea and rosewater caviar, complemented by various Dilmah teas.
   The selection included Dilmah’s Ran Watte Single Region Ceylon tea, its green tea with jasmine flowers, and its rose tea with French vanilla.
   The highlight was the address given my Merrill J. Fernando, after a video looking back through the history of Dilmah and how his famed catchphrase, ‘Do try it,’ was created by a New Zealand agency.
   He spoke of how Dilmah goes beyond the requirements of Fair Trade with its ethically made tea, because those who grow the tea share in the equity. The value-added components of Dilmah are not done by international traders, but by Sri Lankans, and the company constantly puts money back into the community, funding education, health care, cultural and even business activities.
   Some rivals force down the prices that tea farmers can sell at, keeping them poor, while profiting from the value-added components in the marketing and production chain.
   Mr Fernando also stressed that Ceylon tea is the finest, and that Dilmah, to preserve that integrity, does not mix its teas with those from other countries.
   Through a Trade Me auction, the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation is also raising money for a culinary centre in Sri Lanka which will train people living with disabilities or have been disadvantaged, so that they can find employment to support themselves.
   They can be found on Trade Me, with the auctions closing on July 27. Items include Parawa Estate Ingalalla Grand Reserve 2007 wine, valued at over NZ$1,250; an individually numbered caddy of a very rare tea, FBOP 1, from the Dilmah Opapa Estate in Sri Lanka; a night for two at the Langham Hotel in Auckland; and two nights for two at the Museum Art Hotel in Wellington.
   In other New Zealand news, new label Trish Peng is running a Fresh Face modelling competition as part of her New Zealand Fashion Week début next month, with the help of L’Oréal Professionnel and Vanity Walk.
   New Zealand women are invited to enter via the Trish Peng Facebook page. Peng and Vanity Walk, a modelling agency, will judge from the uploaded photo and details.
   Entries close August 2. The winner becomes the face of the next Trish Peng campaign, opens Peng’s fashion week show, receives a modelling contract with Vanity Walk, and wins a year’s supply of L’Oréal Professionnel products.—Jack Yan, Publisher, with Lucire staff


Felicity Anderson/Trio Communications



Dilmah

Top Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando with Lucire publisher Jack Yan. Centre Dilmah chief marketing officer Dilhan C. Fernando and South African High Commissioner, HE Zodwa Lallie. Above Museum Art Hotel proprietor Chris Parkin with HE Zodwa Lallie.

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July 17, 2014

A number of firsts for Lucire, with issue 33 on sale today

Jack Yan/10.00

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Lucire issue 33, on sale today, marks a number of firsts and is one of the best we’ve had.
   We’ve always been very fair on who makes the cover. Sopheak Seng, our fashion and beauty editor, and I choose from all the images we have, and these include ones that he has produced as creative director or stylist. And in the years we’ve worked together, he’s opted not to put his ones ahead of others’. We’ve both gone for what is best for Lucire. Some shoots that have appeared on the cover he has worked on in a supervisory role, but others have come from our brilliant network of creatives worldwide.
   Issue 33 sees his first cover that he has directed, and it’s one we’re both exceptionally proud of. Photographed by Dave Richards, and with the A-team of Michael Beel on hair and Hil Cook on make-up, assisted by Jaye Morgan, Natalie Henderson and Andy Alsop, and modelled by Chloé Graham, it’s the first time in 17 years that we’ve cropped the Lucire logo behind the model’s head.
   We realize this technique is commonplace and it’s probably a surprise to anyone reading the above that that hasn’t happened before. And we’ve had many great images—only the best get selected for the coveted spot. But for some reason, when it came to the crunch, we opted to keep the logo complete, as have always done on the website. This time, the image was so striking that we felt it was time to take the scalpel to the logo, thanks to head designer Tanya Sooksombatisatian.
   It is Dave’s first shoot with us, so to score a cover on your first go is very impressive, though it has happened a few other times—Courtney Dailey with Laura Vandervoort in issue 29, for instance.
   I have a feeling, too, that Chloé is the first Scot to be on our cover. While a New Zealander, she hails from Glasgow, and this is rather timely with the Commonwealth Games about to commence.
   I congratulate my good friend and colleague, Sopheak, and I think this is going to be one of those memorable Lucire covers that will be cited in years to come.
   There’s plenty more inside, and you can get a taste of the articles in our issue 33 preview.
   I’m very proud of one shoot by Jon Moe in there, with our California A-team of Jamie Dorman (now in New York, but who was our pointwoman on the shoot), Lei Phillips and Carina Tafalu, and starring two former Miss Universe New Zealands, Laural Barrett and Samantha Lochhead, each in their second appearances in Lucire. Jon lovingly shot this at Riviera 31 at the Sofitel Los Angeles, and I acknowledge our US west coast editor, Elyse Glickman, for her connections with Pivotal Public Relations in getting us the location.
   It’s not the only cover that we can talk about: some of you will have seen Dorit Thies’s and Olga Fonda’s announcement of their cover for Lucire Arabia. (The story is in issue 33, too, but it was strongly felt that Dorit’s shot was the best to début our title there. When you see the pages, you’ll also notice why this is an incredible shoot with the Vampire Diaries star.) We’ll have more on that officially soon, but, for now, you can get your issue 33 through the Lucire website, in print, for tablets (Ipad and Android), and as a downloadable PDF.—Jack Yan, Publisher

