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Giselle, a Royal New Zealand Ballet favourite, returns for May–June 2021

Filed by Lucire staff/March 29, 2021/0.06


Giselle is back: the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s acclaimed ballet from 2012, which toured the world after its première in Wellington, and which became a 2013 feature film by Toa Fraser, will return in May and June 2021.
   Conceived by former RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel and choreographer–director Johan Kobborg, Giselle was praised by this magazine both at its début and its 2016 tour. We wrote in 2012: ‘it distinguishes itself through clever choreography … stunning costumes by Natalia Stewart, and Kendall Smith’s lighting (and lightning). Howard C. Jones’s scenic design gave Giselle a visual depth, using different shades to gain perspective, and making the production feel even grander …
   ‘The high standards in these areas complemented the outstanding choreography and production by RNZB artistic director Ethan Stiefel and Royal Ballet principal dancer Johan Kobborg. Stiefel and Kobborg, both of whom have danced the role of Albrecht, have collaborated brilliantly …’
   Audiences will have a chance to experience it again in Wellington (May 12–15), Palmerston North (May 19), Napier (May 22–3), Auckland (May 27–9), Christchurch (June 4–5) and Dunedin (June 9). Hamish McKeich will conduct the Adolphe Adam score with Orchestra Wellington, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in those centres, with the Wellington recording used elsewhere. More details can be found here.
   RNZB artistic director Patricia Barker says, ‘We have reached into our vault of precious gems and great, beloved ballets, and can’t wait to be on stage again with Giselle. New Zealand audiences and dancers have shared an almost 70-year love affair with this ballet, which continues to enthrall us all with its elegance and timeless story.’

 


Dr Martens to open in Wellington December 19, with tattoos and live music on the day

Filed by Lucire staff/December 14, 2020/2.27

Wellington’s getting its own Dr Martens store, at Shop 2, 94–106 Cuba Mall, as of December 19.
   And those who shop on the day and buy a pair of Docs can get a permanent tattoo from Cuba Street Tattoo’s Grant Gebbie (conditions apply).
   From 1 p.m., Crystal will play a set in front of the store.
   The new store will have the largest range of men’s, women’s and children’s styles in the country, including Dr Martens Originals, Made in England, full vegan ranges, global collaborations, and accessories.
   ‘Dr Martens’ introduction into our country’s capital is a match made in heaven,’ said Ben Hapgood, Dr Martens’ group general manager for New Zealand. ‘The distinctive “stand out from the crowd” theme of Dr Martens will be well received by the Wellington market and its placement on Cuba Mall couldn’t be more suitable. The store will offer customers an extensive range of Dr Martens products not always seen in the local market and we are excited to get Wellingtonians proudly wearing them.’
   The Wellington store is the second in the country, after Auckland.





Above: Dr Martens’ Auckland store gives an idea of what the Wellington one might be like—come Saturday, all will be revealed.

 


A welcome return to the ballet, with RNZB’s The Sleeping Beauty

Filed by Jack Yan/October 29, 2020/12.34





Stephen a’Court

Top: Kate Kadow as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Above: Kate Kadow and Laurynas Vejalis as Prince Désiré. Kirby Selchow as Carabosse and Sara Garbowski as the Lilac Fairy. Kirby Selchow. Kirby Selchow and Clytie Campbell as the Queen.

