St James Theatre 2, Wellington

03/03/2012 - 06/03/2012

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Experience the magic of Japanese manga in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s entrancing follow-up to 2010 Festival smash hit Sutra.

From Bunkamura (Tokyo), Eastman (Antwerp) and distinguished London dance house Sadler’s Wells comes a major new dance work from this riveting Belgian- Moroccan choreographer. It is inspired by the creations of legendary Japanese manga artist Osamu Tezuka – the ‘Walt Disney of Anime’ and the inventor of Astro Boy.

Dance and animation combine in a production that is visually breathtaking. The dancers’ liquid movements create brushstrokes upon a vast canvas; inky blooms of colour and coiling calligraphy emerge on giant unfurling scrolls. Manga characters move within an animated scaffold of comic-strips, and a Shaolin monk enacts an enthralling kung fu battle – complete with cartoon ka-pows. 

Three musicians perform the hauntingly exotic soundscape by Nitin Sawhney, joined on stage by a calligrapher whose live drawing blends with animation by Tezuka and video artist Taiki Ueda.

TeZukA is a feast for the eyes that celebrates an artist at the very heart of contemporary Japanese culture.

Production Sadler’s Wells (London), Bunkamura (Tokyo), Eastman (Antwerp) Co-Production Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay Singapore, Parc de la Villette Paris, DeSingel Antwerp and Movimentos Festwochen der Autostadt Wolfsburg. In collaboration with Tezuka Productions.


Tix: $38 – $98
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

Dancers: Guro Nagelhus Schia, Damien Jalet, Daniel Proietto, Kazutomi Kozuki  (as Astro Boy)

2 hrs (including intermission)

Adjectives flow in high praise for TeZukA

Review by Jennifer Shennan 12th Mar 2012

This season of TeZukA is sponsored by Sauce, the digital media people, whose managing director uses the word “exhilarating”.

He has nailed it, and I’m grateful to quote him, since I have already used a string of other adjectives such as mysterious, accessible, educational, sexy-as, ravishing, heart-breaking and life- changing in emails to friends telling them to book a ticket immediately, and the result probably sounds inebriated.

There are splashes of humour, but tidal waves of empathy. The breathtaking graphics, sourced from Osamu Tezuka’s manga comics, and from calligraphy, are identified as “inspiration” for the work, and everything is enhanced by that acknowledgment.

Read the complete review


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A truly unique enriching experience - not to be missed

Review by Greer Robertson 04th Mar 2012

What do you know before you go?

You know that you will see a contemporary, thought provoking piece of theatre.

You know that the innovative dancing will be incredible.

You know that you will feel privileged to breathe the same air as such fabulous world class professionals.

You know you will be challenged.

You know that the overall theatrical experience will be second to none.

All these things and many more are confirmed as the events rush at you in the two hours of a life shared at the hands of the truly incredible visionary, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Young, vibrant, fresh, deep, extraordinary, a genius! Born in Belgium, he exploded onto the stage in his teens and instantly shot to meteoric fame before joining the world renowned Belgian Contemporary Collective “Les Ballets C de la B.”

Awards and accolades followed fast.

With the International Festival having already brought two of his earlier other productions (Foi and Sutra)  to Wellington, how privileged are we in New Zealand to experience a third  TeZukA !

Compelled to enlighten us on the life, brilliance and struggles of Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka, this is a big project, big budget, big production. Often referred to as the ‘Walt Disney of Japan’ and known for creating original and unique comics such as Astro Boy, Tezuka  originated managa and anime, and is much praised for the rich and complex world he created and his ability to show human qualities in a two dimensional character.

Cherkaoui, coactively absorbed by Tezuka’s life, takes us on a journey through many styles of delivery.  At times it is documented by way of the spoken word in French, Flemish, Japanese and English. At times, by way of powerful imagery. At times, with sympathetic yet subtly comedic characters and choreography. At times, by expansive technically creative expert staging.  While all the time superlatively thread together with live onstage Japanese music and consummately  passionate musicians and dancers.

Made up of only 12 dancers and 3 musicians, the overall impact is more like that of a full orchestra and entire corps de ballet. The faultless 15 performers humbly and superbly give their all.

My only whispering negative thought is that at times there is too much information being thrust with too many translated words scooting quickly on the surtitle screen.

Mind you, Tezuka had a unique tempestuous, tumultuous life and surely to leave something out would be just too tardy?

To select moments of brilliance with copious overused superlatives for either the dancing, music or staging, to me is demeaning of the overall enormity of this rare and powerful presentation.

A truly unique, enriching experience, and one definitely not to be missed!


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