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 Post subject: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 6:43 am 
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Hi all,<P>This is my first time at this forum, and hence my first posted review here. Hope this will be of interest to anyone. Thanks!<P>Malcolm <BR><A HREF="http://www.inkpot.com/theatre" TARGET=_blank>www.inkpot.com/theatre</A> <BR>---------------------------------------<P><BR>Presented by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars was a sumptuous two-night programme that toured Auckland and Wellington, with two pairs of guest performers invited for this occasion: Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur, Regular Guest Principals with the English National Ballet; Lisa-Maree Cullum and Oliver Wehe, Principal Dancers with the Bayerisches Staatsballett München. Performed at the ASB Theatre in Auckland (30-31 August), the Auckland Philharmonia accompanied the Auckland leg of this show.<P><I>Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes</I>, by Mark Morris.<P>In this imaginative parody of the ballet class, Morris cleverly distorts the classical line and positions without going too far, taking the archetypal classroom exercises to a more complex level, creating a structurally dense, yet refreshing ballet for a cast of twelve. With pianist David Guerin centre-stage working Virgil Thomson’s thirteen piano études, the white-costumed dancers travelled in twos across the stage, alternating quick turns with hand-joined balances. The usual walk-her-around promenade became a laborious carry-her-around for four couples, with the women leisurely inclined in their partners’ arms. Seemingly simple steps, from the demi-plié to the sauté in second position, were performed in patterns that became increasingly complicated, resulting in all-too-brief moments where it looked like a chaotic mess of arms and legs. Despite a little uncertainty on some occasions, dancers of the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) coped admirably with this demanding piece.<BR> <BR><I>Grand Pas Classique</I>, by Viktor Gsovsky.<P>Made as a showcase for virtuosic classical technique and first performed in 1949, Lisa-Maree Cullum and Oliver Wehe, delivered an overall steady performance of this typical grand pas de deux. Cullum was light and elegantly poised in her every move, pulling off her series of piqué turns and chaînés with incredible ease, knocking double turns in between her multiple fouettés. Wehe, described as “a technically very strong virtuoso”, was in relatively fine form, though it looked as though he needed the extra hunch in his back to get through his leaps and jumps.<P><I>Don Quixote</I> pas de deux, after Marius Petipa.<P>Taken from Act III of the full-length classic, Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur seemed totally at home with this gala staple and all its haughty, Spanish posturing. As a sultry Kitri in a red and black number, Oaks displayed excellent bodily control in her effortless échappés to the music, long balances on point, and stiff arabesque penchés even when hoisted in the air by Edur. Every bit the suave matador in black, Edur was the steady partner with his own set of tricks, executing turning assemblés and high, scissor-leg leaps. <P><I>Impromptu</I>, by Derek Deane.<P>Oaks and Edur have earned much praise for their rendition of this duet, and this performance was no less praiseworthy. Accompanied by Guerin’s capable performance of Schubert’s Klavierstücke in E Flat minor, it is a fluid, lively work with a delicate, lyrical middle, interpreted by the Estonian-born pair with great aplomb and sensitivity. Symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes flowed through their bodies, picture-perfect fish dives were frozen in time, with beautifully sustained, spiralling lifts. Originally set on Antoinette Sibley and David Wall in 1982, it was hard not to imagine this delectable pas de deux as a poetic conversation between two lovers.<P><I>Le Corsaire</I> pas de deux, after Marius Petipa.<P>Yet another frequently performed showpiece, from the complete ballet based on Lord Byron’s poem “The Corsair”, this time taken on by the RNZB’s Chen Jianguo and Yo Otaki. Chen does not have the same presence as others (say, ABT's Angel Corella) who have performed this role, but his tight, compact frame zipped through his turning leaps with an almost razor-sharp finish. Yo was gracefully composed and showed off a competent series of fouettés.<P><I>Nuages</I>, by Jiøí Kylián.<P>In this 1976 creation, classical ballet is given a muscular, grounded edge, leaving the torso free to flex and bend, the arms defiantly extended or brandished in eagle-like curves, crafting a sensuous, sculptural upper bodyline. Performed by Cullum and Wehe to the sombre, haunting score by Debussy, interaction between the two was tense, as if taut with fear and anxiety, yet classically fluent. With its treacherously elaborate lifts (such as when Wehe whirled Cullum around by her arm and supporting leg) and intricate moves (such as when Cullum twirled readily on one knee), this was a much-welcomed break from the evening’s prevailing classicism, and an ideal vehicle for these Munich-based artists.<P><I>Allegro Brilliante</I>, by George Balanchine.<P>After what felt like a lacklustre opening, the RNZB dancers came back to close the evening with this exuberant, plotless piece for ten. As the orchestra fired up Tchaikovsky’s Third Piano Concerto, the ballet began with four couples running in circles while the curtains were raised. With Cameron McMillian and Larissa Wright leading the cast, the dancers bounded joyously, be it in unison or in separate formations, to the jubilant score. <P>But for someone who has yet to see the entire Balanchinian repertoire, this thirteen-minute ballet seemed neither distinctive nor sufficiently brilliant in design, as compared to some of his other works. Nevetheless, when delivered with such assurance by the RNZB dancers, it made for a strong, solid ending to a night of luminous dancing. One can only hope for more of such talents, both local and foreign, to grace the New Zealand stage.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Malcolm Tay (edited September 02, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 7:16 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Thank you for this Malcolm. I've never seen this company and would love to.