How fortunate we are in Aotearoa New Zealand to be able to attend events while the world battles a pandemic, and judging by the opening night of The Sleeping Beauty at the Opera House in Wellington, audiences were more than ready to be entertained by the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
   It was a wise decision to put on a classical ballet for the end of the year, with choreography after Marius Petipa and staged by the RNZB’s artistic director Patricia Barker, with the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky score performed by Orchestra Wellington, conducted by Hamish McKeich. This was a safe bet that would bring audiences in, and what better in 2020 than a sense of the familiar, performed by some new faces in prominent roles, and an energetic company that has been all too ready to show the country—and the world—what it has to offer.
   This was the first time Lucire has seen Kate Kadow in a lead role, that of Princess Aurora. Kadow had plenty of difficult manœuvres to perform, and had to be present from Act I (or Chapter Two, as listed in the programme) through to the end. A challenging pas d’action at the end of Act I—the Rose Adagio—saw Kadow en pointe for a particularly lengthy period. This is a famous pas d’action, which Kadow carried out well, and deservedly earned a round of applause. She had similar, if not as lengthy, en pointe balances in other parts of the ballet. One hopes we will see more of this experienced American-born dancer in prominent roles with this company.
   Kirby Selchow relished the role of Carabosse, and reminded us just why so many actors—and dancers, for that matter—like the role of the villain. Audiences do take to them, and without spoiling it with specifics, her entrance was one of the grander and more entertaining ones for any baddie of late.
   Sara Garbowski, as the Lilac Fairy, might be the one to watch—though it should be mentioned that the role has been a prominent one for some time, in some cases more so than Aurora’s. It’s the Lilac Fairy that has to countermand Carabosse’s spell, and she is present from the prologue through to the end.
   Prince Désiré, performed by Lithuanian-born Laurynas Véjalis, had a wonderful grand pas de deux with Kadow in the final wedding scene, with some technically tricky steps. He made holding Kadow in his arms look effortless despite the technical difficulty and strength required.
   This was a family ballet, with any scenes that might disturb children completely toned down: Désiré’s battles with Carabosse’s minions in the forest are done with plenty of dry ice on stage, and the villains are dispatched quickly; and we must also say that the awakening of Aurora was innocently done.
   Humorous moments for the children, bearing in mind this is a two-hour, 45-minute production, include the pas de deux between Puss in Boots and the White Cat (Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson and Leonora Voigtländer respectively). And it’s always a good lesson to not go for the bad boy, as Aurora does with the Rose Adage.
   Ballet masters Clytie Campbell, Laura McQueen Schultz and Nick Schultz assisted Barker in staging the ballet, and Michael Auer served as dramaturge.
   Donna Jeffris’s costumes were a stand-out, particularly the Queen’s sparkling gown and the use of tulle; meanwhile her work for Carabosse had a dose of drama and darkness, while Morfran’s epaulettes hinted at a certain army that terrorized Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
   As usual, the scenic design, by Howard C. Jones, is of a particularly high standard, including the use of digital elements on a screen, such as growing vines around trees during the 100 years Aurora is asleep. Jones worked on the RNZB’s much acclaimed Giselle.
   Jones’s design also saw the use of Bodoni display type at the beginning of each chapter, explaining, in poem form, what lay ahead, making the ballet accessible to younger audience members.
   A technical glitch on opening night did see the type fail to display for the prologue, necessitating a restart with the overture performed again—the sort of minor thing that is easily forgivable after nearly a year without a ballet to attend. In fact, the audience applauded to show their understanding and appreciation.
   The child performers in the ballet added to the family touch, and their role in the garland dance was particularly well choreographed and danced.
   The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Sleeping Beauty runs from October 29 through December 12, touring nationally. Further details can be found at the RNZB website.Jack Yan, Publisher


Ross Brown

Above: Kate Kadow as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

 


A sense of belonging

Filed by Jack Yan/June 17, 2020/11.16


Jack Yan

Above: Wellington, New Zealand’s Lambton Quay, normally a main thoroughfare, during that country’s lockdown.

