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Ballet Moves With The Times

Media Release
23 January 2004

The Meridian Energy Season of Saltarello
Choreography: Christopher Hampson
Music: 14th century music
Design: Gary Harris

Choreography: Adrian Burnett
Music: John Psathas
Design: Tracy Grant

The Celebrated Soubrette
Choreography: Javier De Frutos
Music: Michael Daugherty
Design: Jackie Galloway
All lighting design: John Rayment

Classical ballet gets a shake-up with the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s innovative programme of contemporary dance, The Meridian Energy Season of Saltarello.

The line-up features Abhisheka by Kiwi Adrian Burnett. Burnett, a resident choreographer with the Australian Ballet, is fast gaining an international reputation for his work.

“This is ballet for the 21st century. We are grabbing classical ballet by the scruff of its neck and hauling it into the here and now,” says Artistic Director Gary Harris.

Dance-lovers can expect a programme that marries the art of classical ballet with the energy of today’s dance.

“Every art form must continue to grow and develop with the times – and dance is no different. One of the hottest issues facing the future of ballet is striking the elusive balance between traditional movement and innovation,” he says.

The trio of works feature simple, bold staging and stylised costuming. They are abstract, in the sense they do not have a story, but they do have ideas and themes to follow, just like a piece of music.

Mysterious and sensual, Christopher Hampson’s Saltarello reveals a sharp, 21st century originality in perfect, classical technique. Dressed in slinky silver and black, the dancers shift mood and pace, from noble elegance to explosive energy in a heartbeat.
A compelling combination of early music and bravura displays of dancing, Saltarello is another triumph from the creative force behind the company’s landmark Romeo and Juliet.

Abhisheka, Sanskrit for initiation, proves to be just that: a new work from expat choreographer Adrian Burnett. Inspired by ceremonial cleansing rites, Abhisheka flows eloquently from John Psathas’ score in deep, hypnotic ways. Burnett is a choreographer whose ballets reflect the tempo and energy of today’s world. By working with contemporary music, design and themes he has produced works that are stimulating and entertaining for companies such the iconic New York City Ballet and The Australian Ballet.

Show-stopping in the truest sense, The Celebrated Soubrette is Javier De Frutos’ tribute to Las Vegas nightlife. With soul-searching and sequins in equal measure, the work is informed by the gritty true-life stories of people working in the entertainment capital of the world. Michael Daugherty’s appealing score is inspired by the over-the-top style of American musical icon, Liberace. Described by the Daily Telegraph as “a true audience pleaser, glitzy, funny and capable of producing a little lump in the throat too", The Celebrated Soubrette was first performed by Rambert Dance Company in 2000.

The Meridian Energy Season of Saltarello opens in Palmerston North on 25 February, tours to Napier Auckland, Dunedin and Christchurch before adding its lustre to the 2004 New Zealand International Arts Festival on 18 March 2003.

This season’s choreographers

New Zealand-born Adrian Burnett, aged 33, has created works for companies such as the iconic New York City Ballet and The Australian Ballet, where he is one of its resident choreographers. The Herald Sun (Australia) said Burnett’s work “surprises with its deft composition, rich patterning and carefully measured momentum.”

UK choreographer Christopher Hampson’s work is well known to Kiwi audiences. In 2001 Saltarello first toured New Zealand on the RNZB's Nationwide Road Tour. Last year his production of Romeo and Juliet was a major critical and box office success for the RNZB. In writing about the 30-year-old's award winning choreography, many critics have noted his gentle blend of classicism and invention.

UK-based, Venezuelan-born Javier De Frutos, aged 40, is known for his flamboyant style. This is the second time one of his works has been performed by the RNZB – his first, Milagros, toured as part of Tutus on Tour in 2003.

Once described as 'a maverick of the dance world', De Frutos' work is noted for its exciting theatricality and unique movement style. In 2000 the digital arts channel Artsworld filmed a documentary following the making of The Celebrated Soubrette for Rambert Dance Company and also a companion broadcast of its performance at Sadler’s Wells.

Palmerston North, Regent on Broadway Wednesday 25 February 7.30pm
Thursday 26 February 7.30pm
Book at TicketDirect 0800 484 253

Napier, Municipal Theatre
Saturday 28 February 7.30pm
Sunday 29 February 6.30pm
Book at Ticketek 06 835 1059

Auckland, Aotea Centre
Wednesday 3 March 7.30pm
Thursday 4 March 7.30pm
Friday 5 March 7.30pm
Saturday 6 March 7.30pm
Book at Ticketek 09 307 5000

Dunedin, Regent Theatre
Tuesday 9 March 7.30pm
Book at Ticketek 03 477 8597

Christchurch, Theatre Royal
Friday 12 March 7.30pm
Saturday 13 March 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 14 March 6.30pm
Book at Ticketek 03 377 8899
Book at Ticketek 03 377 8899

Wellington, Westpac St James Theatre
As part of the 2004 New Zealand International Arts Festival
Thursday 18 March 7.30pm
Friday 19 March 7.30pm
Saturday 20 March 7.30pm
Sunday 21 March 6.30pm
Book at Ticketek 04 384 3840

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