Tutus & Tame

by Francesca Horsley / 29 December, 2007
Let's hear it for inky tarns.


Old-style romance was alive and well - in ballet anyway. This year the Royal New Zealand Ballet's emphasis on classical ballet paid off handsomely. And the company's policy of engaging both overseas and local dancers and creative teams ensured an international profile without compromising Kiwi integrity.

Best Production Magical was the word for the RNZB's new production of Cinderella. Choreographed by Christopher Hampson, designed by Tracy Grant Lord, with lighting by Nick Schlieper, its all-round excellence wowed audiences here and on a recent Chinese tour.

Runner-up The RNZB's Swan Lake celebrated two New Zealanders' extraordinary gifts. Veteran choreographer Russell Kerr closed his career with an erudite adaptation of the original choreography; Kristian Fredrikson's set and costume design confirmed the benchmark for splendour. Expat guest artists added excitement to the roles of the Swan Queen and Prince.

Best Female Dancer Technically accomplished Yu Takayama was a sexy partner in Concerto Pas de Deux, Tutus on Tour. As Cinderella she embodied endearing vulnerability and quiet determination.

Runner-up Katie Hurst-Saxton is an elegant, sensitive dancer. In Tutus her solo in Raymonda Variations was precise and dramatic; her Cinderella charming, utterly believable.

Best Male Dancer Qi Huan's Prince in Cinderella accomplished harrowing feats - multiple turns without a waver; swooping high leaps. A romantic, assured partner, he impressed in Concerto Pas de Deux.

Runner-up Michael Braun was a needle-sharp court jester in Swan Lake, a responsive yet commanding Prince in Cinderella.


2007 has seen a strong focus on socio-political themes, with hard-hitting works. The sophisticated redefining of performance space and skilled integration of multi-media were evident in a number of exciting productions.

Best Contemporary Choreographer Tempest by Lemi Ponifasio's MAU Dance Company brought Shakespeare's themes of statelessness and colonisation into the present. A political, insightful work, it featured Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui, dancers from ecologically fragile Kiribati and activist Tame Iti.

Runner-up Daniel Belton's beautiful Stitchbirds shifted dancers in and out of frames of light in subtly flowing movement, at times as if caught in freeze-frame.

Best Production Aoraki, by Louise Potiki Bryant: an extraordinary solo work integrated film, live dance, video and sound to create a mountain world where light, rain, inky tarns and swooping keas appeared transmuted from the Southern Alps into the dance space.

Best New Work by Emerging Choreographer Moss Patterson's Whakairo (Atamira Dance Collective) was devastating dance theatre: an unflinching story of family disintegration and child abuse.

Runner-up The Leaning Tower of Penchant (Back Lit Productions) was sophisticated and ever-so-slightly disturbing for those with a hankering for shoes, mirrors and tea.

Best Female Dancer Julia Milsom's intelligent artistry was consummate in all performances, particularly in Locked where she revealed unsparing strength and balance. Also remarkable this year were Louise Potiki Bryant, Liana Yew and Dolina Wehipeihana.

Best Male Dancer Paul Young is an outstanding theatrical and movement artist. In Dark Tourists, he was an edgy, pivotal figure; his partnering in Bones and Locked was fluid, strong and receptive. Maaka Pepene, Jeremy Poi, Jack Gray, Peter Takapuna and Sean MacDonald also gave outstanding performances.


Shona McCullagh's Break re-creates the splintered reality of a mother leaving her family. Daniel Belton's After Dürer explores Dürer, German Renaissance painter and mathematician. Time-travelling, Belton, as both alchemist and object, creates dance housed within a magic digital architecture.


Sadly, our physical isolation and box-office pressures dictated that only international companies' safe programmes reached our shores; cutting-edge works remained out-of-bounds.

Best Production French dance company Ballet Preljocaj's whimsical and light-hearted Les Saisons 4 offered European nuance and sexy interplay between women and men.

Runner-up Complexions Contemporary Ballet pushed unrelenting physicality and technical perfection, with Afro-American themes, dominating masculinity and New York pizazz. Breathing space for performer and audience alike was in short supply.


Germany considered changing the autobahn speed limit and people weren't happy
102497 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z World

Germany considered changing the autobahn speed lim…

by Cathrin Schaer

A Government-initiated working group suggested putting a speed limit of 130km/h on motorways to lower emissions and make roads safer. Big mistake.

Read more
Stan & Ollie pays tribute to Laurel and Hardy's brilliant buffoonery
102440 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Movies

Stan & Ollie pays tribute to Laurel and Hardy's br…

by James Robins

John C Reilly and Steve Coogan are lifelong devotees to comic duo Laurel and Hardy – and it shows.

Read more
Colin Hogg: Why my mates matter (and keep on ending up in my books)
102594 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Books

Colin Hogg: Why my mates matter (and keep on endin…

by Colin Hogg

With his second book about Sam Hunt proving a hit, Colin Hogg ponders why so much of his writing career has been inspired by his mates.

Read more
Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot People’s Choice Award
102345 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Top 50 Restaurants

Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot P…

by Metro

Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot People’s Choice Award and be in to win dinner for two.

Read more
Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri dieback disease
102578 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri di…

by Bob Harvey

The closer you get to a kauri, the more you realise you are looking at one of the wonders of the planet.

Read more
National’s failure to grasp climate change a major challenge for NZ
102598 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

National’s failure to grasp climate change a major…

by Steve Abel

National's Bluegreen wing are set to hold their annual conference this weekend. Greenpeace’s Steve Abel will be there to challenge the party.

Read more
The native Mandarin speaker who's translating te reo on television
102606 2019-02-20 22:10:47Z Education

The native Mandarin speaker who's translating te r…

by Vomle Springford

Lidu Gong first started learning te reo in bed.

Read more
Win a double pass to Everybody Knows
102573 2019-02-20 13:19:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Everybody Knows

by The Listener

Starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Everybody Knows is a gripping new thriller about the fissures and fault lines that can tear a family apart.

Read more