Over the last two issues of Lucire KSA, we ran a story each on COVID-19. The first examined how companies fared after previous economic crises, looking at the past for answers. Last month, we examined what companies were doing in response to the pandemic, a report from the present. This month, it may be prudent to take some punts about the future.
   Even before the COVID-19 crisis, China was selling cars with air filtration and purification systems, such as the Oshan X7 and the Geely Icon. These two SUVs were responding to the pollution that plagues Chinese cities, and when the Icon was launched in February, its system was turned into a positive selling point as fears about COVID-19 mounted. When the X7 was revised in March 2020, its system received an upgrade, to allay fears about the novel coronavirus. But these are minor product enhancements, for what is the point of these SUVs during a lockdown when driving is curtailed?
   We often refer to the automotive sector in Lucire because it’s one of the most evident places where brands and trends emerge, and with fewer players than in fashion, it’s often easier to see what those might be. Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice-president for global car design, pointed out to Forbes that after each major crisis—he uses World War II as an example—there is a creative surge, and that the US car industry of the 1950s picked up on it, with ‘a promise of the future.’ He says, ‘Many times, this whole “vision of tomorrow” comes from the difficulties of today. So I think we as people will express our emotions physically and you’ll see this in all the arts.’


GM

Oshan

Above, from top: Oldsmobile Golden Rocket, a 1956 show car from GM that pointed to an optimistic, jet-age future. The Oshan X7 SUV, with a standard air purifier.

