Review: Peter Pan by The Royal NZ Ballet, ASB Theatre
Published in NZ Herald 4 December 2009
Applause richly deserved for rollicking performance
Peter Pan closely follows the plot of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 book Peter Pan and Wendy on which it is based. Peter Pan and Tinkerbell fly through the nursery window of the Darling children, and whisk them away to Neverland to frolic with the Lost Boys, Captain Hook and his Pirates, Tiger Lily and the Redskins, Mermaids, a Never Bird, and a ticking Crocodile.
Here, a kiss really can stop poison, and a boy brandishing a sword can outwit a wily old pirate and make him walk the plank into the waiting jaws of a crocodile.
But here also, the limits of eternal childhood soon become apparent, and the Darling children opt to return home.
Review of Under the Influence by TMC Dance Crew, the Concert Chamber for Tempo 2009
Published in NZ Herald 20 Oct 2009
TMC Dance Crew’s Under the Influence is one of the most entertaining productions we’ve enjoyed in this year’s Tempo Dance Festival. At around 80 minutes of continuous, choreographed dancing, this is TMC’s debut evening-length production. It is a huge step up from the short-form competitive hip hop routines which have made them New Zealand champions and world finalists in the past three years, and the next level in their continuing development.
Review of Footnote Forte Season, various locations in the central city, Tempo 2009
Published in NZ Herald 15 Oct 2009
Keeping the audience on their toes in Lorne St
A series of intriguing, compelling solos designed for intimate, non-theatre spaces took the audience on a mini-tour of Lorne St during the Footnote Forte Solo Series in the Tempo Dance Festival.
Performances were presented in the Art Lounge at the New Gallery, a narrow elongated rectangular space shrouded by white curtains and glass walls; paintings provided the backdrop in the main gallery at City Art Rooms; and the mini-stage at Cassette9 was supplemented by a large hoop-shaped trapeze hanging near the bar.
The solos were commissioned from New Zealand choreographers given the joint task of highlighting the particular qualities of their assigned dancer and incorporating some reference to an iconic artist who inspired the choreography. This challenging combo was fruitful, with many resonances and masterly performances of dances that deserve to be presented more widely.
Review: The Teen Show, Tempo 2009
Published in Theatreview 9 Oct 2009
There is no denying the talent, verve, commitment and passion for dancing of the 42 teenagers who performed in this year’s youth dance programme The Teen Show at Tempo 09. Drawn from five of Auckland’s larger dance studios, many of these young dancers aspire to a dancing life, and their performances demonstrated their ability to respond to the limelight. Notably, 41 of the dancers were female – their male counterparts are embracing hip hop this year and can be seen in at least four different Tempo shows.
Review: Prime Cuts, Tempo 2009
Published in Theatreview 8 October 2009
Closing the programme is re:set, a gentle, playful and ultimately charming dance for two men, co-developed by Kristian Larsen and Geordan Wilcox. These dancers are well known as inhabiting different realms of dance despite overlaps in their training – real-time composition (aka improvisation) for Larsen, and ballet for former Royal New Zealand Ballet member Wilcox. Inevitably, the contrasting movement qualities of their backgrounds are a dominant element in what we see.
Preview article: Dream of the Red Chamber
Commissioned by Beijing Friendship Dance Company to distribute in press kit during March and April.
An all too rare opportunity to experience Chinese dance drama on the grand scale arrives 9 and 10 April when the 85 member Beijing Friendship Dance Company presents Dream of Red Chamber at the ASB Theatre. This impressive touring production premiered in Shanghai in 2006 and it has subsequently been internationally presented. Recent presentations in New York and Toronto have been warmly received, with special praise given to the company for fine solo and ensemble dancing, and to the production’s sumptuous costumes and power to draw the audience into the story.
Review: Sleep/Wake by The Playground NZ at Auckland Festival 2009
Published in NZ Herald 9 March 2009
Vignettes range from the literal to the surreal and absurd, taking place in and around a specially constructed Sleep Room with a collapsible back wall which allows visual access to the cavernous space beyond. This works brilliantly as a set piece, and also provides a visual metaphor for the way sleeping seems to open us to the vast universe of our dreams.
There’s a rich integration of choreographed movement, ranging from ordinary moving around to highly risky contemporary dance. Most impressive is the intense “pre-dreaming” sequence from dancer-sleepers Elizabeth Barker and Maria Dabrowska, from light, restless sleep into an increasingly agitated duet which includes sweeping back the sheets and moving in, over, along and around the beds, mixing astonishing leaps and dives with prone moments.
Review: The Kreutzer, Concert Chamber for Auckland Festival 2009
Published in NZ Herald 8 March 2009
The degradation of the marital relationship is camouflaged by aesthetics. The story is very beautifully presented in a drawing room (designed by Rob Larsen and Kate Logan) dominated by a grand piano. The back wall holds additional walk-in spaces – a boudoir, a railway carriage – and becomes a surface for shadowy silhouettes, overlay illusions, and other projected footage. The cast wear formal drawing room attire and there’s a continuousfirst–personn narrative from the Husband (Vadim Ledogorov), who not only narrates and interacts but also obsessively wields a video camera.
Book review: The Illustrated History of Dance in New Zealand by Tara Jahn-Werner, Random House New Zealand Limited 2008
Published in DANZ Quarterly, January 2009
Jahn-Werner’s narrative holds no surprises or new discoveries, rather it is a straightforward assertion of what is generally accepted as the most significant developments in social, recreational and professional dance, drawn together from authoritative sources such as recently published books, papers and reports, backed up by articles in journals, magazines and newspapers, electronic publications and websites, plus material from academic theses, unpublished papers and ephemera collections. By also drawing from publications about New Zealand theatre, music, architecture and social history, she has constructed relevant artistic and economic contexts for the developments she describes.
NB See also – Podcasts 2009-12