Strength and Grace Triple Bill (2019)

Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

04/04/2019 - 04/04/2019

Southern Lakes Festival of Colour

Production Details

Watch dancers from your national ballet company in a superb programme of contemporary works, including two that were commissioned to celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Penny Saunders’ So To Speak celebrates the conversations wives and daughters dared to have behind the scenes of the public suffrage campaigns, illuminating the struggles that took place within the home. Andrea Schermoly’s Stand to Reason was inspired by the 1888 pamphlet ‘Ten Reasons Why The Women of New Zealand Should Vote’, and pays tribute to the strong women who stood up for their right to political participation.

The third work in the programme is the New Zealand premiere of  Gleam, a lyrical work by Robyn Mineko Williams that explores the interactions between three couples in a series of fine duets.

Music credits

So to Speak

Sonata No 1 pour violon, viole obligée et basse-continue in D Minor – Grave   Composer Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre  From the album Sonates pour violon, viole oblige et basse-continue  Performers Ensemble La Rêveuse, Bertrand Cuiller (harpsichord / organ),  Florence Bolton (viol), Stéphan Dudermel (violin)  Label ℗ & © Mirare – MIR 105

Aether, Ascent, Opaque  Composer / Performer Hildur Guðnadóttir  From the album Without Sinking  Label Touch UK

Quintette No 1  Composer Dustin O’Halloran  From the album Lumiere  Performers ACME Ensemble of New York, Dustin O’Halloran (keyboards), Ben Russell, Yuki Numata (violins), Nadia Sirota (viola)  Label Splinter Records © FatCat Records

Forgiveness (interpreted by Sarah Nemtanu)  Composer Armand Amar From the soundtrack album Human © & ℗ 2015 Long Distance Productions under exclusive licence to Parlophone Records Ltd, a Warner Music Group Company


Nocturne in G Minor Composed by Fréféric Chopin Performed by Alice Sara Ott and Ólafur Arnalds From the Album The Chopin Project

Yumeji’s Theme  Composed by Umebayashi Shigeru  From the Album In the Mood for Love (Original soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

‘Mi Par D’udir Ancora’  Composed by Georges Bizet  Performed by Enrico Caruso  From the Album Enrico Caruso – A Historical Recording

Angkor Wat Theme Finale  Composed by Michael Galasso  From the Album In the Mood for Love (Original soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

Stand to Reason

Violin Sonata No 3 in D minor – Grave  Composer Johann Paul von Westhoff  From the album Sonatas pour Violin et Basse Continue  Performers David Plantier (violin), Andrea Marchiol (harpsichord)  Label © Zig Zag Territoires, distributed in New Zealand by Ode Records

Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor ‘Quasi una fantasia’ Op. 27 No. 2 ‘Moonlight’  Composer Ludwig van Beethoven
From the album The 55 Best Relaxing Piano Songs  Performer London Piano Consort  Label © Foodcourt Records – X5 Music Group

Le Badinage 4eme livre de pieces de viole  Composer Marin Marais  From the album Tous les matins du monde
Performers Jordi Savall, Rolf Lislevand, Marin Marais  Label: ALIA VOX  By kind permission of Alia Vox


The Royal New Zealand Ballet and the Wanaka Festival of Colour have made every effort to trace original copyright holders for music featured in Strength & Grace. Credits are given as supplied by the copyright holder and/or as they appear on the recording in question.

Dance , ,

70 minutes

Feminine empowerment

Review by Jorden Lahood 05th Apr 2019

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s presentation of Strength & Grace is a three-part ballet centered on the history of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. We are graced with an all female choreographer event making the point of feminine empowerment strong and present

So To Speak by Penny Saunders opens the night with conversational movement between the female and male casts. With a mixture of strength and delicacy, you can feel a power struggle occurring between the men and women of the family; the flow between the mother, daughter and father indicate the struggle of voicing opinions that have been suppressed in history. The trio is finished off with a gutsy power stance by Kirby Selchow (mother) over Loughlan Prior (father); it is time to be heard, accepted and respected as a woman. The costuming takes you back to an earlier age of the 1800’s, and the musical score leads the ensemble through emotional ups and downs of feminine and masculine dynamics.

Gleam by Robyn Mineko Williams is a series of duets that takes you into the depths of female and male connection. It is unclear as to what relationships are being explored; however, the first pas de deux between Caroline Wiley and Paul Mathews is filled with such precision, stability and presence, you feel the trust that can be shared between men and women, and this flows over into the next two duos.

Finally, Stand To Reason by Andrea Schermoly is presented by an all female ensemble costumed precisely in all black. It is staged darkly lit with a creative typewriter backdrop of facts, drawing into focus women’s challenges with authority, equality and worth throughout history. The importance of the rise of female strength is in our time is wonderfully presented by Kirby Selchow’s emotionally rich and striking solo.

Strength & Grace is an admirable testament to the past and present courage of women. The RNZB have a strong company of technicians this season and there is an impressive balance between modern contemporary and traditional ballet throughout the program. What a pleasure to see New Zealand artists taking a stance on important worldwide issues.


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