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.
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 . . ;)
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 . . . )