It isn’t often that I come out of a dance performance full of joy and with vivid images in my head that will stay with me a long time, but Saturday’s performance by the Royal New Zealand Ballet of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was one such occasion.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a discussion forum about the production which proved a useful backdrop to the evening. The piece is a co-production with Queensland Ballet and will be staged in Brisbane in 2016. Choreography was by Liam Scarlet, the young choreographer who is Artist in Residence with the Royal Ballet in London. The designs were by Tracy Grant Lord, who has a long list of stage credits. Music was arranged from various pieces by Mendelssohn, including his incidental music for the play. The sets and costumes were fantastic, and no pictures can really do them justice. The dark blues and purples of the fairies, Titania in white, the rude mechanicals dressed in beige, and the four human characters (the king and queen of Athens were dispensed with, along with the interminable ‘Pyrimus and Thisbe’ play within a play) dressed as if butterfly hunting, formed a wonderful blend of softness and light. The lighting was used to great effect, playing on the fact that the events of the night take place in a forest. A bridge in the air was only used by the fairies, to watch events below, and Puck made use of a fireman’s pole to enter the action below.
The night we went, Titania was danced by Tonia Looker, who was light and ethereal, and a wonderful partner to Oberon, danced by MacLean Hopper. Bottom was danced with humour by Harry Skinner (I loved the way he looked confused by his hooves, and then again when he returned to himself).
The fairies all had great character, each one different, and the four lovers, were perfectly matched in style and height. Probably the dancer that shone on the night was Shaun James Kelly as Puck. He jumped and leapt and had the cheekiness the part demands. Nothing to do with his dancing, but Kelly comes from Scotland, and also lived in Copenhagen before coming to Wellington (see the connection?), and I met him very briefly once at the Pilates studio!
It was a fantastic evening, and I’m sure audiences who saw it all over New Zealand were also enchanted.
Choreography: Liam Scarlett
Design: Tracy Grant Lord
Music: Mendelssohn arranged for the ballet by Nigel Gaynor
Costume sketches in the programme
UK readers! At the end of October, the company begins a 5 week tour of the UK and Italy. Watch out for them if they are in your area.
Photos courtesy of Stephen A’Court Photographer http://photoboy.photoshelter.com/#!/index Thanks a million for brilliant pictures! The Vodafone Season of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. COPYRIGHT ©Stephen A’Court