Above: Semifinalist Mia Hofsteede and finalists Seresa Lapaz and Elizabeth Lorimer with some of the products Miss Universe New Zealand contestants received.
Have you ever wanted to embody the flair and confidence of a Miss Universe contestant? Well now you can as we have access to some of the beauty products given to the 2016 New Zealand semi-finalists. The finalists, meanwhile, enjoyed the products while on retreat and they’ll be using them as they near the Grand Final on September 3 at Auckland’s Skycity Theatre. All the stress and drama of pageants need not be fretted over when you are gifted with a range of products to rejuvenate the body and the soul.
Of course all the smiling and speaking will eventually dry out your mouth, so it makes sense to use the Living Nature Lip Hydrator. It is an advanced lip balm in a stick to make it practical and easy to apply to the lips. The Lip Hydrator contains the active ingredient of manuka honey, along with an infusion of¬† butters and oils to deeply hydrate and condition the lips while mica gives lips a healthy sheen, along with natural sun protection. If you want universal nourishment then give the lip hydrator a go.
Do you desire the luscious locks of the contestants? Then why not try the Juuce Reviva Cream, in Argan Shimmer and Knot Knotty. These products are bound to nourish the scalp and give your hair some flair.
The skin of a contestant needs to be primed and ready for the cameras, so it makes sense for them to use the Body Shop’s Pink Grapefruit Body Lotion (60 ml). It is light and easily absorbed into the skin, with a zesty citrus scent to revitalize the senses.
They also received products from the Samala Cosmetics line, from one of New Zealand’s most respected make-up artists and educators, Samala Robinson, bottles of 1Above‚ÄĒthe Flight Drink, which helped finalists stay refreshed on their return flight to the Philippines for their retreat, and coconut water from UFC Refresh, a natural drink that helps keep skin looking good from the inside.
They¬†relax and unwind with Lipidol oils, designed to purify the skin with natural herbs. After a hard day’s work, it makes sense for the girls to use Lipidol products.
There you have it, the secret to looking good. When in doubt give these products a go to give yourself a glamour boost.‚ÄĒBhavana Bhim
Every opportunity to see the Royal New Zealand Ballet‚Äôs Giselle is a renewed pleasure. First performed in 2012, and garnering a great review from this publication for its outstanding choreography and production. Conceived in Wellington four years ago by then RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel, with Johan Kobborg, Giselle has become one of the company‚Äôs signature ballets, performed in China, the US, the UK, and Italy.
What was astonishing was being able to enjoy Giselle as though we had never seen the 2012 premi√®re: there was a freshness about the latest performance, despite our being familiar with the story. On opening night, Qi Huan, who had retired from the RNZB to teach at the New Zealand School of Dance, returned to take up the role of Albrecht, which we saw him perform in 2012. The years since his 2014 departure haven‚Äôt diminished his skills one iota: the ballerino still has a star quality that places him a cut above so many, and his entrechats in the second act showed the power and grace that we have come to expect from someone who has mastered his craft. Also performing Albrecht on other occasions is Daniel Gaudiello, former principal dancer of the Australian Ballet, who is similarly acclaimed.
Lucy Green took the title role on opening night and it was her youthfulness that gave Giselle a fresh take; the drama of Giselle descending into madness in the first act was so well done that one couldn‚Äôt help but sympathize with her character‚Äôs pain. Her pas de deux with Huan were exquisite and romantic.
Also of note was the extensive pointe work by the Wilis in the second act, which demonstrated that the RNZB remains on top of its game.
Jacob Chown‚Äôs Hilarion and Mayu Tanigaito‚Äôs Myrtha deserve mention in supporting roles: the dancing by both performers was integral to the story and Chown‚Äôs battle with the Wilis was emotionally done; Tanigaito kept the pace of the less plot-driven second act going with intricate skill till we saw what had happened to Giselle and Albrecht. Tanigaito also plays Giselle in performances where Gaudiello is Albrecht, and it‚Äôs not hard to see her take on the role with aplomb.
Stiefel returned to Wellington to fine-tune the production, working with his successor, Francesco Ventriglia, who was responsible for the casting of Huan and Gaudiello.