   Other emotions that have emerged during this time include loneliness, in those countries or communities that are facing a lockdown, and the desire for human contact, alleviated somewhat by the knowledge that many are in the same boat, and by the ease of digital contact in developed countries, with VR, Skype and Zoom, the latter entering the vernacular and enjoying a massive rise in popularity, despite privacy concerns. But on the flip side are emotions of appreciation, in countries where governments have acted and people have been unified.
   Travel editor Stanley Moss, based in Italy, chatted last month to the general manager of the Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venezia, Gianmatteo Zampieri. Stanley reported in our web edition that the conversation was ‘lively’, rather than pessimistic, when at the time Italy had one of the most troubling COVID-19 numbers on record. He writes, ‘The Rialto Bridge is deserted, and uncrowded phantom vaporetti lazily float by. The St Mark’s Basin stands empty, with only stray small craft passing.’
   Mr Zampieri remarked, ‘The Lagoon is like a mirror. There’s not a boat to be seen, the water is crystal clear, and schools of little fish are swimming in the canals. We have a gondola landing at our entrance, and we are seeing little crabs crawling up the gondola poles. Ducks are nesting on the vaporetto docks, and laying eggs there.’
   Stanley continues, ‘Mr Zampieri has an optimistic perspective on all this. He says that following these difficult times we’ll be given a chance to return to a Venezia renewed, where the air and water are clean, landmarks uncrowded and Baglioni’s teams rested and ready to welcome back guests.’
   Many will have seen the photos of Venezia’s clean waterways, or how the Himalayas are now visible from the state of Punjab, India, where they had been hidden due to air pollution. At Lucire’s HQ in Wellington, New Zealand, native kererū pigeons can be seen flying in flocks and close to homes, whereas before they would be seen individually or in pairs, seldom venturing quite so closely into neighbourhoods.
   Lockdowns saw an appreciation of the quietness and the absence of noise pollution, a silver lining for those who were forced to stay home.
   In economies that are opening up, the hum of traffic has returned, along with rush hours, immediately rendering the rural-like quietness nostalgic.
   It may well accelerate certain emerging movements. It’s not difficult to link this love of nature to better air quality, less pollution, and the desire for improved public transport or alternative fuels. With fashion such a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—Quantis estimates c. 8 per cent can be attributed to apparel and footwear, while 114,000 million items of clothing were sold in 2019—fast fashion has become more exposed during the crisis. A shocking 70 per cent of the product winds up in landfills or is incinerated, and inventory is currently growing in warehouses around the world. The Business of Fashion estimates that fashion is an industry that will need between US$20,000 million and US$30,000 million per annum to meet global climate and development goals in the coming decade.
   With several of my colleagues at Medinge Group, the Swedish think-tank dealing with brands with a conscience, we summarized in one session how we have become more acutely aware of how natural resources should be used sustainably, how many indigenous populations have been appropriate guardians of them and of global biodiversity, and how it has been possible to opt for self-sufficiency and sourcing a lot of our food locally, potentially boosting a localization movement.
   Somewhere in between these truths is an understanding that collaboration and co-creation are potential ways forward for the industry: to both consume more mindfully and produce more responsibly. Climate activists like Greta Thunberg rightly point out that earlier generations could have done better, and COVID-19 may have woken more up to the idea that change can happen, and we can create a better way.
   It would seem more important, then, to look at brands and responsibility, both of which are beginning to be the ways out for many sectors.
   In the 2020s, it is becoming more evident that brands should promote a sense of belonging, because people agree with its values and wish to be seen to be connected with them. Perhaps the analogy of a desirable club is not inaccurate. The top–down approach of the generation before, mass marketing products through mass media, is history: it does not build brands, and is better left to low-cost retailers keen to push short-lived product over quality. In 2020, in the midst of COVID-19, there is no stigma to having less tidy hair or older clothes, because neither signals a lack of standing; and a brand pursuing a profit strategy over one centred around purpose may find such an approach off-putting to its audiences.
   Improving the pay of workers, for instance—something our fashion feature interviewee in this issue, Johan Graffner of the Swedish label Dedicated, does with its suppliers—has been shown to make them more productive. Essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis have been praised as people have come to appreciate the value of their work in providing our necessities. Reworking and reframing the relationship workers have over their work could be a way forward: that those who invest their labour have the same voice as those who invest their capital, something pushed for by a group that counts Profs Nancy Fraser, Thomas Piketty and thousands of scholars from around the planet. They note that a strategy centred purely on profit has led us astray. Providing dignity, however, may be more in line with how people have come to feel over their work.
   Fair Trade impacts the workers living in places where work has been outsourced. Simon Anholt, in his book Brand New Justice, goes further with suggesting a shared equity model. Building environmental and social strategies into the brand is yet another step that could be taken, with measurable outcomes—many metrics for this already exist. Kering (the parent to Gucci, YSL and others), for instance, has an Environmental Profit & Loss Account, which assigns a financial value to environmental impact.
   The other reset must come with our use of resources. If collaboration with one’s own workers is possible, then it must equally be possible to work with those who understand biodiversity best. My colleague at Medinge Dr Nicholas Ind writes, ‘Indigenous people represent 5% of the world population, but manage 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity.’ Yet this traditional knowledge is often overlooked, though it would be fair to say that people appreciate its value far more in the midst of this crisis.
   These greater goals are more appealing to the consumers who will emerge in a post-COVID-19 landscape. However, shifting to it, and giving it more than lip service, will require governmental support, the third limb in making this model work. Many territories have shown that working together with government and governmental agencies can defeat the virus: Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand are among those that have experienced a largely unified approach and brought new daily infections close to zero. We can work on the same side. Intervention may be justified when it comes to wages, to prevent the temptation to force them down in order to maximize profits. Without governmental input, that US$20,000 million to US$30,000 million per annum target cannot be easily achieved.
   In such a context, it has made the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 particularly prescient as it sought to insulate the country from precisely such shocks by diversifying the economy and the labour force. The brands that have emerged now need to visibly demonstrate that they have desire, as well as the means, to be part of a better world—and make us want to belong.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Royal New Zealand Ballet to broadcast Hansel & Gretel online from Friday, April 3

