RNZB's 2019 Choreographic Season

by Nadine Armiger


At the beginning of March, so so long ago, before we all as a nation got the shock of our lives, in a different & more innocent & naive era . . I wrote this:


It’s not always simple, straightforward & easy being a passionate devotee (‘fangirl’) of both the Royal New Zealand Ballet AND New Zealand choreography . .

Dancers: Caroline Wiley, Fabio Lo Giudice, Kihiro Kusukami. Photo Credit: Ross Brown

Dancers: Caroline Wiley, Fabio Lo Giudice, Kihiro Kusukami. Photo Credit: Ross Brown

The choreographic season (what a utilitarian name, lacking in pizazz) doesn’t tour to Auckland, so I had to travel to Wellington to get my fix. Sadly the ballet-fangirl life continues to be a rich-person’s game as it takes a considerable investment of funds, not to mention getting up at 5 am to travel to the airport.

Was it worth it? Happy to confirm that yes it was! FINALLY some mind-blowing choreography embodied by the RNZB performers (I LOVE DANCERS. PROTECT THEM AT ALL COSTS!)

It was SO GOOD & my number one question has to be - why aren’t we seeing this kind of thing all the time, on all the tours, to all the centres? I have no interest at all in seeing last-century’s choreography from overseas, honestly sitting through ONE work by Balanchine or Forsythe is enough for a lifetime, it reminds me of why people who think “ballet is boring” think ballet is boring. 

Nadia Yanowsky & Alexandre Ferreira - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Nadia Yanowsky & Alexandre Ferreira - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Hine choreographed by Moss Te Ururangi Patterson

Tuturu whakamaua kia tina - TINA!  Haumi e, hui e, TAIKI E! How perfect is this karakia-concluison for dancers? It references embodying ideas to make them come true, joining together as a group . . & that’s exactly what dancers do.

I love watching Moss’ work (eg ‘One’ & ‘Pango’), I always find it so easy to connect with, it’s full of recognition & familiarity. I don’t have to search for meaning, it’s so comforting the whole way through to be thinking ‘I get that reference’.  Hine was resonant, moving, & relevant to my lived experiences as a New Zealander. I was so proud of Luke leading the haka & channelling nga tupuna into the Opera House space. It was so beautiful to see the dancers recreating shapes of wharenui, embodying the masculine/feminine dynamic through light & darkness, highlighting the connectedness of the two sides with the connected sleeves. It was so clever, & Nadia & Alex were stunning. Visually I loved the use of floor, levels, canon & circles (I am all about that porohita choreography - so pleasing!). The use of Alien Weaponry music just made me so happy, it was an unexpected choice for ballet, but again the familiarity of it just further cemented my belief that ballet IS real life, it’s not some ‘other’ thing that exists overseas/in the olden days.

Caroline Wiley - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Caroline Wiley - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

The Sky Is Not So Different From Us, Perhaps choreographed by James O’Hara

Watching dancing to live music is always the best way to experience it, & having the musician on stage & part of the visual performance is even better! I was really interested by the programme notes & the processes that went into producing this choreography, however the zero-waste costumes (such a great idea!) were ill-fitting with bulky bunching & slouching in all the wrong places. 

This work was danced as 6 separate solos at the same time. When a group of performers (not just dancers - actors or musicians well) are onstage & not interacting with each other or with the audience, it’s really hard to engage with, & I struggled hard to keep my attention focused.

Paul Mathews & Maddy Graham - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Paul Mathews & Maddy Graham - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

The Ground Beneath Our Feet choreographed by Shaun James Kelly

In the interval straight after this piece, a little girl yelled out MY FAVOURITE WAS THE RAINBOW ONE.  (Everyone else: SAME, little girl, SAME.) I loved the energy & fun & joy & the casting & the rainbow-coloured costumes. The stunts & tricks were spectacular but still dancey, & fitted in perfectly with the musicality. I was jaw-dropped like WHAAAAT?!? a lot of the time when I wasn’t grinning from ear to ear. The music was brilliant, Massimo’s collab with Bach was stunning. I loved the fresh non-traditional partnering work, such Maddy & Paul with their significant height difference, or seeing boys partnering boys, & also Mayu & Alex when she spun around with her foot up & it went under his hand! This work was an absolute joy to watch & I’m so grateful I got to see it. 