Marc Taddei conducted Orchestra Wellington, also giving the performance a new energy, performing the full-length score by Adolphe Adam. He will also conduct the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra when Giselle reaches those cities. Giselle opened in Wellington on August 11, before touring to Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Rotorua, and Palmerston North, where the season concludes on September 9. Full details are at the Royal New Zealand Ballet‚Äôs website, rnzb.org.nz.‚ÄĒJack Yan, Publisher
Above: The team behind A Billion Lives, and Doc Edge organizers Dan Shannon and Alex Lee.
Those of us outside the vaping world have probably looked at e-cigarettes, wondering why on earth these could be better for your health. Or we may have thought they were a fad, since the only people I knew who vaped were tech hipsters, who enjoyed vaping as though it was a matter of course, and nothing to be curious about‚ÄĒthereby keeping their habit a closed shop. But then, perhaps they were tired of repeating themselves, and had settled into being comfortable with their e-cigs. A Billion Lives is a documentary that takes a look into this world, but it does so much more. The title refers to the number of people who can be saved if they give up smoking, but there are powerful forces at play to ensure that people don‚Äôt. And those forces have ensured that there is misinformation about vaping and the potential for the technology to save lives.
Filmmaker Aaron Biebert, who directed and narrated the film which had its world premi√®re in Wellington as part of the Doc Edge Festival, journeyed to 13 countries on four continents to find similar patterns worldwide: here is a life-saving technology of e-cigarettes, but governments were banning them or fining citizens over their use, ignoring the science and deciding to be complicit with the tobacco industry in keeping people addicted to a harmful product. Instead, governments spend money spreading lies about e-cigarettes, calling them a gateway to cigarettes, or that one could get formaldehyde poisoning, claims that the film demonstrably refutes. E-cigarettes are not completely safe, and the film acknowledges that, but they have proven to be a successful tool to help those giving up smoking, especially where mainstream solutions have failed.
In his own country, the US, Biebert points out that governments collect far more revenue from cigarette taxation than from several industries combined, and have no real incentive to cut off the flow of dollars. E-cigarettes, which were invented by pharmacist Hon Lik in China, were conceived as a way to give up smoking, and have been successful for 30 million people around the world. A Billion Lives points out that nicotine is not what causes lung cancer, and that the US Surgeon-General has said as much. What are harmful are the tar and 4,000 chemicals in modern cigarettes. It equates nicotine with coffee in terms of addictiveness, and the figure of 95 per cent less harmful than a typical cigarette featured prominently in the film. Vaping essentially allows one to get the pleasure of nicotine without the harm of the tar and toxins.
Yet as a society, we have come to equate nicotine as being the evil, addictive substance, and that‚Äôs no accident.
This point is made halfway into the film, with a good part of the first section looking into the history of cigarettes (Flintstones sponsor announcements for Winston cigarettes elicited laughs from the audience), and David Goerlitz, the Winston male model from the 1980s, being a particularly effective interviewee, discussing how he went from a smoking advocate earning millions to having a crisis of conscience when his brother developed lung cancer and died. Goerlitz went to the other side, and became a high-profile spokesman who was able to talk in plain language just what governments, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma (which sells patches and gum, and would like to continue doing so) were doing. Health professionals were being marketed to far more than the public, permitting Big Pharma to continue to sell its products, the film notes.
Biebert was able to get other interviewees at a very high level, including Dr Derek Yach, the former executive director of the World Health Organization, and Dr Delon Human, former president of the World Medical Association, among others, speaking plainly about how lives could be saved through vaping e-cigarettes, a tool which could get smokers to kick their habit.
Meanwhile, the pro-smoking side was represented through historical clips‚ÄĒyou get the feeling that we had only touched the surface of what was out there, with corporations spending thousands of millions to fund biased studies and get on to our airwaves.
Beautifully shot and scored, this independently funded feature tells a story about our times and just why so many citizens today are wary of their governments and multinational corporations. Those who oppose global trade agreements, for instance, do not do so in isolation‚ÄĒand while A Billion Lives takes no political side, it does tap into the Zeitgeist of our modern suspicion about what is on our airwaves and what are the motives behind it. Like Adam Curtis, whose documentaries seek to explain the complex in simple terms, Biebert has done the same, narrating and directing, although he appears on camera as well when narrative gaps need to be plugged. He is an honest, frank speaker, and gives the film a personal touch.
