Review: Royal New Zealand Ballet – Stravinsky Selection (26 May 2011)


It is a bit late in the day to say, but if anyone deigns to read this, do seriously think about going to see the RNZB tonight or Saturday night to see this triple bill – it is very good.

Those not famiiar with the Rite of Spring might well feel the same way as those who saw the first performance.  Taking the score for piano roll, Javier de Frugos’ “Milagros” is a captivating work of ballet and dance which looks to contrast the aggressive, percussive disharmonic rhythms and other elements of the music.  The cast, who wear faint numbers on their back rather like netball players flow gracefully throughout, sometimes as a collective, other times paired off.  Not geometrically or structurally, but with a naturalness to it that seems primal. This in turn contrasts the score very well. But you have to remind yourself that this is the Rite of Spring – as Stravinsky himself wrote, a picture of a sacred pagan ritual: the wise elders seated in a circle and are observing the dance before death of the girl whom they are offering as a sacrifice to the god of Spring in order to gain his benevolence.  The cruelty that is inherent in the tory is not spared thus making “Milagros” a powerful yet elegant work, completely captivating.  It was performed beautifully – an excellent start to the evening.

“Satisfied With Great Success” is a newly commissioned piece by Cameron McMillan with costumes by Karen Walker.  The music came from the Scènes de Ballet performed with the Auckland Philharmona under Marc Taddei. Given the intensity of ‘Milagros’, this suffered as it appears to lack a defined theme or structure, the dance seemingly reactive to something, but exactly what, it was hard to say. Perhaps it might have been better to start with this.

For “Petrouchka”, the stage seemed too small for the entire cast to make their presence known. However, the rather cramped atmosphere is deliberate, one feels – it is the Shrovetide festival in St. Petersberg, there’s plenty going on ! The sets are faithful to the vision spelled out by Aleksandr Benois and if you were not familiar with the story, it would not be difficult to work it out. Some solid performances from the soloists (The Moor, The Ballerina, The Charlatan and Petrouchka of course) make for a very satisfying performance.

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About TI

TI is based in Auckland, New Zealand. TI's somewhat eclectic interests include (but are certainly not limited to) legal humour (the law can be funny), good wine, the search for the best possible chocolate, alcoholic beverages, travel, commercial aircraft, photography, weird news stories and classical music.
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