Abigail Boyle - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Abigail Boyle - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Artemis Rising choreographed by Sarah Foster-Sproull for Abigail Boyle

Well. What can anyone really say about this? Abi’s work is always filled with power, beauty & charisma. She is a legend, an icon & a much-adored queen among her multitudes of fans. How perfect that Sarah chose to portray her as the goddess archetype for her final performances with the RNZB. I love Sarah’s work (eg ‘Orchids’ & Unitec’s 2018 graduation piece which MESSED ME UP), it’s always strongly communal, powerfully symbolic & deeply cathartic. It was so special to see Abi’s connection with the company’s newest/youngest dancers, honouring them by having them honour her. A truly magical experience that I’m so thankful to have witnessed.

Luke Cooper (Te Arawa) leading the ‘Hine’ haka - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

Luke Cooper (Te Arawa) leading the ‘Hine’ haka - Photo credit: Stephen A'Court.

I don’t watch dance with my brain, I watch it with my body, because that’s where my emotions live. I don’t want to get involved in intellectual analysis, I want to be jumping out of my skin with excitement. These performers are not a theoretical construct or mindless dolls to be played with, they are making magic with the light of their souls, & it is a gift to be able to witness it. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.


RNZB Don Q Preview

by Nadine Armiger


I saw this very production of Don Quixote in 2008. Isn't that weird? I've already seen it! Is this a sign of my cultured-ness and sophistication, or am I just getting old?

Qi Huan & Katie Hurst-Saxton in 2008.

Qi Huan & Katie Hurst-Saxton in 2008.

Sadly this programme got a little munted as A Certain Person dropped it on the driveway and I accidentally ran over it with my car . . (soz Qi! So disrespectful!)

It was the second RNZB production I'd seen post-having-babies (the first one was Romeo and Juliet - can you IMAGINE! Blew my tiny MIND!) I took 3 kids with me and to this day we remember it as The One With The Little Dog. (And for years Paul Mathews was The Dude With The Little Dog.) (It's OK Paul, you're 'Doctor Coppelius' these days . . )

The Little Dog! Aww . . 

The Little Dog! Aww . . 

I also remember the windmills, the gypsies (I was dazzled by their hair-up-hair-down-hair-up skillz), the sailors, and two gorgeous girls in beautiful circle skirts - one was pink and one was purple.

Qi Huan & Katie Hurst-Saxton in 2008.

Qi Huan & Katie Hurst-Saxton in 2008.

I remember Medhi Angot was Basilio, because I have an Iranian friend called Mehdi and the name was similar enough to stick in my mind. I don't remember who Kitri was, but I do remember she had an unlucky moment of wobbling . . . oh dear!

I don't really remember much else about it - it doesn't seem to have much of a storyline, and I always want any ballet performance to give me All The Feels, which this one clearly didn't. And of course I was not the ninja-level fangirl I have become today, so I didn't really know who anyone was . . (How times have changed, haha!)

Nonetheless, I am very interested in seeing this production again, knowing what I know now, and of course seeing all the recognisable familiar faves dancing these roles. Should be fun! Look at the gorgeous Clytie Campbell being poster girl - doesn't she look utterly beautiful?

Clytie Campbell in 2015.

Clytie Campbell in 2015.

Don Q opens in Wellington on 4 March, then tours through Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Auckland and Palmerston North. (details


RNZB - 'A Christmas Carol'

by Nadine Armiger


What a JOYOUS piece of entertainment!

Evan Li.

Evan Li.

The great advantage of 'A Christmas Carol' is that it has such a strong storyline. There may be less opportunity for dazzling virtuoso displays of technical brilliance, but the ballet is so easy to engage with and there is never a dull moment.

Evan Li.

Evan Li.

The set is extraordinary! The way all the pieces were moved and transformed by the dancers was very clever, and the slide was SO exciting. I was lucky enough to see the show twice, and the slide was just as exciting the second time around!

Mayu Tanigaito as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Paul Mathews as Scrooge. Photo by Evan LI.

Mayu Tanigaito as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Paul Mathews as Scrooge. Photo by Evan LI.

