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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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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 11:08 pm 
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Tragic love in La Dolce Vita
By Donald Hutera for The Times


THE Royal New Zealand Ballet’s current six-week tour is a reminder that culturally the country is capable of more than big-screen epics about ring-bearing Hobbits. Next Tuesday Sadler’s Wells will host the British premiere of a triple bill shared between UK-based choreographers Mark Baldwin, Javier De Frutos and Christopher Hampson. But the tour actually kicked off in Manchester this week with Hampson’s slant on Romeo and Juliet.

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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 4:00 am 
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Quote:
Romeo and Juliet

By JUDITH MACKRELL
The Guardian
April 23, 2004

The roll-call of choreographers who've stamped their image on Romeo and Juliet is dauntingly heavyweight, and for 32-year-old Christopher Hampson, creating his first version for New Zealand Ballet, the immediate challenge has been to dodge comparisons with his elders. His first smart move has been to update the action as far as possible from its familiar renaissance setting.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2004 2:12 am 
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Kiwi ballet aims at London debut

The BBC website has a piece about the New Zealand Ballet today.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/3660657.stm


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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2004 4:13 am 
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Quote:
Epic feud reduced to a scrap

By ISMENE BROWN
The Daily telegraph
April 27, 2004

Christopher Hampson is a rare bird, a young British ballet choreographer nurtured within a national company – English National Ballet – and one capable of making big, exciting work, peaking so far with Double Concerto in 2001.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:28 am 
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Quote:
Royal New Zealand Ballet

By JUDITH MACKRELL
The Guardian
April 29, 2004

We may find it flattering that Royal New Zealand Ballet are touring the UK with a repertory choreographed by British-based artists. But the fact that all the ballets were commissioned within the past three years reflects even better on the company's own creative health and on the nerve of its director Gary Harris.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:45 am 
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ARTS: New Zealand Ballet Sadler's Wells, London

By CLEMENT CRISP
The Financial Times
April 29, 2004

The Royal New Zealand Ballet, in London after a long absence, opted for an introductory triple bill which only just (thanks to choreographer Javier de Frutos) escaped disaster.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:51 am 
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Fruits of labour for Kiwi ballet

By MARY BRENNAN
The Scotland Herald
April 29, 2004

The swish and rustle of flouncy 1950s petticoats, gang fights with baseball bats and flick knives – at first glance, Royal New Zealand Ballet's Romeo and Juliet looks like West Side Story on pointe with added arabesques.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2004 9:52 am 
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Seeing a company hitherto unknown to me is usually a special pleasure but on Tuesday evening as I made my way to Sadlers Wells Theatre I got caught in the mother of all rainstorms which had transformed nearby Upper Street into a virtual river. There was no option but to wade across and as a consequence I was forced to sit through the evening in sodden trousers and squelching shoes, so it was very much to the credit of the Royal New Zealand Ballet that I very soon forgot about my considerable discomfort.

The three choreographers making up the triple bill were all familiar names and two of them are British, but it was the Venezuelan Javier De Frutos who contributed the outstanding work of the evening. “Milagros” is Spanish for Miracles and the music is that choreographer-magnet The Rite of Spring, presented here rather unusually in the form of a piano roll played by Stravinsky himself. This is a ballet of profound beauty with images of humanity that touch the heart. Dressed in unusual costumes of filmy long sleeved tops with faint numbers on the back and long voluminous skirts (worn by both sexes) designed by De Frutos himself, the dancers are able to glide effortlessly across the stage as if on rollers, their feet hidden under layers of petticoats. The dancers form circles to become a ring of limping cripples and then form a group of ancients, bent with age. They split from the collective to form smaller more intimate groups, they become sick in the body and in the mind, one couple dances racked with pain and a man expresses indifference as a girl lays at his feet and lifts her skirts. There is even a reference to Nijinska’s Les Noces as the girls form a pyramid of heads. Subtle Spanish touches occur in the tilt of a chin and the sweep of an arm, the skirts are caught up at the waist like a flamenco dancers and feet come down in a stamp.

This is a magnificent work that captures the energy and drive of one of the greatest pieces of music in existence. The young dancers are totally convincing as they portray the troubled souls dancing out their anxieties to Stravinsky’s compelling rhythms and De Frutos proves yet again that he is developing into a choreographic master.

The first item of the evening was lightweight by comparison, but I still liked very much Christopher Hampson’s attractive “Saltarello” which is apparently inspired by the Decameron. The fourteenth century music was very striking, with something of a Greek flavour and the men’s costumes reminded me of Robert North’s “Troy Game”, a similarly energetic work. The atmospheric lighting gave the piece a sense of mystery as the dancers performed a series of ensemble dances peppered with humour here and there. Not one of Hampson’s best but enjoyable none the less.

Definitely not enjoyable was the closing work of an otherwise impressive programme. Mark Baldwin’s FrENZy (no, that’s not a typing error) danced to music of “New Zealand’s most celebrated rock band”, Split Enz. It was a hectic piece with the dancers frenetically performing to 70’s and 80’s pop. More like a variety show number than anything else I found it pretty hard going and started to become aware of how wet my feet still were after my earlier soaking. My companion loved it though and he plans to buy some Split Enz CD’s at the weekend. What’s that saying about one mans meat being another man’s poison?

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is currently in the middle of a UK tour and is appearing in both Glasgow and Edinburgh with this programme. I know we have some keen ballet fans in Scotland and look forward to reading their views too, as I really recommend a visit to this vibrant young company.


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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2004 11:34 am 
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Quote:
Gladiator meets Skippy the kangaroo

By ISMENE BEOWN
The Daily Telegraph
April 29, 2004

New Zealand is on the second-to-last page of my atlas, with only Antarctica following. That's about how far out of sight and mind the Royal New Zealand Ballet is in world ballet terms.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Sun May 02, 2004 1:35 am 
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If you must insult me, do it properly

By JANN PARRY
The Observer
May 2, 2004

Christopher Hampson's Romeo and Juliet is a vivid, imaginative account of Prokofiev's score, set in Mafia-controlled Verona. Capo's daughter Juliet falls for Romeo, a café owner; Tybalt is a gangster, the Capulets his enforcers. Hampson's turbulent public scenes are strong but he can't quite deliver the intimate love duets.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2004 10:27 am 
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Royal NZ Ballet wins praise from British press

The New Zealand Morning Herald
April 27, 2004

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has won praise from British dance critics at the start of its six-week, six-centre British tour of Romeo and Juliet.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2004 9:16 am 
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Of Rites and Romeos

By ZOE ANDERSON
The Independent
May 3, 2004

It is strongest in Javier de Frutos's Milagros. This is a Deep South Rite of Spring, set to a pianola recording of Stravinsky's score. Men and women in long white skirts, circle and dip; a chosen maiden (Pieter Symonds) is singled out early on, then allowed to fade back into the crowd.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2004 10:31 pm 
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Romeo and Juliet

By KELLY APTER
The Scotsman
MAy 6, 2004

On the one hand, this show oozes originality - the cinematic feel, almost brutal violence and decade-hopping costumes. But on the other, it feels well-worn and comfortable. This is thoroughbred ballet, steeped in classical tradition and deeply respectful of Prokofiev’s genius score.
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 Post subject: Re: Royal New Zealand Ballet in the UK - 2004
PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2004 10:44 pm 
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Royal New Zealand Ballet: Romeo and Juliet

By MARY BRENNAN
The Scotland Herald
May 6, 2004

...the company did recruit more bodies to flesh out Verona's otherwise empty environs – the stage manager unexpectedly found himself pressed into service and a costume. We assume he didn't have to rise on pointe.
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