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Ballet floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee…

19 July 2004

Ballet floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee…

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee: The Royal New Zealand Ballet is about to perform Madame Butterfly, the famous love story with a sting in its tail. Replace operatic gestures with passionate dancing, melodic voices with the instruments of the orchestra, and Puccini’s famous opera becomes ballet.

The TOWER Season of Madame Butterfly opens in Wellington on 23 July and tours Napier, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North until 4 September.Casting changes: two casts share the lead role of the beautiful geisha Cio-Cio San, known as Madame Butterfly, and Lieutenant Pinkerton. Jane Turner and Craig Lord will not be dancing these roles as previously publicised. A serious shoulder injury has prevented Lord from taking to the stage.

With only five days of rehearsals remaining, his co-star Jane Turner has decided against starting over with a new partner. Understudies Geordan Wilcox and Yu Takayama will step into the roles, alternating with opening night cast Douglas McCubbin and Amy Fote. Guest artist Fote is a principal dancer with Milwaukee Ballet. Updated casting is at:

Four-year old preschooler Daniel Shen and five-year old John Paul Lowe have been dancing for less than a year, but they are already footing it with the RNZB’s finest. The talented youngsters have been selected to dance the role of Sorrow, Cio-Cio San’s and Pinkerton’s love child, in Wellington. The company is holding auditions for dance students in all six centres.

A wig master has been specially hired to look after show’s 68 wigs and hairpieces, 37 hats and 21 headdresses. Between them, the company’s 32 dancers will don 260 costumes. Cio-Cio San has eight costume changes in the course of the ballet; the highlight, a stunning gold kimono with a 40-foot train.

The butterfly effect: only two of the company’s 32 dancers hail from the land of the rising sun. In order to transform themselves into geisha and samurai this season, the company’s dancers will go through $10,000 worth of foundation, eyeliner and lippy.

The elegant costuming ranges from ritual kimonos to Victorian gowns, naval uniforms to elaborate Samurai attire. Especially beautiful are the paper screens, fans of every size and glowing lanterns. The company holds its final onstage dress rehearsals this week:

Wednesday, 21 July, 7.30pm – Westpac St James Theatre, Wellington Cio-Cio San: Yu Takayama Pinkerton: Geordan Wilcox Sorrow: Daniel Shen Thursday, 22 July, 7.30pm – Westpac St James Theatre, Wellington Cio-Cio San: Amy Fote Pinkerton: Doug McCubbin Sorrow: John Paul Lowe Running times: Act I: 7.30-8.10pm, Interval: 25 minutes, Act II: 8.35-9.25pm


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