I was really impressed with Rory Fairweather-Neylan's portrayal of Scrooge - he brought out the angry side of a Scrooge who had been badly hurt in the past. And I just love the RNZB laid-back attitude to casting, with Rory's old Scrooge cast alongside Kohei Iwamoto's young Scrooge: even though they are different heights, different colouring and different ethnicities, they are both fantastic leading dancers so SURE they can play the same character, why not?  (And again with newcomer 'Gorgeous' George Liang cast as the son of Shane Urton and Madison Geoghegan despite lack of family resemblance.)

Lucy Green and Shane Urton as Belle and Young Scrooge.

Lucy Green and Shane Urton as Belle and Young Scrooge.

The highly-anticipated heartbreaking duet between Belle and Young Scrooge was just as 'totes-emosh' as expected. Mayu Tanigaito and Kohei danced it beautifully, and from the front row I was able to hear them sniffing back tears! By the end, Mayu was standing right in front of me and I was willing her not to cry because if she started crying then I'd start crying . . (everyone started crying).

Evan Li.

Evan Li.

Mum & Dad Fezziwig were complete scene-stealers! Just like Cinderella's stepsisters, we couldn't take our eyes off them. Kirby Selchow and Laura Saxon Jones each brought their own humour to Mrs Fezziwig, and both times Harry Skinner played Mr Fezziwig to absolute PERFECTION.

Front row: Joseph Skelton, Yang Liu, Jacob Chown, Clytie Campbell. Photo Evan Li.

Front row: Joseph Skelton, Yang Liu, Jacob Chown, Clytie Campbell. Photo Evan Li.

The live singing was a bonus - some of the dancers have really stunning voices.

Evan Li.

Evan Li.

There were huge amounts of characters, and lots of quick changes for many of the dancers who got plenty of opportunity to showcase their versatility, appearing as characters who were young, old, ghosts, happy, sad, drunk, sober, rich, poor, respectable or very definitely NOT respectable! 

Evan Li.

Evan Li.

It was such a delight to watch each dancer inhabit their various roles with their own unique style, whether they are charismatic dancers, strong dancers, sweet dancers, beautiful dancers, cheeky dancers, fluid dancers, sparkly dancers, powerful dancers, fun dancers, convincing dancers, lovely dancers or sincere dancers . . Thank you yet again RNZB for all of your enormous hard work! SUCH FUN. ;)


Sydney Dance Company - 2 One Another

by Nadine Armiger


Stop thinking about it and just let it happen to you.

 

Start to finish . . . BEAUTIFUL.

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Tell you what, though - my familiar ballet crowd is SO friendly and chatty and full of every generation from kids to great-grannies. The contemporary dance crowd is way more arty, snobby and has less of the family feel. They also tend more towards the dragged-through-a-bush-backwards aesthetic, unlike ballet fans who LOVE to dress up and look pretty! I also had the misfortune to be seated next to two terribly posh old biddies who had pinched someone else's seat but played dumb so she had to find another seat, who talked loudly during the performance (RUDE!), and who took way too long to realise that the cellphone ringing mid-show was one of theirs. Having said that, despite no claps at all throughout the whole show, for curtain call the crowd went CRAZY. Endless applause and whistles and cheers and calls of 'Bravo!' that went on and on. The dancers started out very professional and poised, but after about 12 or 15 bows they were just grinning and giggling with delight. Thoroughly deserved, too!

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The music was so exciting! It was like movie music, it just swept you up and carried you along on an emotional roller-coaster. And the loud parts were so loud they reverberated through my ribcage. Fun!

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The cast were gorgeous! Young fit beautiful people who did actually look like normal humans instead of idealised fairytale creatures. I loved all the differing heights and the real-life features of beards, tattoos, undercuts, fringes, man-buns and bob cuts. So cool!

SDC_2oneAnother-photo-Ken-Butti-02.jpg

I can be quite fussy about lighting, in a really boring "Too dark! Can't see their faces!" way. The lighting for this show was spectacularly clever and perfectly suited to the dancing. At some points they even bounced really bright reflected light into the theatre and lit up the whole audience. Definitely the best dance-show lighting I've ever seen.

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The costumes were perfect - almost minimal, with the first black costumes being a similar-but-different collection of leggings and leotards. And I want a red romper suit now! I've been convinced that it's a look. I believe!

