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Tutus on Tour (2013)
Bournonville, Tudor, Baldwin, Simmons, Eddy & Bradshaw

at Q, 305 Queen St, Auckland
29 Nov 2013
[91 mins]

Reviewed by Felicity Molloy with Emma Kemp, 28 Oct 2013


Theatres are occupied by people who play a variety of roles. Emma (aged 10 years) and I had quite recently taken hold of the familiar space of Q Theatre and in our latest entry, amidst a new expectant capacity crowd, we felt as though we belonged.  

From Emma:

Thank you soooooo much for taking me to the ballet, I had such a great time. These are some things I thought about the dance.

Things I like:

  • I like their control over the dance and how they don't wobble or show any different facial expressions when doing a balance.
  • I like the spinning, balancing on the balls of one foot using special shoes.
  • I like in one piece the lights go on and off at the beginning.
  • In some pieces you feel like the man and the woman have a great relationship.
  • I like how they smile throughout the whole piece.
  • I like that when the music speeds up the dance speeeds up.

Critical things:

I didn't  think the pink leotard  costume for Little Improvisations was suitable. The dancer's facial expressions didn't seem to match the way they related to each other , and I didn't like the way the female dancer was treating the man. 

I didn't really like the fact that in some pieces you couldn't tell the story.

I think kids and adults aren't that different and they would probably think the same thing about the dance.

From Felicity:

Tutus on Tour is a way for the Royal New Zealand Ballet to bring ballet dance to a wide range of audiences. I remember another life in Impulse Dance Theatre and Limbs Dance Company days, and I don't remember the programmes being adjusted accordingly. As Emma puts it in Critical points:  I think kids and adults aren't that different and they would probably think the same thing about the dance.

A medley of duets commences the first half of the programme. Bournonville's, Flowers Festival at Genzano strikes me as the beginning of an historical, with global references journey. Both Mayu Tanigaito and Kohei Iwamato dance with a requisite ballon and deft charm.

An early perplexity at the company's decisions about programme narratives, parochialism and deeper objectives is forestalled in the second duet. The gloriously arch, camp and cool work, Charlie pas de deux from the longer ballet, Ihi FreNZy choreographed by New Zealander Mark Baldwin, is a throwaway slash of elegance. Barely costumed, Loughlin Prior plays the languid hero impeccably and his leggy, sulky woman, Maree White growls her way across and around his body.

Though culturally and choreographically secure, and danced with ease and grace by Katherine Grange and Kohei Iwamoto, the third duet is harder to rationalise. Little Improvisations, a simplistic tale of rainy weather in London and what little kids with fantastic ballet technique might do to while away the day. I am struck by the effort of a child to understand this work; see Emma's points to this dance – see above!,

And Through to You is different. Here we see the place of ballet as divertissement in New Zealand by New Zealanders; beautifully etched dancing, intelligent couple work and lights that spark the imagination again and again.  the aesthetic contributions of lighting designer, Nigel Percy are of note here.  Abigail Boyle and her partner, Paul Mathews, through grace and effortless beauty, define each of their expressive moments as a generous and thoughtful gift. Sometimes the dancers back out of light, sometimes light captures the moment, making for a delicious dialogue within a range of intrinsic elements that make up any dance. Dancing and lighting are also in partnership with the music, Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part, and this work is easily the mostly likely to have audiences feel and treasure the aesthetic memorabilia that ballet dance has to offer the world.

The final work in the first half is a pas de deux from Don Quixote, danced by Bronte Kelly and Helio Lima. Lima, though magnificently in charge of the theatrical intentions of the choreography, performs grand jetes minutely constrained by the space. Occasionally his frustration breaks open the performance ground for a potentially new offer of ballet reality inside the theatre, and even the ornate red tutu derives a sort of parodist question rather than fitting as the more obvious costume of pretense.

Funky self-made satirist, Te Radar (A J Lumsden) in a flash turquoise suit sets the scene as narrator for the second half's panto work. Peter and the Wolf, choreographed by Catherine Eddy and Brendan Bradshaw is a tongue in cheek display with simple and fun references to the NZ Ballet Company' own history of making work and provides multiple opportunities for the dancers to play comedic roles.  A pyjama'd Helio Lima settles in as a cheeky, precocious Peter, with lovely segues between technical display and storytelling matched by his grandmother, played by Abigail Boyle. Of particular note are the sweet and sassy duck, danced by Mayu Tanigaito, the Bird, danced by Bronte Kelly and the sexy Cat, half moggy-half Cat woman Madeleine Graham. The notion of flight is captured by two shadows, Dimitri Kleioris and Paul Mathews, and extended as a provocation to this evening's performance. Prokoviev's familiar music taunts us with familiar memories, of being a child at the ballet, of being in love with ballet, of being a child in the ballet, of wanting to do ballet forever.

 Touring dance around the country is important. Tutus on Tour is as much for the dancers to bust out of the eternal black boxes of rehearsal spaces, the ballet studio and maybe even the theatres, to be real people. As in the words of NZ Ballet company founder, Poul Gnatt, ballet “should truly belong to everyone”. In many ways Tutus on Tour succeeds as an introduction to the splendour and power of ballet to transport an audience out of the day to day, to ask questions about its relevance to today, and it sits well as a delicately poised rendering of a different version of culture and history, through the empathic eyes and dancing bodies of artists.

 


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