Ashburton Trust Events Centre, Christchurch

18/03/2019 - 18/03/2019

Production Details

Following sell-out performances around New Zealand in 2018, the RNZB is delighted to be expanding Tutus on Tour to take in eleven regional centres in 2019. From Kerikeri and Whangarei to Oamaru and Gore, Tutus on Tour brings family-friendly performances to heartland New Zealand. These performances are tailor-made for intimate venues, and suitable for all ages.

The Programme:

Excerpts from Bournonville’s Napoli and Flower Festival at Genzano, in beautiful traditional costumes designed by Gary Harris. Part of the RNZB’s repertoire since the 1950s, these are true classics sure to delight young and old alike.

Flames of Paris pas de deux – a virtuoso show-stopper for dancers at the top of their game, a favourite in ballet galas worldwide.

Fairy Doll pas de trois – a beautiful doll comes to life in a magical toyshop, an enchanting miniature from 19th century Vienna.

Nae Regrets – 
RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker is excited to introduce this work by young US choreographer Brian Enos to New Zealand audiences in 2019. Nae Regrets blends Scottish folk music with techno rhythms to create a new soundscape.

Working in partnership with our Community and Education programme, Tutus on Tour also gives local schools in some centres the chance to get up close to the RNZB with Ballet in a Box: observing the dancers’ daily warm up, watching them perform brief works, and then exploring their world via a Q&A session. In the evening, the dancers will present performances from the company’s repertoire, in full costume.

Tutus on Tour is not part of the RNZB’s 2019 subscription season. Tickets on sale now.

Schools and teachers: to find out more about Ballet in a Box and other RNZB Education opportunities in your area, click here.

Tutus on Tour 2019 running time is approximately 90 minutes including a 15 minute interval.

Dance , ,

90 mins

Make believe and inconsequence?

Review by Dr Ian Lochhead 20th Mar 2019

Tutus on Tour is a long-established part of the company’s mission to bring ballet to smaller regional centres and their Ashburton performance is the first in as series that will occur in Oamaru, Nelson and Gore in the South Island as well as Wanganui, New Plymouth, Hamilton, Taupo, Kerikeri Whangarei and Gisborne in the North.  The same programme will be repeated in each venue.

The opening work provides a connection to the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s founder, Poul Gnatt, who was a product of the Royal Danish Ballet and an inheritor of the distinctive balletic tradition established by August Bournonville in Copenhagen during the middle decades of the nineteenth century.  The Napoli Pas de Dix and Flower Festival of Genzano pas de deux melded well-known items from two of Bournonville’s best-known works.  His choreography is characterised by precise, energetic footwork that avoids virtuosic steps in favour of a more unified approach.  It depends on buoyancy and crispness of execution and an impression of ease and elegance.  This was more apparent in the pas de dix than in the Napoli pas de deux, in which Katherine Precourt and Wan Bin Yuan missed the clear articulation of footwork on which the style depends.  It was only in the concluding Tarantella that the dancers seemed to gain greater confidence in the execution of what, for many, may have been an unfamiliar idiom.

Following the interval Sara Garbowski, Joaquin Angelucci and Luke Cooper performed the Fairy Doll pas de trois.  This is something of an historical curiosity and while mildly entertaining as the two male clowns compete for the attention of the dismissive doll, it is the kind of work that feeds a stereotypical image of ballet as stuck in the realm of make-believe and inconsequence.  Pavlova may have been able to convince her audience that this was a work of high art but for lesser mortals it is probably best left in the realms of dance history.

The Flames of Paris pas de deux is drawn from an early Soviet Ballet which drew comparisons between the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, but none of this is evident in the celebratory pas de deux which marks the wedding of the two principal protagonists.  It follows the format of the pas de deux that Marius Petipa created for ballets such as Don Quixote and Le Corsaire, although it adds to the mix the bravura athleticism that was one of the hallmarks of Soviet ballet.  Neither Kate Kadow nor Kihiro Kusukami were able to bring to the work the kind of careless swagger that Russian dancers in particular exhibit in this repertoire.  To programme a showpiece that does not show off the dancers performing it to their best advantage seems an odd choice since there is no shortage of possible works to draw on.

The final piece, Nae Regrets, originally choreographed by Brian Enos for Grand Rapids Ballet in 2013, is performed to a selection of music that ranges from traditional Scottish airs to the modern Celtic fusion of the Canadian-Scottish musician Martyn Bennett.  Massimo Margaria as the kilted traveller provides the linking thread through the work but it is difficult to discern any underlying theme.  There are moments of broad humour as whisky-sodden men are sent flying by the young woman who rejects their attentions, and plenty of vigorous steps that suggest broadly Celtic, if not specifically Scottish dance forms.  As an up-beat crowd pleaser, Nae Regrets was warmly received but anyone searching for more nourishing fare would have been left less satisfied.

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker is now well into the second year of her tenure and it is perhaps timely to make some assessment of the direction in which she appears to be taking our national ballet company.  Her predilection for recycling works from her former company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is one of the most concerning characteristics of her artistic programme.  While the Grand Rapids company meets the needs of a city of 200,000 inhabitants within a larger metropolitan environment of around one million, it does not seem an appropriate model for a national ballet company in a country with a population approaching five million.  Barker’s extraordinary statement, reported in The Listener (2 March 2019), that the recent Choreographic Series was an attempt to fill the void in a company that has, in her view, no “strong and richly defined repertoire” of its own, can hardly be left unchallenged.  If that programme had thrown up even a single company-defining work, such criticism may have seemed to have some validity but it is doubtful that any of the four works performed will have an extended life.

The statement seems even more extraordinary when set beside the company’s achievements of recent years.  Christopher Hampson’s Romeo and Juliet and Javier de Frutos’s Milagros both staged on the RNZB, were nominated for London Dance Awards when toured to the UK.  Hampson’s Cinderella, also created on the New Zealand company, was greatly admired by British critics when recently introduced to the repertoire of Scottish Ballet, the company Hampson now leads.  Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel’s Giselle has also been critically praised on international tours while Queensland Ballet has taken Greg Horsman’s production of The Sleeping Beauty into its repertoire.  Leaving aside major works by New Zealanders working internationally, among them Mark Baldwin, Andrew Simmons and Gray Veredon, in recent seasons the company has performed works by international choreographers of the first rank ranging from George Balanchine, Roland Petit and Kenneth Macmillan to William Forsythe, Alexander Ekman, Jiri Kilian, Benjamin Millepied and Liam Scarlett.  (Scarlett’s outstanding A Midsummer Night’s Dream was set on the RNZB in a production shared with Queensland Ballet.) These are artists whose works are being performed in the world’s leading centres for dance, from New York to London and Paris.  It seems that now we are expected to feel satisfied with a diet of works previously staged in Grand Rapids.  One can only conclude that Barker prefers to deal with works she already knows rather than exploring the already existing “strong and richly varied repertoire” of the company she has been appointed to lead.  The RNZB’s upcoming production, Black Swan, White Swan, is a further import from Michigan.  Neither its provenance nor the brief excerpt shown in the 2018 Tutus on Tour programme inspires confidence.    I can only hope to be proved wrong.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council