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I'm not a contemporary dancer, so I couldn't anticipate or predict anything. All the movement unfolded in a magically unexpected way (to me). My favourite parts were the synchronised group dances - they were so powerful. Duets are always easy to watch, too. (LOVED all the boy-girl/boy-boy/girl-girl pairings!) The solos were a bit trickier as I kept trying to work out what was going on, and I had to keep reminding myself to stop thinking about it and just let it happen to you . . 

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The cast all performed so flawlessly and with such amazing energy. I got a last-minute ticket (literally less than an hour before curtain up) so I was in Row K as that was the closest I could get. Normally I like to sit in the front row and just get bombarded with the whole experience, and of course you can see all the sweat and hard work from that close. But from Row K it was all quite invisible. I don't know who any of the dancers are except for of course Alana Sargent (she's the little blonde one with the wrist tatt), but they were all fabulous. In particular one of the bearded dudes was completely mesmerising.

 

Such a great night out - what a privilege to have seen this show. It was a lot of hard work on my part to get there for the closing show - months ago I had set an intention to go to any show I could manage, but I missed the first three! Reasonably priced tickets (no orchestra), a short one-hour-ten show that absolutely whizzed by, and I got home in time to shovel my kids into bed. Living the dream!


Dance gear for sale

by Nadine Armiger


I have lots of dance gear for sale at G Park Hall. Please let me know by text or email if you are interested, as the dancers and I are all VERY BUSY at the moment and don't have time to try things on etc during class time. You will need to do this BEFORE or AFTER class time.

 

White jazz leggings are $10.

Cropped leggings are my preference. (However it is harder to find these in smaller sizes.)

I have plenty in sizes 16, 14, 12, 10, 9, 8, and limited amounts in sizes 7, 5, 4.

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More $10 white jazz leggings. These are full length and plain, in small sizes only.

Sizes 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. (Bonus pic of my Grade 1 cuties . . )

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Black sleeveless jazz leotards. (Discontinued.) Farmers leos are $18, Kmart leos $10.

Sizes 12, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 10/12, 8/10, 6/8.

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Rosette skirts $18.

Sizes 7, 6, 5, 4.

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Size 12 ballet tights $10.

Size 10 short sleeve ballet leotard $20. (Discontinued.)

Size 6 long sleeve ballet leotard $20. (Discontinued.)

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Sleeveless pink ballet leotards. Farmers, $18. (Discontinued.)

Sizes 14, 12, 10, 7, 5, 4.

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Can't see what you need? I'm sure Rae will be able to help you: 

http://www.littledream.co.nz/

- Nadine


Reading material: I've been featured on 'Maria's Movers'!

by Nadine Armiger


I'm pretty excited about this . . 

The incredibly inspiring Maria Hanley of Maria's Movers fame runs a weekly profile series called 'Creating With Kids' - and this week it's my turn!  :)  I am so honoured to be included in such an impressive list of teachers - every week reading the latest profile has taught me something new.

I think my favourite interview so far has been with Kate Barber of Big Steps Little Feet - it really resonated with me:

Teaching is a moving meditation – it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling or how busy and stressed I may be, when I arrive at the door & as soon as the kids arrive and I start class, I’m 100% focused on what’s happening right here and now with energy and focus, there is no time to dwell at all on anything that’s happening in my life or my head. Which means I always finish work feeling better and calmer than when I arrived.

Big Steps Little Feet

Big Steps Little Feet

Maria's website also includes TONNES of clever ideas for creative dance classes with littlies. The whole site is filled with useful, brilliant ideas. I would love to be as helpful and inspiring to my readers as Maria is to hers.

Maria Hanley

Maria Hanley

Thank you Maria for featuring me, and for everything you do for dance. You are AWESOME.

- Nadine


'Giselle: The Movie' on DVD

by Nadine Armiger


Gillian Murphy and Qi Huang.

Gillian Murphy and Qi Huang.

Yay, this movie is now available on DVD, and of course I wasted no time in getting my sticky paws on my very own copy. (I bought it here.)

Abigail Boyle as Myrtha.

Abigail Boyle as Myrtha.

