Short Stories

Raye Freedman Arts Centre, Gillies Avenue (Cnr Silver Road) Epsom, Auckland

09/09/2023 - 09/09/2023

Production Details

Jesssica Opacic and Meaghan Rowe developed the Short Stories theme for the 2023 season.
Sarah Knox and Bjorn Aslund created a piece each for the production, alongside Opacic and Rowe.
Kit Reilly and Nikita Tu Bryant, in collaboration with Bjorn Aslund,, created scores.

Presented by The Classical Collab

Short Stories is a quadruple bill comprising four newly commissioned contemporary ballet pieces, performed by The Classical Collab’s 2023 company dancers and choreographed by Sarah Knox, Bjorn Aslund, Jessica Opacic and Meaghan Rowe.

Come along and see some of Auckland’s finest young artists in our production, which explores four narratives from four unique choreographic perspectives. We will be premiering two new musical compositions in this performance by Kit Reilly and Nikita Tu Bryant, alongside works from renowned kiwi musician Rhian Sheehan, and classical greats by Vivaldi. A show not to be missed.

September 9 2023: 3pm + 7pm
Adults: $39 Concession: $32 Students: $25

Jesssica Opacic and Meaghan Rowe are the directors of The Classical Collab, and they developed the Short Stories theme for the 2023 season. After receiving several wonderful proposals, Sarah Knox and Bjorn Aslund were commissioned to create a piece each for the production, alongside Opacic and Rowe.
Kit Reilly has created a score for Rowe's piece 'Like Swans on a Lake', and Nikita Tu Bryant, in collaboration with Bjorn Aslund, created sections of Aslund's score for their piece 'Ivory Birds'.

Nicole Wang
Olivia Halliday
Belle Hartley
Taaniko Lyon-Elzen
Madeleine Hill-Young
Samantha Bunn
Tamsin Day
Yolanda Zhu
Isabel Neal
Esther Carr
Leon O'Brien
Loren Norton
Marcus Dillon
Bruce Bohao Feng
Amelia Chandulal-Mackay
Chloe Sheng
Jessica Yan
Lily Maria
Lara Feng
Athena House
Yejin Lee
Binnie Na
Kaitlyn-Daisy Barlow- Maiava
Lila Hartley
Leana Ferguson
Sian Dillon
Reuben Moffett

Bodhi Twilley

Set, Lighting and Costume Design:
Bjorn Aslund
Sarah Knox
Jessica Opacic
Meaghan Rowe

Stage Manager:
Erin Bowerman

Dance ,

82 minutes (including 20 minute intermission)

Performed passionately by the young dancers

Review by Eleanor Tubman 10th Sep 2023

A range of talented young dancers take the stage in Short Stories, in a quadruple bill of new contemporary ballet works. The Classical Collab is a youth performance company, and their latest production features the work of four choreographers, each exploring different stories, ranging from grand and narrative to very personal.

Björn Åslund’s Ivory Birds opens the quadruple bill with a thoughtful and dynamic exploration of the many journeys we embark on in life. Dancers constantly shift between striking group images, featured solos and duets, and fleeting pedestrian interactions alongside a singular red cube prop. As the lighting changes from a hazy dusk-orange to a stark blue side light, dancers move on and off the cube prop with ease and grace, and tension is built through rhythmic and spiralling movement, as individual dancers break from and then return to the group. Dancers deliver a sophisticated performance, exploring interesting themes that could still be developed further in future works.

Delving into ideas of identity, self-perception, and actualisation, Self-stories, choreographed by Sarah Knox in collaboration with the performers, looks inwards at the stories that make up who we are. The brightly coloured costumes, varied hairstyles, and the streaks of pink and yellow light, combined with a detailed and expressive movement vocabulary create a dreamy world of self-reflection, as if you are peeking into someone’s mind, or reading their journal. The piece takes time to zoom into individual dancers’ stories, while the cast of dancers remains connected through flowing partnering and focused and intentional observation. The ideas of the piece are explored optimistically, culminating in a cohesive and heart-warming closing to the first half. 

The youngest performers of the evening take the stage for Restraint Collapse, an interesting concept choreographed by Jessica Opacic. Clear collective gestures and a strong stage presence communicates a journey of tough and overwhelming emotion in a way that remains relevant and appropriate for the young performers. The work climaxes with the dancers cascading around the stage, creating dynamic patterns of arms and bodies. The young dancers demonstrated inspired storytelling and musicality, and some promising technical execution.

Like Swans on a Lake, the final work of the night, featured the entire cast of young dancers in a dramatic imagining of German folk story “Der geraubte Schleier” choreographed by Meaghan Rowe. The cinematic narrative unfolds, opening with shifting factions of dancers rippling and pulsing through each other in a playful and dynamic sea of movement. Simple, stunning movements create an engaging world to highlight the captivating duets and solos of the featured dancers. Costuming and lighting is used daringly and effectively, with a particularly striking moment in near complete darkness with dim light barely grazing the line of dancers as the featured soloist smears across the very front of the stage. Every dancer is well utilised to tell this beautiful story, and they keep up the performance and energy until the very end. 

Short Stories touches on a range of narratives, performed passionately by the young dancers, and enhanced by excellent use of music, costuming, and lighting. Congratulations to all the young performers who demonstrated their technical skills, performance abilities, and hard work. The Classical Collab has highlighted some of the incredible young talent in Auckland, and I look forward to what future performance seasons hold.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council