If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea, we would be sitting outside on Sunday morning, listening to the cicadas and talking to our visiting cat, Charlie.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea, I would tell you about last night’s evening of dance. The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s triple bill, Speed of Light, was that rare thing – a perfectly put together triple bill. Francesco Ventriglia’s first programme since becoming artistic director was a triumph. The evening was full of energy, strong dancing and I would urge you to try to get a ticket for today at 4pm (or go to Auckland, Christchurch or Dunedin in March).
I would tell you that the first piece, Andonis Foniadakis’ Selon Désir, is danced to parts of the opening choruses of the St Matthew and St John Passions and music composed by Julien Tarride. The dancers moved with energy and grace, long hair tossed about obscuring the dancers’ faces at times, but also adding to the movement. I would show you a clip of it in rehearsal, and describe the costumes – skirts for all the dancers, which swirled and moved and added to the dynamism of the piece.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea, I would tell you that I was not disappointed with the second piece of the evening. Originally created for the Paris Opera Ballet, with Sylvie Guillem in the first cast, William Forsythe’s In the Middle: Somewhat Elevated is almost thirty years old. I had been so looking forward to seeing it on stage rather than on film, that there was always that risk that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. But it did, with some brilliant dancing, especially by Abigail Boyle.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea, I would also tell you about the last piece of the evening, Alexander Ekman’s Cacti. It was created for Nederlands Dans Theatre 2, and I could just imagine it being danced by them (having seen them several times in Scotland). It was so European (I can’t explain this….I just felt I was back watching dance in Europe again), so full of humour and an excellent closing piece. Cacti makes fun of dance critics and is, as the programme notes state ‘a gleeful and knowing parody of the art form’s greater excesses’. The sixteen dancers move large tiles around, banging on them, dancing on them and of course bring on large cacti which are carried around with great pomp and ceremony. At one point, the audience heard the thoughts of two dancers as they performed a duet, each deconstructing the piece and being critical of each other. I especially laughed when one dancer shouted to another ‘Why are you speaking in a Scottish accent?’ to which Shaun James Kelly, who happens to hail from Glasgow, replied ‘I come from Scotland!’. The music was played live on stage by The New Zealand String Quartet, who walked about and become part of the action on stage. I loved this piece, with new shapes and patterns formed as the dancers moved the blocks as well as their bodies. Oh and a black cat falls from the sky too (don’t worry Charlie, it was a toy one). I would also show you this clip of the company in rehearsal.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea, I would ask you if you had bought any tickets for anything on the New Zealand Festival, which started on Friday. The French Film Festival is also on at the moment, and I would tell you that we are off to see something on that this evening.
If we were having coffee…or even a cup of tea I would ask you to stay to lunch, but as you have managed to get a last minute ticket for Speed of Light, you decline, and head into town.
* Selon Désir picture credit http://www.mch.govt.nz/royal-new-zealand-ballet-takes-italy-storm
In the Middle Somewhat Elevated picture credit http://lucire.com/insider/20160226/the-royal-new-zealand-ballets-speed-of-light-sophisticated-modern-classics-lead-new-zealand-festival/