Director Toa Fraser and DOP Leon Narbey have done a brilliant job, capturing a very respectful yet fresh and artistic interpretation of the Ethan Stiefel/Johan Kobborg staging, performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2012.

Toa Fraser and Ethan Steifel.

Toa Fraser and Ethan Steifel.

Plus it has EXTRAS - woohoo! Here are a few snippets from the cast and crew interviews:

"What we aimed for right from day one is to make something that is beautiful, that is respectful and reverential of this classic ballet."  - Matthew Metcalfe, producer.

"I was working with two incredible actors as much as dancers."  - Toa Fraser, director.

"To have that captured on film from a live performance is a rare thing in the ballet world. A lot of what we do is ephemeral - we perform and you either were there or you weren't, which is part of the beauty of our art, but it's also bittersweet."  -Gillian Murphy, 'Giselle'.

'It's me being that character. I can become the character, rather than try to pretend to be the character."  -Qi Huan, 'Albrecht'.

'A lot of people think that [the good guy] is Hilarion and a lot of other people think that it's Albrecht. I think that the good guy is Giselle! It's just lovely how even though she was hurt deeply, she could still forgive."  - Abigail Boyle, 'Myrtha'.

The powerful Act 2 pas de deux was filmed in a small intimate studio.

The powerful Act 2 pas de deux was filmed in a small intimate studio.

When I saw this production live, I saw it with a different cast: Antonia Hewitt as Giselle, Andrew Bowman as Albrecht, Lucy Balfour as Myrtha (I miss you and your gorgeous dancing, Lucy!), and Dimitri Kleioris as Hilarion. They were all BRILLIANT, so it was fascinating to see the same roles performed in the movie by other dancers. The movie cast are also absolutely brilliant, but quite different. It amazes me that such a tightly prescribed artform as ballet still produces such unique results depending on who is dancing each role.

I just  love  Act 1 of Giselle. I think in a past life I must have been a village peasant. ;)

I just love Act 1 of Giselle. I think in a past life I must have been a village peasant. ;)

The RNZB are taking this production on tour to the USA in early 2014, and rehearsals are already underway. 

Aww, the feels . . 

Aww, the feels . . 

Do you know the BEST thing about watching ballet at home on DVD? We can talk! We usually yell out dancers' names ('Helio!'  'Tonia!') whenever they appear in shot (I think this could become the basis of a drinking game, actually . . ) Or we supply dialogue: "How about a kiss, baby? Go on!' etc etc. Very silly, I know, but too hard to resist!

Tell me - did you see this production live? Have you seen the movie? Are you planning to buy yourself the DVD for Christmas? Let me know here or here.

- Nadine


Reading Material: New York City Ballet & bun-making

by Nadine Armiger


Ballet Buzz: NYCB's 'city.ballet' video series

AOL.

AOL.

The New York City Ballet is featured in this series of short episodes (about 7 or 8 minutes each). They are all online right now for binge-watching if you're keen, but I've been watching one episode a week following along with Dance Teacher magazine's weekly recaps.

What I find very striking is the strictly regimented ranking system of apprentices/corps/soloists/principals. It seems hard-hearted and even a little unfair, but I suppose since NYCB is a world-renowned company (and since dancers passionately love to dance!), there is no shortage of dance-labour to be swallowed up by the machine.

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If you'd like to watch them all they are here, or if you'd like to read the Dance Teacher magazine recaps, they are here:

Teacher Talk: How to make a 'figure-8' ballet bun

The San Francisco Ballet have put together a short, simple ballet-bun photo tutorial that is ideal for long, all-one-length hair and creates a beautiful sleek bun that lies nice and flat to the head. 

Tell me - do you like sleek buns or are you more of a 'sock-bun' fan? And are the city.ballet episodes making you long for the return of The Secret Lives of Dancers? Let me know what you think here or here!

- Nadine


Dance teachers - how do you measure success?

by Nadine Armiger


Here I am, running my own dance school which I started in Feb 2008 with 14 dancers  . . 

 

After nearly 6 years, how successful have I been? Have I been successful? How do I know?

 

Possible measures of a successful dance school could be:

  • High numbers of students
  • Large annual income
  • Sold out audiences at annual concert
  • Winning results at dance competitions
  • Graduating students being accepted into prestigious schools or professional companies
  • Excellent exam results

Hmmm . . Do I qualify as successful under any of these criteria? (Spoiler: not hugely.) 

