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 Post subject: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2003 5:11 am 
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KIWI SEASON OF UK FIRSTS

21 April-­ 29 May 2004

Kiwi talent is coming in force next year when the Royal New Zealand Ballet embarks on its first ever UK tour and swaps Gisborne for Glasgow, Wanganui for Wycombe, and other home territory names like Akaroa, Rotorua, Twizel and Taranaki for Salford, London, Edinburgh and Bath. The entire RNZB company of 32 dancers, under the artistic directorship of Gary Harris, is bringing a dynamic showcase of specially commissioned works from internationally renowned choreographers - all of them UK premieres. As well as a new full-length ballet of Romeo and Juliet, commissioned from our own choreographer Christopher Hampson for the company¹s 50th anniversary in 2003, it brings a Triple Bill programme of works with strong links to UK-based dance creators, including Mark Baldwin, Javier De Frutos and, again, Christopher Hampson.

ROMEO AND JULIET

Choreography- Christopher Hampson
Music- Serge Prokofiev
Designs - Tracy Grant
Lighting - John Rayment
First performed 6 June 2003

Hampson¹s 20th century version of this timeless love story resonates with passion and conflict and seamlessly blends the purity of classical ballet with dramatic intensity. The choreography shows off individual strengths and ensemble work and provides the young couple with real love duets, while their families dance politics and their friends dance trouble.

Both choreographer and designer, Tracy Grant, attribute inspiration to cinematic classics in making this production relevant and contemporary: hints of West Side Story and Baz Luhrmann¹s avant-garde masterpiece Romeo and Juliet empower the settings, while the Jackie ?O¹ styling and jewel-encrusted gowns encapsulate the ballet in the glamour and excesses of La Dolce Vita Italy. The authentically vicious fight scenes with bats, knives and chains owe their invention, in part, to Matrix Reloaded, while the tragic aftermath echoes movie melodrama.

Although the innocent young lovers are still at the heart of the tragedy, Hampson augments the roles of the Capulets to reflect the wider carnage of the rivalry between the warring families, allowing the company every opportunity to display their dramatic talent as well as virtuoso technique. In a world of extremes ­ hate versus love, age versus youth and death versus life - Grant¹s movietone vision with costume accents of blood red is atmospherically lit by John Rayment, who is the lighting designer for the whole UK tour repertoire.

The UK premiere of Romeo and Juliet at the Lowry, Salford on 21 April 2004 is especially significant as it is practically the hometown of Manchester-born Hampson. The production will be performed at every venue on tour, with Prokofiev¹s most famous ballet score played live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia (Salford, London, Wycombe and Bath) and the Orchestra of Scottish Opera (Glasgow and Edinburgh) under the baton of British conductor Gavin Sutherland with orchestration by John Longstaff.

TRIPLE BILL PROGRAMME

SALTARELLO
Choreography- Christopher Hampson
Music ­ compilation 14thC music
Designs ­ Gary Harris
Lighting ­ John Rayment
First performed 1 March 2001

The inspiration for this intimate piece by Christopher Hampson is from Giovanni Boccaccio¹s masterpiece, Decameron, written around 1350. It tells the story of a group of young noblemen and noblewomen who withdraw from plague-ravaged Florence to a hideaway outside of the city where they entertain themselves with singing and dancing for ten days. Influenced by the verve and pace of the music and the isolated setting, they are free to express themselves away from the scrutiny of their community and flirtatiously explore the chemistry between them. This work is set to Italian music of the same era - a time when the saltarello, a spirited dance of energetic movements and jumps, was incredibly popular.

The dancers are challenged with moves that range from slinky elegance to explosive energy and their taut bodies are shown off to great effect by the steely silver and black costumes designed by Gary Harris, now artistic director of RNZB.

MILAGROS
Choreography ­ Javier De Frutos
Music ­ The Rite of Spring for Piano Roll, Igor Stravinsky
Designs ­ Javier De Frutos
Lighting ­ John Rayment
First performed 1 February 2003

Milagros is the Spanish word for miracles, but also for the votive offerings left at churches or shrines. Venezuelan-born Javier de Frutos has set this abstract work to a pianoroll version of Stravinsky¹s Rite of Spring played at breakneck speed. As the tempo intensifies, the dancers respond with an increasingly desperate search for their sacrificial offering, whirling like dervishes.