Young smokers who tried e-cigarettes were often people who already smoked and saw them as a way to give up their addiction, and most, Biebert pointed out in a post-screening Q&A, were not even using nicotine in their e-cigarettes.
Yet the state of California, where Biebert is based, spent $75 million telling us about the evils of e-cigarettes, said the director in his Q&A; while in the film, he points out that US federal funds were being illegally used for lobbying activities. The American Lung Association had deceived the public, too, notes Biebert, who told the audience, ‚ÄėIf you get powerful charities on side, you can do anything.‚Äô The increasing restrictions on e-cigarettes in the US, the subject of federal lawsuits, was equated to ‚ÄėProhibition II‚Äô.
Dr Marewa Glover of End Smoking NZ, who introduced the film at its premi√®re, said that young people were using e-cigarettes as a way round peer pressure, when people in their circle smoked.
However, Australia has already banned e-cigarettes, with one interviewee, Vince, who sold them, telling a story about being raided by authorities and now faces losing his home as he fought the government on principle. He believed firmly he was saving lives. There are massive fines for vaping in Brunei and Hong Kong. There were restrictions in New Zealand, too, noted Glover, although those who sought to misinform were technically in breach of the country‚Äôs health legislation.
Biebert says he is neither a smoker nor a vaper; but all good documentary-makers, he had a commitment to get the right information out there. He acknowledges that vapers have not given themselves the best image, either, and that A Billion Lives can only be one small part of getting the truth out.
‚ÄėWe need to cut the head off the monster,‚Äô said Biebert, ‚Äėand the monster is being funded by big business. We need more than the movie. People need to get the right information.‚Äô
He added, ‚ÄėThe truth ends up winning. Even condoms were illegal in the US at one time.‚Äô A Billion Lives will begin making its way to other countries. The website is at abillionlives.com, while the movie‚Äôs Instagram is at abillionlivesfilm.‚ÄĒJack Yan, Publisher
Above: The author (centre) joins Aaron Biebert, director (left) and Jesse Hieb, producer, for a photo.
I truly hope Francesco Ventriglia‚Äôs The Wizard of Oz will be performed all over the world, because this family-friendly ballet has all the ingredients for first-time and seasoned watchers alike. What we saw at the world premi√®re tonight in Wellington were skilful dancing, moments of contemplation, beautiful staging and design, and a masterful matching to the music of Francis Poulenc.
Based on the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, rather than the 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz, audiences are helped by the familiar storyline, which is common to both. Ventriglia keeps the basic idea but takes some different parts from the book compared to the well known film, and in the adaptation to a ballet enhances certain scenes. The structure is of a classical ballet, as are many of the dance moves, including some neatly executed lifts and catches in two pas de deux in Act II, between the Prince and Princess of Porcelain (William Fitzgerald and Laura Jones on opening night), and the Wizard (Fitzgerald again) and Dorothy (Lucy Green).
Ventriglia forgoes the cyclone in favour of a simpler Dorothy in hospital with a coma, watched over by her Uncle Henry (Sir Jon Trimmer), but once she is deposited in the land of the Munchkins, you know that the action has started. The use of this device is very personal to Ventriglia, and can be traced back to when he was five years old in Genova, when he noticed that a girl in isolation in a children‚Äôs hospital had gone from her bed one day. His mother told him that she had gone to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz.
A blue sky backdrop links each scene with Dorothy, and on its first appearance in Act I, lights up one‚Äôs mood. Gianluca Falaschi, The Wizard of Oz‚Äôs designer, approaches the set with both creativity and sensibility. Doors open up revealing different scenes behind the sky set, depending on the context, but it works well, giving the stage additional depth. Watch out for both the Emerald City, which borders on a bright discothèque‚ÄĒand no, there are no shades of 1974‚Äôs film The Wiz here‚ÄĒand the Kingdom of Porcelain, which is revealed in the second act. There is one beautiful touch near the close of the second act where the Wizard offers to take Dorothy away, but the fear of revealing spoilers prevent me from telling you just what Falaschi has created.