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 7:28 am 
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Malcolm Tay - welcome to the criticaldance board - it's a pleasure to have you here.<P>And thank you also for this very interesting and well written review.<P>I had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand a number of years ago and very much enjoyed the country and its very friendly people. Four of whom pulled our car out of a muddy ditch!! Then invited us to their homes for supper.<P>We spent two weeks touring around North Island. Unfortunately we had to cancel the South Island portion of the trip, because of some bad storms. But I do treasure the memories of that beautiful country.<P>I look forward to seeing more of your reviews and having your input into our discussions.<P>Once again, welcome!


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 7:44 am 
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I thought I would add this link to the Royal New Zealand Ballet's web site:<P><A HREF="http://www.nzballet.org.nz/company.html" TARGET=_blank><B>Royal New Zealand Ballet</B></A><P>and a couple of other recent interesting threads on the company:<P><A HREF=../../../ubb/Forum4/HTML/000994.html><B>New AD for Royal New Zealand Ballet</B></A><P><BR><A HREF=../../../ubb/Forum4/HTML/000186.html><B>News from Royal New Zealand Ballet</B></A><p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited September 02, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 3:06 pm 
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Hi Basheva,<P><BR>Thank you very much for the warm welcome!<BR>Glad to know that you've visited the North Islands before. I'm not Kiwi, actually, but an undergraduate from Singapore on a student exchange programme at the University of Auckland. Though I haven't found any serious dance fans yet, it's been great so far, especially the nice collection of dance videos at the Music Library - I'm looking forward to watching Doris Humphrey's "With My Red Fires/New Dance" very soon :-)<P>Once again, thanks for the welcome and if the opportunity arises, I hope to take part intelligently in any discussion here. By the way, excellent links on the RNZB.<P><BR>Malcolm


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 5:22 pm 
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Hi Malcolm, I'm an undergraduate from Singapore too. Nice to see you here! Also the Flying Inkpot's redesign looks great, it's been one of my favourite sites for a long time.


