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Hasler Speech - Third Millennium Concert


Mr Speaker, Hon Doug Kidd; Telecom Chairman, Mr Peter Shirtcliffe; fellow MPs and invited guests, good evening to you all.

A very warm welcome to our third millennium occasion here in Parliament. I am particularly pleased to be hosting tonight's concert, because contemporary dance has always been a joyful part of my life.

Dance, in the generic sense, can be truly regarded, along with film, as a true product of the 20th century.

Although classical ballet is much older than its contemporary expression, it is the massive 20th century development of ballet that has truly transformed dance movement.

One of the most interesting things to me about dance is that it is an art form to which women have made an original and substantial contribution.

From a structure where fairy stories carried a narrative and an emotional burden beyond its real capacity, the dance was transformed through the pioneering framework of Isadora Duncan, through the brilliance and innovation of Martha Graham and Agnes de Mille right through to today's choreographers such as Mary Jane O'Reilly, Douglas Wright, Michael Parmenter and Shona McCullough.

What these people have done is to change entirely bodily movement, the very physical dancers able to participate in this art form, and to capture the strength of everyday life, the whole range of human emotions and sensuality. Dance has really pushed the boundaries of music, space, and our human relationships.

Tonight's concert has particular meaning for me as it marks the beginning of my new responsibilities as Minister for Culture and Heritage.

September 1 1999, is not only the first day of spring, but also the beginnings of the new ministry combining, for the first time in one portfolio, culture and heritage.

Before our concert begins I would like to thank Mr Speaker for the privilege of having our three millennium concerts in Parliament. Thank you Mr Speaker.

I would also like to say a special thank you to Telecom for their splendid and generous sponsorship of the Millennium series.

Telecom is a strong advocate of New Zealand arts. This was recognised just last week when Telecom won the National Business Review Award for Business Sponsorship of the Arts and The Edge Pathway Award for the most outstanding partnership between a business and a performing arts organisation.

These awards were both won for sponsorship of Michael Parmenter's latest dance work Jerusalem. (We are fortunate to have Michael dancing for us tonight.) The judges commented on the true partnership developed between Telecom and Michael Parmenter's Commotion Dance Company, delivering a work of outstanding quality encompassing contemporary dance, poetry, drama, music, song and the visual arts.

Telecom places a strong emphasis on contemporary performance reflecting New Zealand's culture and identity. I am delighted this is the case. Thank you.

Tonight we are indeed fortunate to experience works by five of New Zealand's finest ballet exponents - the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Douglas Wright, the Footnote Dance Company, the New Zealand School of Dance and Black Grace.

I am very pleased to introduce Michael Parmenter who will present the first work.

Thank you.

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