Aotea Centre at THE EDGE®, Auckland

14/02/2008 - 17/02/2008

Production Details

The TOWER Season of RED 

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is delighted to bring you the TOWER Season of RED. This exciting programme comprises three works from outstanding choreographic voices. From a 19th Century classic to exciting contemporary works, RED promises to ignite your passion for dance.


One of the great works by the legendary Russian choreographer, Marius Petipa. Originally from the full three-act ballet, Paquita is now mostly performed as a classical showpiece, featuring the full company, beautiful duets and solos. Its structure is of the traditional Russian school. Set to Ludwig Minkus’ luscious score, this work is grand in scale. New designs by Artistic Director Gary Harris will feature startling red tutus inspired by Italian fashion designer Valentino.


First performed by the RNZB in 2004 as part of the hugely successful Saltarello season, New Zealand-born choreographer Adrian Burnett has created a mystical and thought-provoking work. Set to John Psathas’ evocative score of the same name, this abstract work is inspired by the ritualistic and sacrificial cleansing of the chosen one. Tracy Grant Lord’s stunning designs are reminiscent of a giant golden chalice.

Plan to A

Jorma Elo is one of the ‘hot’ choreographers working today. His energetic and inspiring work is based on his experience of working with some of the world’s most respected and ground-breaking choreographers, including William Forsythe, Jiøí Kylián and Matz Ek. Plan to A is an abstract work for seven dancers and presents audiences with sizzlingly energetic choreography. Dressed in stunning red, the dancers move seamlessly across the stage in a highly stylised, mesmerising flow of movement.

The TOWER Season of RED

Auckland 14 – 17 February    
Aotea Centre at THE EDGE®

Hastings 20 – 21 February
Hawke’s Bay Opera House

New Plymouth 24 February
TSB Theatre

Palmerston North 28 – 29 February
Regent Theatre on Broadway

Invercargill 4 March
Civic Theatre

Dunedin 7 – 8 March
Regent Theatre

Christchurch 12 -15 March
Isaac Theatre Royal

Wellington 19 -20 March
St James Theatre    

Choreography: Marius Petipa
Composer: Ludwig Minkus
Design: Gary Harris
Lighting Design: Jordan Tuinman

Choreography: Adrian Burnett
Composer: John Psathas
Design: Tracy Grant Lord
Original Lighting: John Rayment
Lighting Redesign: Jordan Tuinman

Choreography: Jorma Elo
Composer: Heinrich von Biber
Design: Joke Visser
Lighting Design: Jordan Tuinman
Restaging: Nancy Euverink

Far outshines previous work

Review by 15th Feb 2008

The whole day had seen glimpses of red – red roses, red clothes, red cars… long story… and that tiny reflection about whether Valentine’s Day is simply a marketing gambit or an easy opportunity to redress some of the emotional slippage of enduring relationships.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet Company’s TOWER season of Red brought forth some similar musings. I love it that the company is bringing forth inventive work. I love it that the dancers get to dance difficult movement in sophisticated choreography to diverse music. I love it that the dancers are a more hybrid group.

Design and lighting, albeit almost spartan, is now always stylish. Living in New Zealand is not always easy; sometimes it feels like I walk along the inside of a wall to get to a corner, to continue the walk – along the inside of another wall… a night at the ballet was traditionally designed to transport us from day to day conducts. This ballet did, and for a number of reasons opened the door again to a different vista. And that’s probably the emotional slippage bit sorted…

Three distinct choreographies ran a gamut of classical danced possibilities. Opening with Paquita, choreographed by Marius Petipa (dance composer, Ludwig Minkus) as a debut work at St Petersburg Imperial Theatre in 1847, this work had delicious Spanish-isms both musically and gesturally. Petipa’s last port of call had been in Spain. He escaped from a duel engendered by an illicit liaison with a marquess.

As social commentary it is almost dry, but somehow the dancers moved beyond the choreography and the historical story was still there embedded in their expressivity and lines. In terms of structure it is obvious that Paquita had been choreographed to showcase pets and baby stars of the Imperial Ballet.

Pets and baby stars of this company for this dance included some very nice detailed work by Jacob Chown, Adrianna Harper and Catherine Eddy with the precision of Yu Takayama one again to the fore. A dancer to watch is Tonia Looker. Although a dance personality slightly at odds with the more experienced dancers, her exuberance and dynamic line is noticeable amongst the ranks.

The second work, Abhisheka, choreographed by Adrian Burnett, was aesthetically far removed from the previous work, and came almost as a shock. I had just seen a preview of another dance work prior to my arrival at The Edge and had been at imagination play installing some of those bodily shapes and contemporary dance movements onto the floor of Paquita’s dance.

The opening glimpse of a familiar contemporary image of falling sparkly light/ dust on a single dancer body heaved me back into the more obvious intention of last night’s programme. New Zealand ballet is of age.

Although the dance has a tentative choreographic start, the clear elegance and artistry of the work became easily exhibited by the dancers moving bodies. In the next sections, the prolonged use of duets exposed the strength and grace of the company as well as their style. Although the female costumes in this work seemed somewhat at odds with the bare and leggy nature of the movement, other design details of music (John Psathats), lighting (John Rayment) and set (Tracey Grant), captured a refined, intelligent purpose.

The third dance of the evening kind of wraps up the marketing gambit comment. Although Plan to A, choreographed by Jorma Elo, is described in the programme as abstract, I would describe it as kinaesthetically vibrant and quite specific. There were many clear images in the dancers’ bodies and in their movements; gymnastic, circus, relational.

This is not so much abstraction as intention for us as audience to piece together a response. In the exploration of rapid arm movement, which seems to have taken hold of much of contemporary dance vocabularies, these dancers seem to strike an offer. Like us or beat it.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet Company’s TOWER season of Red brought forth some excellent moments of theatre. This programme far outshines previous work and delivers to its market, audiences of New Zealand and beyond a very interesting product.

Still capturing the traditionally bound social parameters of ballet, Red at the same time offers us glimpses of a singular global culture, which the art form has always held.


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