Do I feel successful, though? Actually yes, a lot of the time I do!

  • People pay me money. 
  • They trust me with their children. 
  • My students turn up to class. 
  • Many of them have been with me for years.
  • Plenty of people keep coming back! 
  • I am learning and improving.
  • My confidence is growing.
  • My students enter and pass exams.
  • Our overall exam results are improving year by year.
  • My dancers turn up for and perform in the concert.
  • We have a lot of fun! 
  • We love to dance.
  • We laugh a lot.
  • My students love me and I love them.
  • Dancing is fun! (For me and for my students.)
  • Teaching is fun - I love it.
  • I have built relationships with so many children and their families in this small rural community.
  • I have been able to maintain those relationships even if those students are no longer dancing with me.
  • I love knowing who everyone is!
  • I like being well-known in a small town (world-famous in Waimauku!).
  • I enjoy working for myself.
  • I appreciate being able to work from home. (The hall I teach in is just over the road.)
  • I love my job.
  • My job is fun! 

I remember reading somewhere that people are most strongly motivated by one of:

  • Fun (wahey!)
  • Power
  • Being right
  • Having an easy life

If I measure success as fun then yes! It's happening. 

 

However, fun doesn't pay the bills, and I am always very conscious of where every dollar is coming from and where it is going.  My life would definitely be easier and I would do a lot more travelling if I made more money.

 

Tell me - what does success look like to you? Is it measured in money? In fun? Love? Power, control, influence? Fame? Winning? Share here or here - I'd love to know!

- Nadine


Reading Material: behind-the-scenes blogs & music editing

by Nadine Armiger


Ballet Buzz: tour blogs from Team Alpha and Team Beta.

Photo by  Tonia Looker .

Photo by Tonia Looker.

It's true, I never shut up about the Royal New Zealand Ballet (they're awesome, haven't you heard?). At the moment the company is split into two teams touring the whole of New Zealand, and each team has a blog you can follow.

The lovely Tonia Looker (known in our house as either 'Sleeping-Beauty-and-Cinderella' or 'my Facebook friend Tonia') (hehe) has a fabulous blog right here. Gorgeous pics, fascinating behind-the-scenes stories, and lovely discussions in the comments. The pointe shoe post is particularly interesting!

Photo by  Tonia Looker .

Photo by Tonia Looker.

The blog from Team Beta is so cute! There are a LOT of exclamation marks and endearing English-as-a-second-language expressions. I've heard Kohei and Dimitri are behind this one . . .

Photo from  betatinz .

Photo from betatinz.

Dancers seem to be slightly obsessed with their shoes and their feet . .  ;)

Photo from  betatinz .

Photo from betatinz.

Teacher Talk: How to edit music in GarageBand. (tutorial)

Photo from  The Dance Buzz .

Photo from The Dance Buzz.

I use this excellent video tutorial when it's concert season (because I can't remember how to edit music from one year to the next!). Under the video there is also a written transcript with screenshots - it's really easy to follow and extremely helpful. Thank you to The Dance Buzz!

Got any favourite dance websites you'd like to share? Tell me on Facebook here or here.

- Nadine


RNZB's Tutus on Tour

by Nadine Armiger


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I love the RNZB and I never miss a show (except for that one time I had swine flu and missed 'Carmen' . . ) I took my 11-yr-old along to Q Theatre to catch Team Beta's show, and the following weekend I took my birthday-girl self to Green Bay to see Team Alpha. I love that this year I was able to see both teams; in the past there has been a a North Island team and a South Island team, but this year I got to see everybody! 

With only 16 dancers per team, the casts are obviously a lot smaller and the venues are small too, which suits me fine as I love sitting in the front row and seeing everything in glorious close-up.

Photo by Evan Li.

Photo by Evan Li.

The format was straightforward - five pas de deux in the first half, and 'Peter and the Wolf' in the second half (a new work, choreographed by Brendan Bradshaw and Catherine Eddy).

Cat and Brendan in rehearsal. Photo by  Steven A'Court .

Cat and Brendan in rehearsal. Photo by Steven A'Court.

