An anniversary night of highlights

Danced well: Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Loughlan Prior and Maree White in Charlie from FrENzy, based on the music of Split Enz.
Danced well: Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers Loughlan Prior and Maree White in Charlie from FrENzy, based on the music of Split Enz.

Tutus on Tour - Royal New Zealand Ballet

St James Theatre, Wellington, until October 26

Reviewed by Ann Hunt

This enjoyable and effervescent family-friendly programme completes the celebration of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's 60th anniversary year. It includes highlights from the company's repertoire over this time and a new version of Peter and the Wolf.

For the tour, the company is split in two. Opening night featured the North Island cast, but the two will alternate for the Wellington season.

The first half consisted of five Pas de deux. Flower Festival at Genzano is as fresh as a daisy in spite of its age. Mayu Tanigaito and Kohei Iwamoto bring a delightful joie de vivre to their performance and cope well with the demands of the tricky Bournonville style.

Charlie, from FrENzy, was danced well by Maree White and Loughlan Prior, but both need to deepen their characterisations. The work is not about technique.

Anthony Tudor's Little Improvisations is a slight, sweet work. Katherine Grange and Iwamoto are two children playing in an attic on a rainy day. Grange showed a lovely line and pleasing style, and Iwamoto again impressed with his elevation and charming personality.

Andrew Simmons' Through to You was given a stunning interpretation by Abigail Boyle, ably partnered by Paul Mathews. He danced strongly but needs more emotional depth, whereas Boyle dances so that we feel everything we see.

The Wedding Pas de Deux from Don Quixote needs extreme technical brilliance and flamboyance to really succeed.

Helio Lima is technically strong and his Basilio had Latin fire, but Bronte Kelly's Kitri was too cautious and lacked bravura.

Choreographers Catherine Eddy and Brendan Bradshaw's Peter and the Wolf set Peter and his family in an inner-city apartment, where Father is too busy with his cellphone to kiss his son goodnight.

When Peter falls asleep, real- life characters become dream personas. Father becomes the Wolf, the sister a Jean Batten-type Bird and so on, while Peter's toys become real. The stage at times appeared a trifle crowded, but overall the design worked well.

Choreographically, the work was adequate, if a little ho-hum, particularly in the roles of the Cat and the Bird. But there was such a lot going on that it didn't matter a great deal.

Te Radar brought his energy and humour to the role of narrator and kept the pace going. Everyone danced with panache, particularly Iwamoto as Peter, Kelly as the Duck, White as the Grandmother and, of course, Paul Mathews as Father/Wolf.

Orchestra Wellington under the baton of the redoubtable Nigel Gaynor excelled themselves. The audience loved it, and everyone "ooh"-ed at the Duck's unfortunate demise.

The Dominion Post