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July 11, 2014

For Every Minute débuts mid-winter merino line; Queenstown prepares for Clicquot in the Snow

Lucire staff/2.22

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Jack Yan

For Every Minute held its mid-winter VIP evening at Coco Wellington last night, with co-founder Kenzy Cheeseman holding court, and an even more lavish spread of macarons, guimauves and madeleines from French Cancan, teas from Harney & Sons, wine from Nautilus and water from Waiwera put on for guests. Ruth Armishaw performed live jazz numbers, and neighbouring Woodstock florist provided the flowers, giving the event a classier ambiance.
   As with For Every Minute’s previous event, models, and Cheeseman and Armishaw, were dressed in the company’s silk, loungewear, pyjamas and sleepwear, but there were more giveaways, including beauty treatment vouchers and silk eye masks.
   Cheeseman used the event to début For Every Minute’s mid-winter merino line, which to our eyes looked even more comfortable than the silk designs.
   In other antipodean news, Best Western has announced that Harley–Davidson riders will have more travel perks across its 67 participating Australia and New Zealand properties.
   HOG members who sign up to Best Western Rewards will be automatically upgraded to Platinum status, with 10 per cent bonus points on each stay, a welcome gift on arrival, complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late
check-out when available, as well as extra 10 per cent off their accommodation.
   Best Western International and Harley–Davidson extended their global partnership for three years in 2013.
   Finally, Veuve Clicquot will hold its Clicquot in the Snow celebration from July 30 to August 3 in Queenstown, New Zealand.
   The event, which has been held in Tignes and Aspen, sees Queenstown host everything from the Clicquot brunches at Pier 19, Steamers’ Wharf, from July 30 to 31, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (NZ$35), with a special session with guest DJ Vincent Hanna on August 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the Clicquot Snow Bar at the Coronet Peak main deck (10 a.m.–4 p.m.), where guests can get a bespoke menu matched with a flute of Veuve Clicquot and a complimentary pair of Clicquot touch-screen gloves; the Clicquot dégustation dinner on August 1 at the Wakatipu Grill at the Hilton (NZ$150; call 64 3 450-9400 to book); an evening with Kathryn Wilson and Veuve Clicquot, where the designer will showcase her spring–summer 2014–15 shoe collection at the Heliworks Hangar on August 2 (NZ$50, see www.kathrynwilson.com for tickets); the after-party at the Bunker on July 31 from 9 p.m.; and the late-night sessions at Barmuda from on August 1 from 9 p.m.









Jack Yan

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June 24, 2014

Kiwi artists exhibit in New York, while films on Raf Simons and YSL come to New Zealand

Lucire staff/15.22

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Four New Zealand artists are exhibiting in New York from July 1 at Forty:67, at the Artifact Gallery at 84 Orchard Street in the lower east side of Manhattan.
   The exhibition, which comprises painting, photography and jewellery-making, features the work of Sarah Elsby, Nikki Clark, Aphra Ellen, and Jodi Clark. Elsby and Ellen are mother and daughter, and Nikki and Jodi Clark are sisters.
   The work examines the ideas behind identity, place, and culture, or: what does it mean to be a foreigner transplanted to an international centre such as New York City?
   Elsby uses watercolours on paper, exploring the tensions between biomorphic and architectural forms. Photographer Nikki Clark contrasts New York City with the tranquillity of the Whanganui River, near where she grew up, and the similarity of the power in both locations. Jodi Clark’s painting explores how symbols can transcend cultures and history, ‘arranged so they become abstracted from their original intent; taking on a new meaning and life while still triggering memories and nostalgia,’ she says. Ellen’s hand-crafted jewellery has what has been described as a playful approach, inspired by organic forms and odd shapes.
   The gallery is open from 12 to 6 p.m. daily.
   Meanwhile, two fashion films will be part of the New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF), taking place between July and September in Auckland, Wellington and other centres.
   The first, Frédéric Tcheng’s Dior and I (France, 2014), is a behind-the-scenes documentary, following Raf Simons as he creates his first collection for Christian Dior, taking over from John Galliano. It’s already on Lucire fashion editor Sopheak Seng’s must-see list as the festival takes place.
   Yves Saint Laurent, which has had a lot of coverage in Lucire already, is the second film. This is the Jalil Lespert film, which opened in January 2014 in France, and was authorized by Pierre Bergé. (The rival film was authorized by François Pinault.)
   Session dates are available online from nziff.co.nz: the Auckland ones are up now, with the Wellington schedule appearing on Friday, and other centres on July 4.



