New Zealand Dance News – August/September 2023

NZDC in Eddie Elliott’s 'Uku - Behind the Canvas'. Photo by John McDermott.
NZDC in Eddie Elliott’s 'Uku - Behind the Canvas'. Photo by John McDermott.

Find out what’s happening in New Zealand dance news!

The last quarter of the year sees preparations moving ahead for the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) Performance Season at Southwards Car Museum (November 16 to 18) and Te Whaea Theatre (November 28 to December 2), demonstrating the talents of the School’s exceptional students. Presenting two alternating programmes of ballet and contemporary dance, these annual performances are an opportunity to watch the rising stars of the dance world. In these specially curated programmes, students from across the School’s three year groups will showcase their artistry, skill and versatility on stage, performing extracts from existing pieces alongside newly commissioned contemporary works.

NZSD classical ballet students Joshua Linkhorn and Patrick Nawalowalo McCroy. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD classical ballet students Joshua Linkhorn and Patrick Nawalowalo McCrory. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

The ballet programme will include Val Caniparoli’s Double Stop and Street Songs, Helgi Tomasson’s Meistens Mozart and Lew Christensen’s Vivaldi Concerto Grosso. The contemporary dance programme includes extracts from The Beginning of Nature, choreographed by former Australian Dance Theatre Artistic Director Garry Stewart, as well as a revival of Amber Haines’ 2016 work, Incant. For more information, visit nzschoolofdance.ac.nz.

The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) is thrilled to announce the upcoming tour of Night Light, an exhilarating double bill set to light up Rotorua, Hamilton and New Plymouth this winter. Exploring an ancient sequence of nature in The Fibonacci and the blurred lines between fiction and reality in Uku – Behind the Canvas, Night Light premiered in Tāmaki Makaurau in 2022, to both critical and audience acclaim. Following its sellout premiere season in 2022, this year’s three city dates mark NZDC’s first mainstage national tour since the COVID-19 pandemic and includes the Company’s debut in Rotorua on August 12, as well as a return to Kirikiriroa Hamilton on August 17, and Ngā Motu New Plymouth on August 24. The Fibonacci by Tor Colombus opens up a dreamy terracotta world that explores the mathematical Fibonacci sequence. With a movement vocabulary that drifts effortlessly between the natural and the mechanical, The Fibonacci reveals a tapestry of pattern and form, which provokes a feeling of connection to something deeper than the detail of each individual action.

NZDC in Eddie Elliott’s 'Uku - Behind the Canvas'. Photo by John McDermott.
NZDC in Eddie Elliott’s ‘Uku – Behind the Canvas’. Photo by John McDermott.

Tangata Māori choreographer Eddie Elliott’s Uku – Behind the Canvas explores the power of vulnerability and the strength within struggle. Anticipation and intensity are at the heart of movement paired with cleansing uku (clay) which symbolises the relationship between Hineahuone and Tāne – where we’ve come from and to where we will return. From floating through time and space, observing nature’s mysterious golden spirals in Colombus’ The Fibonacci to grounding down with feeling in Elliott’s Uku – Behind the Canvas where confronting storytelling is at its most raw, these two sublime performances make for an evening of earthy contrast that will leave you in awe of the talent and artistry brewing right here on our shores. Don’t miss this double bill pairing featuring works by two of Aotearoa’s most exciting choreographers on tour this August. For tickets and more information, head to nzdc.org.nz/stage/works/night-light.

The 33rd iteration of the world-renowned World of WearableArt™ (WOW) Show is set to be one of the biggest, boldest, and brightest yet, with 120 designers from 23 countries. The futuristic 2023 World of WearableArt™ Show: BEYOND features the return of the beloved WOW category, Bizarre Bra, unleashes a huge cast of spectacular performers, and sees the TSB Arena dripping in Gold in this year’s feature section of the same name. The global wearable art competition provides a unique opportunity for its finalist designers, many of whom prepare for years to be included in the line-up. The breathtaking stage show, which unites art, dance, aerial performance, music, and mind-blowing stage design and effects, delivers an experience like no other for audiences. More than $185,000 of awards and prizes are up for grabs in 2023, across three recurring sections, Aotearoa, Avant-garde and Open, and three additional sections, Mars and Beyond, Gold, andthe iconic Bizarre Bra.

2012 World of WearableArt™ Show.
2012 World of WearableArt™ Show.

“Once again we find ourselves in awe at the level of creative ingenuity, craftmanship and pure inventiveness that designers bring to the WOW Competition,” says WOW Head of Competition Sarah Nathan. “In the 2023 WOW Show: BEYOND, audiences will see a mind-bending array of materials ranging from potato bags, shoe rubber, bees wax, latex and bamboo, to drone waste, Barbie dolls, children’s sweets, keyboards and synthetic hair! This year’s finalists also provide moments of reflection and conversation as they present back to us some of the most pressing global issues of our time. Fast fashion waste, mental health, women’s empowerment, climate change and online bullying are all conveyed through the most extraordinary creations of wearable art.”

The finalists will go through two further stages of judging, in which they are assessed on stage, before the winners are announced at the 2023 WOW Show Awards Night on Friday 22 September at TSB Arena. WOW 2023 takes up residence in the TSB Arena in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington, from 20 September to 8 October 2023. Tickets are now on sale now at www.worldofwearableart.com.

RNZB Dancer Kirby Selchow and Soloist Shaun James Kelly in 'Hansel & Gretel'. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
RNZB Dancer Kirby Selchow and Soloist Shaun James Kelly in ‘Hansel & Gretel’. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

Following a triumphant world premiere in 2019, the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) acclaimed Hansel & Gretel returns in time for Christmas 2023. Choreographer Loughlan Prior, with composer Claire Cowan and designer Kate Hawley, created a magical world with delectable characters in their charming interpretation of the classic fairy tale. RNZB Acting Artistic Director David McAllister says, “It is such a thrill to finish the year with this most delightful and cautionary tale told with such wit and glamour. Every element – dance, music and design – come together in a show that dazzles from beginning to end. It is a sumptuous way for the Royal New Zealand Ballet to close our 70th anniversary year; showcasing the array of talent across every bit of this production. A feast for every sense to enjoy as we prepare for the festive season.”

Of the work and its evolution, Prior says, “The chance to bring Hansel & Gretel back to the stage this year is an immense treat. Revisiting this character driven production provides so many wonderful roles for the artists of the RNZB to sink their teeth into, and I’m really looking forward to working with a new generation of dancers to bring this delicious production to life!”

With the original production, composer Claire Cowan became the first woman to compose a full-length score for RNZB. One review described her music as a “star of the night” and “a triumph”. The design, by set and costume designer Kate Hawley whose film work includes Crimson Peak, Edge of Tomorrow and Mortal Engines, is the ultimate in eye-candy. Hansel & Gretel will travel to Wellington, Napier, Palmerston North, Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland and Takapuna from 26 October to 19 December. For tickets and further information, head to rnzb.org.nz/shows/hansel-gretel.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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