I wanted to share some of my highlights . .  (I googled as hard as I could, however the pictures match the works, but unfortunately not the dancers! Evan Li, you photographic wizard, get yourself a website and help a sister out!)

I loved the partnership of Abigail Boyle and Dimitri Kleioris dancing 'Charlie' - both these dancers are such powerful, charismatic performers, and pairing them together was spine-tingling. I've heard someone describe the choreography of this 2001 duet as dated, and maybe that's true, but it didn't matter! 

Maree and Loughlan in 'Charlie' - photo Evan Li.

Maree and Loughlan in 'Charlie' - photo Evan Li.

Mayu Tanigaito and Arata Miyagawa did the Don Q wedding pas de deux and absolutely nailed it! Ballet is so hard and so risky, and their assured, confident performance was dazzling.

Clytie and Brendan in 'Don Q' - photo Evan LI.

Clytie and Brendan in 'Don Q' - photo Evan LI.

Tonia Looker and Rory Fairweather-Neylan did a brilliant job in Flower Festival. They were cute and happy and made all the tricky Bournonville choreography look easy. Just lovely!

Kohei and Mayu in 'Flower Festival' - photo by Evan Li.

Kohei and Mayu in 'Flower Festival' - photo by Evan Li.

Antonia Hewitt and Qi Huan were stunning in Through to You - they seemed completely immersed in the music and each other. Because I go to a lot of matinees, I don't see Qi dance lead very often. He is amazingly good: strong, expressive, controlled.

Qi Huan in 'Through to You' - photo by Evan Li.

Qi Huan in 'Through to You' - photo by Evan Li.

And it is always a treat to watch Jacob Chown busting out all his spectacular jumps! The sweat was flying in the Don Q pas de deux, and of course I was in the front row, but Hayley's mum told me that as long as I kept my mouth shut I'd be fine . .  ;)

Jake and Lucy in 'Flower Festival' - photo by Evan Li.

Jake and Lucy in 'Flower Festival' - photo by Evan Li.

Peter and the Wolf was so much fun! The humour had us all in fits of laughter, the modern touches were very clever, the characterisation was great, and Te Radar was awesome! I thought he'd just be parked in a corner narrating, but he had heaps to do.

I was also lucky enough to see Team Alpha doing company class, which was led by Qi. He did a great job, but every time he made a mistake with the counts the dancers all laughed! I love watching class, it's endlessly fascinating to me as a teacher, and my legs always twitch involuntarily because my muscles think they should be dancing too . . It was very special to be able to have quick chats with Qi, Tonia and Brendan afterwards. You people are awesome! Love your work!

(Can't believe I have to wait SIX MONTHS until I get to see Coppelia . . . )

Have you seen the show? What did you think? Let me know on Facebook here or here.

- Nadine


Blogcademy: Auckland 2013!

by Nadine Armiger


9 - 10 November 2013

I've known Gala Darling for years (since 2007!) and when the Blogcademy got off to a roaringly successful start and I asked her if I'd ever get the chance to attend a session in the Antipodes, I was told to 'watch this space!'

I immediately started saving up for a trip across the Tasman, so imagine my delight when the Blogcademy headmistresses announced an Auckland date!

Photo by  Jel Photography ; ears by  Crown and Glory .

Photo by Jel Photography; ears by Crown and Glory.

As a mate, I was more than happy to help out in whatever way I could, which put me in charge of goodie bags. Exciting parcels began arriving at my house from glamorous locations (Greece! Cornwall! sunny Nelson!), and I had to stack them unopened in my bedroom for months to keep them safe from nosey, sticky-fingered children . . 

The day before, when the coast was clear, I opened everything and it was just like Christmas! Glitter and prettiness everywhere! (I actually ironed the canvas goodie bags before packing them, because I'm a nerd . . . )

Photo by me.

Photo by me.

On day 1, after an early morning start with my gorgeous Fresh and Flawless friend Lauren, I trekked into the big city and found a park . . . (Bit stressful! Not my forte!) I met up with Gala at the top of the stairs for a big hug, then quickly introduced myself to Kat and Shauna. I had no time to be starstruck, but oh! What gorgeous glamorous girls! In Aotearoa in person! Wow!