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June 13, 2014

Mini re-creates Goodbye Pork Pie chase scene to launch fourth-generation model

Lucire staff/4.53

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When BMW launched its Mini at the turn of the century, it resisted doing the obvious thing in its marketing: reenacting The Italian Job. Over the years, various retro Mini marketing ideas have, nevertheless, surfaced, such as ‘Minis have feelings, too,’ re-created one Christmas, and for the New Zealand market, BMW is digging in to the Kiwi cultural archives for the fourth-generation version of the car: Goodbye Pork Pie.
   The Geoff Murphy-helmed film, released in 1981, is legendary in New Zealand, and Mini fans around the world know it, too. The chase–road trip film sees a yellow Mini 1000 head from north to south, and BMW has decided to re-create one of the scenes for a new promo débuting on June 17, starring the latest version of the car.
   New Zealanders who wanted to get a role in the film went to a dedicated Mini website to win a place in the passenger seat, with Wellingtonian Vincent Blake Chilton, 23, getting the prize. Matt Murphy, son of Geoff, directed the new scene, and chose Chilton out of 2,000 entries. Stunt driver Mike Eady put the new Mini Cooper S through its paces around Lake Hawea, with stunt coordinator Harry Dakanalis in pursuit.
   Below is a behind-the-scenes video from the shoot.
   The new Mini, unveiled last November in Oxford and at a star-studded London launch a few days later, starts at NZ$36,200.
   In addition to Goodbye Pork Pie, New Zealand has another cinematic Mini connection: it was where The Italian Job remake, Players, was filmed.



Below A still featuring the original Mini 1000 from the original Goodbye Pork Pie.

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June 6, 2014

Wellington’s entrepreneurial women: Lisa Tamati opens jewellery store; publishing house launches

Jack Yan/15.09

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Lisa Tamati, known in ultra-marathon circles, has a side to her that only a handful of fashionistas are aware of: she is a jeweller, trained in Wien, Austria, who has recently relocated from the Taranaki to Wellington, New Zealand.
   Tamati has opened a shop in Dukes’ Arcade on the corner of Willis and Manners Streets, where she retails her hand-crafted jewellery. She specializes in sterling silver, gold, gemstones, paua, jade and pearls. The designs show a finesse and delicacy, combining her Māori heritage and Pākehā education with the skills she acquired studying and working under Michael Eipeldauer in Wien.
   It is not her first endeavour into retail, having opened shops in Austria and in New Plymouth.
   Tamati is also selling her second book, Running to Extremes, at her store. Her first book, Running Hot, talked of her experience in ultra-marathons. She was the first Australasian woman to compete in the Badwater ultra-marathon in Death Valley, despite a crippling back injury sustained when she was 19. She had already faced an unassisted crossing of the Libyan desert as a personal challenge, and run 222 km across the Niger desert despite suffering from dysentery. In the follow-up, she goes further into the ultra-marathon world, including a second Badwater, the Gobi March, a Saharan race, and La Ultra, 222 km in the Himalayas.
   Despite these achievements, Tamati remains extremely humble and it was her guests at her store opening at the end of May, clamouring to get photographed with her, who were the focus of her attention.
   Tamati is not the only woman to launch a business in Wellington recently. Lawyer Clare Needham has embarked on an independent publishing venture, Giant Sparrow Press, releasing the company’s first title, ShameJoy, at an event earlier this week.
   Written by Julie Hill, ShameJoy—the English translation for Schadenfreude—has a unique New Zealand perspective as well as a dark sense of humour. Hill gave a reading of two short stories from the anthology on Tuesday, which delighted the audience at the launch, while the book itself is available online via Giant Sparrow Press’s website (www.giantsparrowpress.com/bookshop.html).—Jack Yan, Publisher

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