Filed by Lucire staff/April 1, 2020/10.40

Commencing Friday, April 3, the Royal New Zealand Ballet will broadcast performances, originally recorded live, through Facebook Première—and you don’t even need a Facebook account to watch them.
   Hansel & Gretel, which premièred in Wellington last November with the support of Ryman Healthcare, is first up, with performances taking place on Friday, April 3 at 7.30 p.m., Saturday, April 4 at 1.30 p.m. and Sunday, April 5 at 10.30 a.m. The performance runs for one hour 45 minutes, with an interval. The ballet was choreographed by Loughlan Prior (his first full-length ballet) and scored by Claire Cowan, with designs by Kate Hawley (whose cinematic credits include Suicide Squad, Edge of Tomorrow, Pacific Rim), lighting by Jon Buswell, and visual effects by POW Studios. Lucire reviewed the ballet première last year, asking rhetorically: ‘what can be made when you have every creative firing on all cylinders?’
   Kirby Selchow and Shaun James Kelly are in the title roles, and Hamish McKeich conducts Orchestra Wellington.
   ‘Last year, audiences around New Zealand fell in love with our zany production of Hansel & Gretel,’ says RNZB artistic director Patricia Barker. ‘Being faced with so much uncertainty as we are glued to our televisions for any good news, we at the RNZB thought we could all use a little extra sweetness and pick-me-up. We are so pleased to be able to share this special ballet, 100 per cent made in New Zealand, with audiences again. Stay tuned for further announcements!’
   RNZB executive director Lester McGrath adds, ‘We have an amazingly loyal following on Facebook, and they are already used to tuning in to live-streamed events such as our annual participation in World Ballet Day. However, you don’t need to have a Facebook account in order to enjoy these broadcasts. We encourage anyone and everyone with internet access to make the most of this great opportunity to connect with their national ballet company.’
   The company is also putting together online resources for those isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic. RNZB Education’s NCEA resources are available, and ballet masters and dance educators are developing online classes. Vodafone is the RNZB’s telecommunications’ partner.
   Full details can be found at rnzb.org.nz/live.

 


March 28: an Instagram round-up during COVID-19

Filed by Lucire staff/March 28, 2020/11.44

It’s actually refreshing that we haven’t heard much from celebrities and influencers during the pandemic; instead, press coverage has been on doctors, nurses, other frontline health care personnel, and essential workers who are keeping our countries moving.
   Out of interest, we thought we’d take a look at a selection of Instagram accounts—something we haven’t done for years here at Lucire—to see just what a cross-section of “names” are sharing.
   New York model Imani (@champagnemani) shows that you can be stylish and comfortable while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, tagging the Working from Home Fits account (@wfhfits). Imani’s wearing items from NewTop Jewelry (@janes8103), Eckhaus Latta, and Ugg boots.
   Model Bree Kleintop (@breekleintop) is out dog-walking in Alo Yoga, though there’s no telling when the photo was actually taken. We know that Kleintop is self-isolating from an earlier post—don’t we all have several thousand photos on our phones?
   Actress Franziska Knuppe (@franziskaknuppe) reminds us not to lose our positive vibes during the pandemic, and for those who are at home, she has a new shoot and interview in the latest German edition of Gala. The magazine photo was taken by Frauke Fischer, with make-up by Melanie Schoene, using Shiseido.
   We couldn’t ignore one politician: New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern), possibly the only PM who has an infant at home toilet-training. New Zealand is in a four-week lockdown in the fight against COVID-19, and the PM is no exception: while still showing up for press conferences, she’s observing the 2 m physical distancing rule, while at Premier House in Wellington, she has a “bubble” with her fiancé and daughter. Ardern shared a Lego Duplo tower and reminded people they can get official information on the country’s COVID-19 fight at the government website, www.covid19.govt.nz. After all, no one wants to wind up like Boris.
   Rising model Tehya Elam (@precioustehya) wished a friend happy birthday with artwork of a sunflower, sending out a personal wish during these uncertain times. Earlier in her account she shared Psalm 91 in a call to others to have faith.
   Parisian model Mika Schneider (@mikaschndr) is staying at home, too, but managed to do a shoot. Considering the limited circumstances we’re all facing, the four shots are excellent, and shows that models are keeping themselves entertained—not to mention adding to their portfolios.
   Russian model Viki Odintcova (@viki_odintcova) used an earlier photo shot by Aleksander Mavrin while relaying a more personal message in Russian, lamenting the fact her diary is less packed during the pandemic. She had managed to get herself organized with a new system, before things came to a halt, her meetings now on Skype, and filming on hold. She’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things again and travelling. Till then, it looks like Odintcova’s staying put, too.
   Finally, Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) says she misses being outside in her city and also walking her dog, sharing an older photo with her wearing Inamorata, her own label.

 


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