Kat and Gala helped me bring the goodie bags in (to be honest they did most of the heavy lifting), then sent me off to Look Sharp on Victoria Street to get the giant silver 'B' balloons filled with helium. Of course the end result of that was me galloping down Queen St as fast as my little legs could carry me at 10 o'clock in the morning, carrying two HUGE helium balloons. Everyone was totally looking at me. Lucky I'm not shy!

I got back just after 10, and most of the blogcadettes were already there. I had my 'glow' on after my Queen St dash, so snuck a seat in the back row to catch my breath. In the end Leonie Barlow ended up taking the seat next to me! (She's quite well-known and SUPER-charming.)

The actual workshop itself was PHENOMENAL. I went because a) it's my buddy Gala! and b) I thought it might be useful to me as a small business owner. (Spoiler: it was.) But I also thought there might be a fair bit of blog-specific content that wasn't relevant to me . . . and I was wrong! It was ALL incredibly useful and inspiring. There is SO MUCH that I could be doing.  

The headmistresses were so polished and professional, all three very comfortable speaking to a group, clearly on a roll as a well-oiled machine. They are all gorgeous, entertaining and relatable - what a combo!

Photo by me.

Photo by me.

My fellow blogcadettes were all so awesome! What a bunch of ridiculously cool chicks! Plenty of different backgrounds, locations, industries and age-groups, but all of them such fascinating, enthusiastic and inspiring ladies. Not to mention Lyn the official videographer who wowed me with her wisdom, and Eleanor the official photographer who I had such fun chatting with (it was a very wide-ranging conversation, but the topic of BBC Sherlock did come up . . . ).

And yes! The Blogcademy is back in AKL in 2014, and yes! You should totally go!

Shauna: Your depth of knowledge is simply staggering, and my what beautiful eyes you have! 

Kat: You have taught me so much, and you are HILARIOUS.

Gala: You are a professional life-changer and I will forever be grateful that you helped me follow my dream. I love you!

- Nadine


'Valley Voice' article

by Nadine Armiger


Thank you so much to my lovely friend Helen Martin for this awesome write-up, and thank you to another gorgeous friend Nicole Calis for the fabulous cover photo!

If you're reading on your computer, click each photo to enlarge . .  On a phone or tablet, use the finger-zoom (you know how it works!)

- Nadine


Concert 2013

by Nadine Armiger


I'm just gonna say it - BEST SHOW YET. Well done everyone!

 - Nadine

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"Great show Missy. Good to see the kids enthusiasm and enjoyment."

"Good on ya for all the effort you put into making a magic day for all our gorgeous girls! So many ahhh moments and big smiles..."

"Thoroughly enjoyable Nadine! All your hard work and long hours have paid off. You will sleep well tonight ! Xxxxx"

 

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"Thanks Nadine for a fab show! The girls had a wonderful time, and it makes me so proud! Nanas and pops thoroughly enjoyed it!!! Great memories the girls will never forget. X"

"Awesome show well done on another fab year. Love seeing my girl up there enjoying herself so much. Thanks for all your hard work"

"Ariana feels like a superstar! I am a very proud mummy! All of her Whanau fans that came to awhi are super impressed! And you should be stoked with the awesome show that you produced! Hope you are enjoying your much deserved blob time. Xxxx"

 

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"Loved watching them all boogying along to each others' dances back stage - soo much fun!! Girls were singing and dancing along to Superstar while getting changed ...."

 

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'During the Kolo I hear Eddie say to Mum "Why are you crying Baba?" Her reply: "Because Ivka and Madeline are dancing our Croatian dance and they are beautiful!"'

 


Exams 2013

by Nadine Armiger


Due to enormously hard work by myself and the dancers, this year's overall results were the best yet! My first dancers entered exams in 2009, and I think I might be starting to get the hang of it . .  

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Mrs McGlinchy was a wonderful examiner, very kind and helpful to all the candidates. The dancers loved her.

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It was my first year with a boy dancer entering for exams, and my first year as an 'exam mum' . It is EXTRA nerve-racking doing the music for an exam when your own child is dancing!

Grade 3 Jazz, yo!

Grade 3 Jazz, yo!

Well done everyone for all your hard work - let's do it all again next year!  ;)

- Nadine

Walking from my house to the hall . .

Walking from my house to the hall . .