Civic Theatre, cnr of Queen Street & Wellesley Street West, Auckland

12/03/2015 - 15/03/2015

Auckland Arts Festival 2015

Production Details


12 March to 15 March 2015

The Civic

One of the hottest companies on the block, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet will make its New Zealand debut from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 March, during Auckland Arts Festival 2015.

Already famous for its diverse dance repertoire, the New York-based company boasts some of the most high-definition, super-skilled and wildly beautiful young dancers in the whole of the Big Apple. 

Cedar Lake’s utterly unafraid approach to integrating ballet with contemporary and popular dance, and their undeniably urban vibe sets them well apart from their peers.

The company collaborates with the world’s most sought-after choreographers and emphasises acquiring and commissioning new works by emerging dance makers as well. As a result, Cedar Lake has amassed one of the most diverse repertoires in dance, including works by Alexander Ekman, Andonis Foniadakis, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Ohad Naharin and Jiří Kylián.

In New Zealand for the first time, Cedar Lake performs a triple bill by three of the most interesting choreographers to have emerged over the last decade – Crystal Pite, Hofesh Shechter and Jo Strømgren.

Described as “one of the hottest choreographers on the planet”, Crystal Pite’s award-winning, innovative works feature her signature quirky movement style, a mix of the ballet culture she trained in and the daring experimentalism she learned under trail-blazing choreographer William Forsythe.

Earthy and blunt, Hofesh Schechter’s works are characterised by action and raw energy. The Israeli- born choreographer is renowned for his dynamic use of rhythm and subtle manipulation of spatial dynamics.

Artistic director of Jo Strømgren Kompani, Norwegian Jo Strømgren has developed a significant personal style of choreography with a mix of theatre, dance and stand-out music – amusing audiences whilst creating works for dancers that are a lot of fun to perform.

Prepare for a heady mix of innovation, fearlessness and gobsmacking gorgeousness which only a company like this can offer.


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was founded in 2003 by Wal Mart heiress, Nancy Walton Laurie.

A truly international company, its dancers hail from Australia, France, Brazil, Portugal, South Korea, Las Vegas and New York City. Many are highly regarded and  in demand for work in the commercial world,  performing onstage and in music videos with Rhianna, Britney Spears, Ciara, Fergie and Beyonce.

Whilst maintaining a rigorous touring schedule, the company runs outreach and educational programmes and workshops for school children, local communities and dance professionals from its New York studio.

“A New York success story… with an A-list repertoire” – The New York Times, USA

“Fierce, unforgettable dancers and repertoire” – Berkleyside, USA





Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet


The Civic


Thursday 12 March, 7.30pm

Friday 13 March, 6.30pm

Saturday 14 March, 7.30pm

Sunday 15 March, 5.00pm


2hrs 10mins approx with two intervals


Premium $87.00

Premium Friend/Conc/Group $81.00

A Res $77.00

A Res Friend/Conc/Group $72.00

B Res $67.00

B Res Friend/Conc/Group $62.00

C Res $45.00

D Res $35.00


Book at Ticketmaster outlets: www.ticketmaster.co.nz/ P: 09 970 9700 or 0800 111 999



Social Media

Facebook: facebook.com/Aklfestival

Twitter: @Aklfestival



Media enquiries

Meredith McGrath, Publicist

P: +64 (0)9 3740317 M:+64 (0)27 4473247 E: Meredith.mcgrath@aaf.co.nz

Sponsored by Rendezvous Hotels with support from the Embassy of the United States of America.



Dance , ,

2 hrs 10 mins

Sterling choreographic lineup

Review by Bernadette Rae 13th Mar 2015

The It company from New York City boasts 14 of the best dancers that the money of its founder and funder Wal-Mart heiress, Nancy Laurie, can buy and what those 14 fabulously honed and interestingly diverse beings can do is certainly superb. It is a party of instantly recognisable personalities – gorgeously Amazonian Ebony Williams, dynamic Matthew Rich with a long swishing ponytail, wistful-faced Vania Doutel Vaz – all bound by a shared, passion-fuelled talent.

The choreographic line-up is also sterling.

Read the review


Make a comment

Dissonant themes in debut triple bill

Review by Raewyn Whyte 13th Mar 2015

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s 16 terrific dancers are sleek and precise, fluent and fluid, technically proficient. Like dancers in most touring companies these days, they can do anything asked of them, and more.  Though they are an international bunch, American dance training is pretty much a common denominator.

