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WOW Awards Show 2011 Would Make Fellini Proud

Brancott Estate WOW Awards Show 2011 Would Make Fellini Proud

The Brancott Estate* *World of WearableArt™ (WOW®) Awards Show would have made Italian film director Fellini proud, as show-goers are blown away in its opening night by fantasy and surrealism, and a surprise visit from Tim Shadbolt.

The Brancott Estate* *WOW® Awards Show is in its 23rd year, with 160 garments being brought to life in a stunning choreographed performance featuring the full company of Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) dancers, professional dancers from Wellington’s Footnote Dance and the entire first year of the New Zealand School of Dance.

The 2011 Awards Show has come together through the creative vision of Suzie Moncrieff WOW® Founder and Malia Johnston, WOW®’s Principal Choreographer and Artistic Director, along with the 400 cast and crew.

Malia Johnston says that from the minute people walk in to this year’s show, they are confronted by the fantasy and surrealism that was the trademark of Fellini.

“Bizarre characters play and perform as people make their way to their seats, entertaining and wowing people as soon as they walk in,” Johnston says. “Then there is two hours of wall-to-wall colour, performance, energy and creativity, featuring 160 of the world’s best wearable works of art.

“There’s also a distinctly subterranean subtext to the show,” she says. “From beneath the surface emerge weird, wacky and wonderful characters, and a triffid-like plant that grows in the opening.”

There are seven dynamic and completely different WOW® Awards Show sections; the Children’s section, the CentrePort Illumination Illusion® Section, The Gen-i Creative Excellence Section: Under the Microscope, The American Express Open Section, The World of WearableArt™ & Classic Cars Museum’s Man Unleashed Section, Tourism New Zealand’s Avant Garde Section and the Air New Zealand Kiwi Icons Section.

The theme of the Children’s section is ‘food’. The brief to designers was to “enter into a surreal world – a weird dimension full of freaky food”. That provides the license for a distinctly hallucinogenic twist, as bunnies bob by while a ‘Fat Lady’ can’t contain her appetite and cupcakes sing. And was that Julie Andrews chasing that nun?

In the CentrePort Illumination Illusion® Section, the surrealism theme continues. “Is it real? Is it possible? A place of darkness and nightmares”, was the designer’s brief. The section opens with three monster cross-dressed bunnies, a contortionist and three dancing, and giant gangly geese. It ends with three airborne over-sized ‘ladies’ floating off with balloons.

WOW® goes where you can’t normally see in The Gen-i Creative Excellence Section. It takes you ‘Under the Microscope’ and into the mysterious world of membranes, chromosomes, genomes and bacteria... not forgetting bed bugs. Amidst a floating amoebic garden, the wonders of biology and science parade before the audience.

The American Express Open Section combines the country’s best dancers in a dramatic and evocative performance focusing on the power of colour. For only the second time in the show’s history, the full NZ Ballet Company has joined forces with WOW®. It’s also a collaboration with professional dancers from Footnote Dance and the first-year students from The School of Dance.

Matz Skoog, interim Artistic Director for the RNZB, says the company chose the talented choreographic partnership of Brendan Bradshaw and Cat Eddy to create two works for the WOW® 2011 Award section.

“We're delighted to be collaborating with WOW® again in 2011," says Skoog. “The fusion of New Zealand’s most-loved performance-art teams will make this year's WOW® an un-missable experience.”

Beauty and brawn is on show big time in the World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum’s Man Unleashed Section. The designers’ brief: “The grandeur of the bridal dress creates competition from the groom as you’ve never seen before”. There are peacock feathers, wings, flowers and plastic - all on men, some of them almost naked in a raunchy upbeat take on the Wedding Day. A busload of brides run riot through the auditorium before they create a monster meringue of white ‘puff’ on the stage. They wait expectantly for their groom. One misses out, but the nuptials must go on. Thankfully, the forlorn bride has some eligible (or ineligible) unsuspecting blokes to pick on in the audience of 3500.

Tourism New Zealand’s Avant Garde Section brings a sumptuous, indulgent and majestic feel to a section where designers are driven to be revolutionary, extravagant and extrovert, but still stylish. It begins with a lone choirboy who serenades a child dancer. The auditorium is then filled with the impressive sounds of internationally awarded tenor, Ben Makisi and London-based but Wellington-born, soprano, Aviale Cole. If that’s not enough, the Royal New Zealand ballet are back on stage for their second choreographed piece, especially for WOW®.

And the final act is something completely different for WOW®. In what will be a high-profile year for New Zealand internationally, WOW® celebrates where we’ve been, what we’ve been and who we are in the Air New Zealand Kiwi Icons Section. It’s high energy and quintessentially Kiwi as we take a nostalgic look at the simplicity of ‘New Zild’ back in the ‘50s. There’s a beach, a barbie with real sausies, gumboots and black singlets, even chooks. What’s missing? Sheep. Well, they’re there too, complete with their very own sheepdog.

But wait, there’s more. As the party heats up, legendary musician John Rowles gets the whole auditorium singing an old Kiwi classic. And, a Kiwi Icon section wouldn’t be complete without a ‘real’ Kiwi Icon. Every night of the season, a different national identity will be presented as a ‘surprise’ part of the show. In tonight’s opening show, the first Kiwi icon to make an appearance was Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt.

WOW® founder Suzie Moncreiff says that all seven sections come together this year, to make Wellington’s Brancott Estate WOW® Awards Show another outstanding success.

“With more and more international designers entering each year, combined with an overseas media contingent of more than 100 during the show’s first weekend, the Brancott Estate WOW® Awards Show is continuing to grow in global recognition as the world spectacular in wearable arts,” Moncrieff says.

“It is amazing to think that I held my first show back in 1987 in a tent in Nelson during a torrential rainstorm in 1987,” she says. “Today, with an incredible team behind it, it is regarded as the best WearableArt Show in the world, which as New Zealanders makes us all proud.”

Tomorrow night (Friday 26th August) is the much anticipated awards night, where the top 35 WOW® designers of 2011 will be presented their awards.

The 2011 Brancott Estate WOW® Awards Show runs until Saturday, September 10th at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington. There are still a few coveted tickets available to see this world-renowned show. To purchase go to[]

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