The dance is full of disturbing imagery ­ of pilgrimage, religion, sensuality, anger, terror, love and passion. Both male and female dancers are dressed in voluminous tattered white dresses (designed also by De Frutos) that echo the gowns worn in a thousand different rituals from baptism to sacrifice. De Frutos also cites his passion for Tennessee Williams as an influence on the design: the idea of the faded southern belle as a figure consumed with memory and decay.

FrENZy
Choreography - Mark Baldwin
Music - Split Enz
Designs - Tracy Grant
Lighting - John Rayment
First performed 13 June 2001

This high-octane ensemble piece, hugely popular with home audiences, is a truly kiwi creation. Choreographer Mark Baldwin, well known to UK audiences as artistic director of Rambert Dance Company, was born in Fiji, grew up in New Zealand and was a dancer with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. His first work for RNZB, FrENZy, is a witty and wild celebration of the music of New Zealand¹s most celebrated rock band, Split Enz who wrote the soundtrack for the lives of a generation of Australians and New Zealanders and achieved cult status in the US and UK. Baldwin brings to life the Finn brothers¹ greatest hits like Shark Attack, Charlie, Poor Boy and Dirty Creature, as well as lesser-known early Enz works, more than 30 years since the band first hit the airwaves. Pointe shoes, silver tutus, zoot suits and quiffs capture the eccentricities and humour of the band in bold designs by Tracy Grant with lighting by guru of the art form, John Rayment.

FrENZy was originally part of a full-length work entitled Ihi Frenzy in which Royal New Zealand Ballet performed alongside a 40-strong Maori kapa haka group, Te Matarae I Orehu, in a powerful collaboration in 2001. Baldwin worked closely with their choreographer, Wetini Mitai-Ngatai and incorporated several traditional Maori motifs into his own choreography, adding another significant dimension to the work.

Notes:

The Royal New Zealand Ballet UK tour is managed by Askonas Holt Ltd and is funded in part by Arts Council England.

www.ballet.co/rnzb already has news and reviews of the company, as well as the ongoing Christopher Hampson diary (readers can trace the full choreographic story of the kiwi Romeo and Juliet). In the lead-up to the UK tour ballet.co will feature an interactive forum, interviews, picture pages and competitions.

Company Background:
The Royal New Zealand Ballet was founded in 1953 by Danish Royal Ballet Principal Dancer Poul Gnatt. The company ¹s early days of touring embodied the New Zealand pioneering spirit. Performing night in night out, company members unloaded and repacked the set, rigged the lights and ironed the costumes, with local community members providing accommodation. The spirit of these days survives, and the support of the New Zealand public remains. The Royal New Zealand Ballet is seen as an intrinsic part of the country ¹s national heritage, and has the largest following of all New Zealand performing arts companies. The Royal New Zealand Ballet today has developed a reputation for strong characterisation in the staging of full length dramatic works, which became a hallmark in the 1980s.To this base have been added the masterworks and major ballets of the 20th century, such as Balanchine ¹s works and the Stravinsky ballets. The dancers of the Royal New Zealand Ballet possess a unique physical strength and versatility, and a well developed sense of individuality. New international and New Zealand choreographyexpresses these qualities and features prominently in the company ¹s repertoire. In 2001 the company appointed a new Artistic Director -Gary Harris, who has a distinguished background as a teacher, choreographer and designer. The company is now based in Wellington in newly built premises at St James Theatre.

UK TOUR DETAILS

SALFORD The Lowry
Rome and Juliet only ­ UK premiere - 21-24 April
Booking open 1 Sept 2003. T.0870 111 2000 www.thelowry.com

LONDON Sadler¹s Wells
Triple Bill (UK premieres) 27 & 28 April. R&J (London premiere) 29 April-1 May
Booking open. T.020 7863 8000 www.sadlerswells.com

GLASGOW Theatre Royal
Triple Bill (Scottish premieres) 4 May, R&J (Scottish premiere) 5-8 May
T.0141 332 9000 www.theatreroyalglasgow.com

EDINBURGH Festival Theatre

Triple Bill 11 & 12 May, R&J 13-15 May
T. 0131 529 6000 www.eft.co.uk

HIGH WYCOMBE The Swan
R&J 18-20 May Triple Bill 21 May
Booking opens 9 February
T.01494 512000 www.wycombeswan.co.uk

BATH Theatre Royal
Triple Bill 25 May, R&J 26-29 May
Booking opens March 2004
T. 01225 448844 www.theatreroyal.org.uk

<small>[ 08 October 2003, 07:11 AM: Message edited by: kurinuku ]</small>


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