The company were formed in 2003, and this Auckland Festival season marks their New Zealand debut, close on the heels of a season at the Adelaide Festival. It brings a triple bill of works commissioned from leading choreographers, Canadian Crystal Pite, who is artistic director of Kid Pivot and a former member of William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt; UK-based Israeli choreographer, composer and artistic director Hofesh Shechter, a former member of Ohad Naharin’s Batsheva Dance Company; and Norwegian choreographer and artistic director Jo Stomgren, who leads his own theatre company which specialises in performing in nonsensical languages.

Pite and Schechter share common themes in their works in this triple bill programme. They are darkly lit and set to threatening, percussive scores, and the events seem to be happening in some very near future time when human existence is under threat.

Pite’s Grace Engine has a sound score by Owen Belton which combines sampled sounds and granular synthesis, street noise and chaotic industrial sounds.  It includes the recurrent clatter of a train and snatches of echoing footsteps, b which combine with the dark suits worm by the dancers to suggest they are corporate employees. Cleverly varied lighting by Jim French provides a horror movie/nightmare atmosphere, rotating through sections which make use of overhead fluorescent strips, a row of spotlights which shine straight at the audience at dancer hip-level, isolated single lights and clumps of downlights which reveal a cluster of people off to the side, or silhouette a battalion of fleeing figures, interspersed with more brightly-lit freeze-frame moments of great clarity.

There’s an overwhelming sense of paranoia in the early sections, with individuals under tension twitching and whirling to face invisible foes, fighting with demons only they can see, engaging in dramatic face-offs, freezing into tensely tortuous poses. Once the full company engages, there is relatively constant movement punctuated by freeze framed action, detailed solos, extreme extensions which blur into martial fight moves, rows of faces shrieking silent screams, recurring battles between the genders, and an occasional breakout duet which seems sublimely serene.

The dancers wear colourful street clothes in Schechter’s Violet Kid, but despite the individuality this offers, once they start moving, they become a relatively faceless mass of bodies. Shechter puts his focus on “man’s struggle for harmony within a complex and sometimes horrifying universe,” a theme which he has explored a number of times now, notably for his own company in works such as Political Mother, which we saw here in New Zealand in 2012. 

Schechter’s score intermixes a string trio with recorded spoken words and percussive, driving industrial noise. His lighting design (co-credited to Jim French) is darkly apocalyptic, with swirling haze and shadowy corners, and occasional bursts of piercing light. By contrast to the relatively open, upright, extreme extensions seen in the world of Grace Engine, in Schecter’s world the dancers are down-trodden, demoralised, under the yoke of the oppressor, with the dancers bent over, crouching, huddling in groups, moving in clumps, shuffling, creeping, slithering across the floor, making occasional breaks for individual freedom before re-attaching to the nearest cluster of humanity, or all coming together into some brief unison moment.

The mood is relatively uniform, and there is little sense of drama despite the potential for violence to break out at any moment. Light and shade comes from broken rhythms, with folkdance steps – step hop, hop step, schottische, triplets – mixed in amongst the steps and shuffles, runs and lunges and falls and rolls that comprise the primary movement. Contrasts are included to offer occasional hope for some kind of freedom – a man spins exultantly, a formal procession wends across the space, whip-speed encounters happen below the radar of the oppressor, and arms sway lyrically as one person’s gesture is taken up by others.

Jo Stromgren’s Necessity, Again brings an abrupt change of mood seems a particularly odd choice for this programme. It’s an absurdist romp, overtly theatrical and farcical in mood, set to cheesy music sung by Charles Aznavour and styled very much like a B-grade musical. The only thing it has in common with the other works is the inclusion of interpolated recorded text – amongst bursts of poetry, all in French, is Jacques Derrida reading an extract of his own Deconstruction & Necessity.

The dancers assume overtly caricatured personas in much the same way as they wear their retro-60s party clothing, just for the purpose of the moment’s entertainment. Bundles of paper are carried, dropped to the floor, liberally spread about the stage, sorted into piles, tossed in the air, and pegged to washing lines which become party decorations at the back of the stage. Conga lines form and schmaltzy social dancing takes place. A woman dances on a table top and is manipulated by three men who move her and the table around the stage; one of the lines of pegged paper sheets becomes a jump rope, and the curtain falls with the cast skipping. 




Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council