The costumes deserve extra mention. Glinda, the Witch of the North, danced by Abigail Boyle with plenty of movements en pointe, sparkled with a bright white costume that featured 1,000 sequinned butterflies, giving her an other-worldliness; this contrasted Dorothy‚Äôs simpler farm dress that Falaschi says took its cue from the film. Dorothy‚Äôs multiple costume changes‚ÄĒher "saucer tutu" for the Porcelain scene, for instance‚ÄĒhint at the chequered pattern of her original dress, so audiences are clear that Green is dancing in the same role. The Witch of the West (Mayu Tanigaito) only has the Flying Monkeys for her allies in this version, but she enters the stage looking sinister, her outfit having connections to more adult themes but considerably toned down for a family audience. The Flying Monkeys, meanwhile, are bare-chested but masked while they are under her spell, wearing large, black skirts. Elaborate, dominating movements convey their evil intent, while the chandeliers and prison cage on the set contrast with the simplicity of the blue sky of Dorothy‚Äôs world.
Scarecrow (Loughlan Prior) deserves additional mention since he is the first character to follow Dorothy and, therefore, has a greater role on stage; Prior‚Äôs floppy, soft movements convey his character‚Äôs construction neatly. Tin Man (Massimo Margaria)‚Äôs metallic detailing on his outfit wasn‚Äôt as easily seen and almost looked as though he was wearing a body colour, but thankfully this newer interpretation allowed the ballerino much freer movement. Jacob Chown got into his Lion character from his first moment on stage, right through to when he took a bow.
Felipe Domingos, as the Guardian of the Emerald City cut a distinctive figure with his flowing movements, and shone in his first scene; Harry Skinner‚Äôs Yellow Cat, chasing after the mice played by Linda Messina and Tonia Looker, was a particularly likeable comedic performance (though one wonders why the cat is bigger than the dog: Toto is a stuffed toy in this version). Watch out, too, for a tap-dancing scene as Green dons red shoes instead of the Silver Shoes from the book.
Falaschi is inspired by 1930s bathing costumes, flapper dresses and cloches, and a bellhop‚Äôs uniform for the Guardian, all of which he works in to give The Wizard of Oz, a visual feel that is its own. In all, 37 new costumes were created for the production.
Jason Morphett‚Äôs lighting was particularly clever, as Falaschi‚Äôs box set forced him to use lights in the corner. He based his concepts on Poulenc‚Äôs music, which lent itself well to visuals thanks to its lyrical nature. I tend to find lyrical scores can paint a scene better than those founded on sound effects, and the compilation of various Poulenc compositions, compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters from two dozen recordings, worked well as a complete ballet. Ventriglia calls the score ‚Äėvery cinematic,‚Äô and that seems a very apt description. As detailed in our preview, the ballet began life as an unperformed, single-act ballet, which Ventriglia first conceived when artistic director of Maggio Danze in Firenze. There is an additional meaning here, as Ventriglia, who hails from Italy, has had to ask himself just what ‚Äėhome‚Äô means, as Dorothy had to discover: ‚ÄėMy conclusion is that home is where you feel grounded and comfortable within yourself,‚Äô he writes in the programme. ‚ÄėFor me that place is the dance studio.‚Äô
The work, he writes, has been adapted to the dancing style of the company and the new inspirations he has found in New Zealand since his arrival a year and a half ago. The Wizard of Oz achieves its aim of being a big-story ballet that appeals to everyone, and audiences will be delighted at this latest production.
The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz kicks off in Wellington on May 4, and will visit nine centres around New Zealand: Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Napier. Further information can be found at the Royal New Zealand Ballet website, www.rnzb.org.nz.‚ÄĒJack Yan, Publisher
Footnote New Zealand Dance‚Äôs NOW 2016 (New Original Work) programme, which hit Wellington tonight after performances in Auckland, presents four original works by New Zealand choreographers Julia Harvie, Sarah Knox, Lucy Marinkovich and Jessie McCall. It‚Äôs a particularly enjoyable programme, mixing meanings, humour and, in the case of Elephant Skin, a lot of balloons.