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 9:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Malcolm, what a nice surprise! I suspect that this is the first NZ review we have had from a reader. I really do hope that it is the first of many and please do feel free to tell us about any aspects of NZ dance.<P>Oakes and Edur are special, I have seen their 'Impromptu' and enjoyed it as you did.<P>Do let us know your views on Doris Humphrey's "With My Red Fires/New Dance". If it is as good as Jane Dudley's 'Harmonica Breakdown', another 30s US work, which I saw live last year, then there won't be any need to make allownaces for the age of the work. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited September 02, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2001 10:58 pm 
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shazna: Hi, nice to meet you. Are you in NUS or NTU? In any case, hello :-)<P><BR>Stuart: Hi, nice to finally post a review here. I hope that other NZ readers will post their own reviews of dance performances throughout NZ. I, unfortunately, will only be in Auckland until early December.<P>Aspects of NZ dance... well, I haven't really got the opportunity to do some in-depth searching on dance in NZ. There is, of course, the Royal NZ Ballet, based in Wellington and getting a new Artistic Director - outgoing AD Matz Skoog, as we all know, will be joining the English National Ballet. <P>There are also several contemporary dance companies, one of which is the Auckland Dance Company (formerly Auckland Ballet, I think), headed by Mary Jane O'Reilly. O'Reilly was part of the now-defunct Limbs Dance Company, which also counted Mark Baldwin as a member. Incidentally, there is a "Limbs Retrospective" in late October.<P>And I'm sure there are some in the South Islands as well. Not to mention the rich performing arts of the indigenous Maori - the ferocious, wardance "haka" (made famous by the All Blacks at each rugby game), and the graceful mills and circles of the female "poi" dance. <P>Interesting to note that the RNZB and Maori performing arts group, Te Matarae I Orehu, recently collaborated for a season (between June and July this year) entitled The Meridian Energy season of Ihi FrENZy. It's perhaps the first time that ballet and the Maori "kapa haka" have shared the stage on such a large scale. <P>As for Humphrey's "With My Red Fires" and "New Dance", I forgot to mention that the video shows a reconstruction of these 2 pieces from the American Dance Festival in 1972. I was quite surprised that they were over 30 minutes long, since it was Humphrey who wrote "all dances are too long." <P>Choreography-wise, they are indeed something to behold. It's hard to describe everything since these were large-scale ensemble pieces with so much happening at one time. Marcia B. Siegel's book "The Shapes Of Change: Images of American Dance" has a very detailed description of "New Dance", and a bit on "With My Red Fires". <P>But personally, I couldn't stand the costumes for "With My Red Fires" - the men had this weird strip across their bare torsos, which I thought was so redundant. The Matriarch's dress had sleeves that were just too poofy, but I guess that's the idea. The role of the Matriarch does come across as rather campy, so I don't know how audiences today will react if "With My Red Fires" were to be staged again.<P>So that's my thoughts for now - apologies for not sounding very intellectual :-) <BR>Interestingly, the dance department of the School of Creative and Performing Arts (at the University of Auckland) is having a summer school dance intensive project in January 2002, which will involve reconstructing Doris Humphrey's "Water Study". I'm sorry that I won't be around to see it. <p>[This message has been edited by Malcolm Tay (edited September 03, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2001 8:52 pm 
Malcolm, are you also going to see the Bolshoi gala in Auckland? Actually it may have taken place already, I can't remember.


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2001 10:08 pm 
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Hi Kevin,<P>Yes, I'll be going to the Stars of the Bolshoi performance. The tour starts in Auckland on 22-23 September, so I haven't missed it yet Image I wonder why Matz Skoog called the Bolshoi tour "a dime a dozen"...


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2001 8:37 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<B>The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars at the Aotea Centre</B> <P>By BERNADETTE RAE The New Zealand Herald<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>It was truly an evening of stars. There was Lisa-Maree Cullum, expatriate New Zealander, showcasing the technical and artistic sparkle that illuminates her career in the elite altitudes of European dance. <P>There was her handsome stage partner, Oliver Wehe, another stunning luminosity - especially in his white tights. <P>There was the gravity-defying Thomas Edur, the gorgeous masculine half of the Estonian dance partnership, usually in high orbit in more northern skies, alongside the beautiful, fairytale Agnes Oaks. <P>And there were our more familiar stars, dancers of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, who took their place in these classical, formal and highly mannered celebrity proceedings with a significant twinkle.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?thesection=entertainment&thesubsection=&storyID=213179" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Air New Zealand Gala Evening of Stars - presented by
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2001 10:44 pm 
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Is it just me, or is Bernadette Rae close to drooling over the male danseurs? Image


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