New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season 08

Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, 11 Hutchison Rd, Newtown, Wellington

19/11/2008 - 29/11/2008

Production Details

The NZSD Graduation Season is a celebration of our freshest dance talent: a magical evening of stunning ballet and contemporary dance performed by graduating students of the New Zealand School of Dance.

From the soft classical grace of Bournonville’s Flower Festival in Genzano to the architectural beauty of Raymonda, these performances will take the audience on a tour around the world and through the history of dance. The Graduation Season will also feature two world premieres by well-known contemporary choreographers Ross McCormack and Sarah Foster and, back by popular demand, the highly theatrical and explosive choreography of Natalie Weir’s Jabula.

Don’t miss seeing the next generation of dancers as they launch into the professional arena!

Te Whaea Theatre
11 Hutchison Road

7.30pm, 19 – 29 November
2.00pm, Sunday 23 November (no evening performance on Sunday)
Please note there is no performance Monday 24 November.

Tickets are $20 (adult), $15 (students/seniors) and $10 (children 12 and under)
Bookings: 04 381 9254.


Feast for dance fans

Review by Jennifer Shennan 28th Nov 2008

Raymonda, pas de dix,  after Petipa, evokes the pomp and grandeur of its old-school Russian heritage. Its demanding technique is valiantly performed by all ten dancers, amongst whom Haruka Tsuji and Loughlan Prior seem truly elegant and at ease. The Glazunov score, usually a grand and supportive romp, has a somewhat muddy recording which tests the dancers’ musicality. 

Symbiotic, newly choreographed by Ross McCormack, is unusual and enigmatic. There are certainly some striking images, and the dancers are fully committed, but work from three different composers ( or musicians? programme notes are unclear) mean there is not a through-composed music to help shape the choreographic structure.

Jiri Kylian’s choreography, Un Ballo,  to Ravel, staged by Arlette van Boven, is timeless in style, and in the freshness of performance it invokes from the dancers. Two words – "Quite Fabulous", though, believe me, I could write 2000 words. Each of the Kylian masterpieces being brought annually into the School’s repertoire will, like the heritage of Limon works in a previous era, improve the lives of those who dance them, and those who see them.

Bournonville’s The Flower Festival in Genzano, staged by Frank Andersen, until recently artistic director of Royal Danish Ballet, brings joy and vitality to centre-stage. Haruka Tsuji and Andre Santos do a sterling job, conveying a delightful sense of fun, which is no small achievement in this demanding style of dancing that makes such interesting contrast with the opening Russian work. Two words – "Completely Delicious", though, believe me, I could write a book.

We Can Fight, a new work by Sarah Foster, has loads of comic punch and edge, and Dan Caddy does a spirited delivery of the lead role.  There is much substance to this theme, but a pity that the dancers’ voices are so hugely overworked in shouting, which throws the balance of the dance off centre.

The pas de deux from Concerto, by Kenneth MacMillan, is staged by Gary Trinder  to Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto no.2, played live (much appreciated). It is very competently and beautifully danced by Katherine Grange and Michael Lee, who both show a purity of line, and share secure rapport.

In Natalie Weir’s spirited work, Jabula, the dancers give and receive much uplift. It proves a celebratory closing to a strong performance, though the printed programme could share more of the context of these important works, and become a resourceful item for the students’  future reference as they embark on their careers.  One wishes good long dancing lives to them all.


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Showcasing new talent

Review by Jan Bolwell 23rd Nov 2008

One of the many pleasures of attending the New Zealand School of Dance graduation season is the unique opportunity it provides to see choreography of such high calibre. Garry Trinder and his staff are to be applauded for the consistently wonderful works they stage with the students.

In the contemporary field they bring us, year after year, the dances of one of the truly great choreographers of the world – Jiri Kylian. What a privilege and what an opportunity for the students to be able to dance his works. This time it was Un Ballo, a work Kylian created in 1991 for his junior company, Netherlands Dance Company 11. Performed to the sinuous strains of Ravels’ Minuet from le Tombeau de Couperin and Pavane pour une infante defunte, it is an ideal vehicle for a student cast.

Mercifully there is not a dead ‘infante’ in sight. Instead we have the glorious spectacle of multiple duets, as male and female couples emerge from upstage darkness to weave a series of intricately laced motifs that flow seamlessly from one to the next. The joy of Kylian’s choreography is that while it is endlessly inventive and complex, it never looks contrived. Arlette van Boven has done a fine job staging Un Ballo – without doubt the highlight of the evening.

Petipa is always a challenge for the students and this year proved no exception. The Pas de Dix from Raymonda, stylishly staged by Janek Schergen, has the dancers at full stretch, especially the men who have yet to fully grasp the technical requirements and the difficult phrasing of the Glazunov score. The principals Katherine Grange, an engaging almost coquettish dancer, and Kyle Wood who is strong and assured, anchor the work beautifully.

It is farsighted of the School to bring back past students to mount new works. This year Ross McCormack, a recent graduate who is forging a successful international career, returned to create Symbiotic. It is an awful title and the programme notes are pretty meaningless, but the dancing is interesting and performed with great commitment by Jessica Jeffries, Nicola Leahey, Robbie Curtis and Florian Teatiu.

The dance begins in darkness with just the sound of a body contacting the floor. I feel the entire dance would have been more interesting performed with breath rhythm and body percussion, as the music chosen seems to bear little relationship to the choreographic intention. The continual use of rapid movement into stillness badly needs breaking up into a more varied dynamic. Loved the use of the girls’ hair though, being pulled and stretched as though it had a life of its own.

It was fascinating to have a taste of Bournonville with the pas de deux from The Flower Festival in Genzano, especially in contrast to the Petipa repertoire. However we seem only to ever get a slim taste of Bournonville, and to truly appreciate the style, it would be wonderful if the School could undertake a larger staging. Haruko Tsuji and Andre Santos make an engaging couple and give a strong rendition of the style.

Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto (Pas de Deux) danced to Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No 2. in F major Op. 102 – how marvelous to hear it played live by Craig Newsome and Philip O’Malley – is a strangely anachronistic work. The ballerina is hauled constantly around the stage by her partner in a manner reminiscent of the days when the male dancer was simply a supportive prop. It allows for some clean, clear posing by the ballerina, in this case Katherine Grange, but really has little else to titillate the taste buds. I kept wondering how Balanchine would have choreographed the duet.

We Can Fight by another recent graduate, Sarah Foster, is a strong work and great fun. It is also reminiscent of some of the early works of Limbs Dance Company when they took a poke at aspects of our culture. The good old Kiwi bloke is played admirably by Dan Caddy who is both vocally and physically adept. The ensemble work is imaginative as the dancers skitter across the stage like flocks of sheep with the ever vigilant sheep dog nearby putting up with the barked orders of Caddy. How refreshing to see some wit and humour – an ingredient missing from much New Zealand contemporary dance.

The programme ends with Jabula an African inspired work first performed by the New Zealand School of Dance in 2002. While the choreography is hackneyed, it does provide a vehicle for the students to display their very considerable athletic prowess.


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