Each performance begins with a voice recording that sets the stage for the dance that follows, although viewers are still invited to make their own interpretations. Centerfolds (sic) begins with a humorous look at gender stereotyping, with the company‚Äôs male and female dancers wearing masks with a bun and dresses, signalling that we often take these cues and make automatic assumptions about a strict male‚Äďfemale duality. Marinkovich looks at roles such as waitress, housewife, heroine, songstress, supermodel, and others, questioning our conditioning; and while not every role appears as costumed characters, they are represented through the varied music choices. Masks play a part throughout, along with multiple costume changes, ensuring that Centerfolds never drags for a moment. Your Own Personal Exister is one of our favourites, as it examines not only existentialism but its opposite, inauthenticity. McCall does this with the notion of how, at a children‚Äôs birthday party, we feel the centre of attention when we wear our paper ‚Äúcrown‚ÄĚ, but what if that crown was never removed? It‚Äôs an allegory of the selfie era, the ‚Äúlook at me‚ÄĚ validation some seek. Three of McCall‚Äôs dancers don crowns, but one doesn‚Äôt, although he is unaware of this till some way into the performance. Yet this need consumes him eventually, and he joins the inauthenticity of the others.
One of the regular techniques here had dancers opening their mouths facing upwards while recorded voices played, which worked particularly well, and the voiceover was poignant at the conclusion of the performance (which we won‚Äôt spoil here). And what happens when that crown is removed, where does that leave us? Despite the smaller number of Footnote dancers involved, this was a particularly powerful work that was danced beautifully. Elephant Skin takes a humorous look with balloons landing on stage at random points, sound effects creating more laughs, and a particularly brave dancer blowing up a balloon till it popped. Harvie explained in a post-show forum that she wanted freshness and tension in the performance, because as humans, we are problem-solvers, and the dance, too, should solve the problem of the randomly placed balloons. There was, of course, an overall structure which the dancers worked around, and one scene where white balloons stood in for clouds as one performer floated across the stage, before the others began popping the cloud around her.
Harvie also noted that she has a fascination with balloons and that they have a human element to them. Disarming Dissent is the most energetic of the four in terms of getting the dancers to generate forceful movements, and by this time one is marvelling at their stamina. Rowan Pearce‚Äôs music reached crescendos twice as the energy built up. Dance, exercise and martial arts combine here as Knox talks about the fight we have against the system, but then how we pacify ourselves, drawn back by either that very system or our own impulses.
The Wellington premi√®re at Te Whaea had a unique forum at the end which featured the dancers, Harvie, general manager Richard Aindow as host, and artistic liaison Anita Hunziker.
The Auckland performances have been (April 15‚Äď16), Wellington has one more night (21st, at Te Whaea), Dunedin is on April 28 at Mayfair Theatre, and those in Invercargill will see NOW 2016 on May 1 at Centrestage during the Southland Festival. For tickets and information, head to footnote.org.nz.‚ÄĒJack Yan, Publisher
The Royal New Zealand Ballet released more news about its much-anticipated premi√®re this year of The Wizard of Oz, conceived by its artistic director Francesco Ventriglia.
Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, the ballet will be in two acts and will stay true to the source material.
It began its life in Firenze in 2013 as a one-act ballet but was never performed. Ventriglia took the opportunity to re-create it for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, with the music of French pianist and composer Francis Poulenc. Poulenc’s style is melodical, with the production using the music from his jazz age, earlier in his career. Ventriglia says the score is ‘a greatest hits of Poulenc,’ compiled by RNZB pianist Michael Pansters.
Said Ventriglia in a release, ‘This story is very close to my heart. I loved it as a child and feel that it holds many truths that are too easily forgotten or overlooked in adulthood. I‚Äôm delighted to choreograph this ballet for my New Zealand dancers and to have its world premi√®re in New Zealand‚ÄĒmy new home.’
He added, ‘Each character has their own dance vocabulary‚ÄĒclassical pointe work, barefooted contemporary ballet, and even some ruby slipper tap dancing.’
Sets and costumes were designed by Gianluca Falaschi in Italy. Ventriglia said, ‘There‚Äôs tutus for the porcelain world, Munchkins in 1930s-style bathing suits, bare-chested flying monkeys, butterfly-gowned Good Witch, exaggerated bustle and black corset for the Wicked Witch and of course loads of green sequins, red glitter and gingham.’
The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz kicks off in Wellington on May 4, and will visit nine centres around New Zealand: Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, and Napier. Further information can be found at the Royal New Zealand Ballet website, www.rnzb.org.nz.