Reviews of Graduation Season 2013

Wednesday, 20 Nov 2013 to Saturday, 30 Nov 2013

Excerpts from reviews of the New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season in 2013.


An invitation to experience the work of young dancers at the New Zealand School of Dance revealed rigorous training and a fresh crop of talented, industry-prepared dancers. Alternate casts impressed with their range and flexibility, mature stagecraft and emergent artistry. This was facilitated by the scope and diversity of choreography that was packed into this extremely enjoyable program.

Most importantly, the dancers seemed to be relishing their experience. Amongst the stand-out works was Elie Tass's Ivory. This is a quirky piece for six dancers that makes strong use of sculptural forms, individualistic, spasmodic episodes and an opportunity for the dancers to engage with their wider theatrical skills...

...Dancer, Tynan Wood was showcased in a number of works and showed strong technique and presence. Jeffrey Tan's Façade was especially beautiful and delicate...

...I was impressed by the dynamism and precise technical skills shown in Rise by Jo Funaki. This was accompanied by a wonderful drive and performance quality, displayed by all dancers but the first female soloist was especially captivating in her enactment of the swirling, ballistic choreography. The male dancers were also very powerful and accomplished. Extracts from Rafael Bonachela's The Land of Yes and the Land of No, were also beautifully handled. Ritualised phrases lead into sculpturally evocative duets and a lovely exchange between a girl and boy. 

Indeed, the programming for this season was supremely good, sensitive to the strengths of the dancers and allowing them to experience the range of choreographic demands they will meet as professionals.

Susan Bendall, Dance Australia

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2013's NZSD Graduation Season opened with Rise, a contemporary ballet work by former RNZB dancer Jo Funaki.  A handful of sections were set to music by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber and required the students to hone their musicality, which they did with finesse. Arms were held strongly and fully and legs were quick and precise...

The Land of Yes and the Land of No comes from Sydney Dance Company's Rafael Bonachela, a current sensation in the world of dance. The third year contemporary students do a fine job of tackling the excerpts of this technically demanding work, holding their own with controlled strength…

…Go to witness the next wave of dance talent and a range of work, there's something for everyone.

Jillian Davey, Theatreview

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Students Achieve High Dance Standard

One of the most impressive aspects of this primarily contemporary graduation production was the tight ensemble work. The solo and duet works were also of an excellent standard.

Former Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Jo Funaki's Rise (music, von Biber) is an exhilarating, joyous work full of fluid sweeping movement that requires speed and precision. All the cast rose to the occasion beautifully, with Samantha Vottari particularly impressive.

In contrast, Elie Tass's world premiere Ivory (music, Nico Muhly), is a powerful contemporary work that is a challenge for such young dancers and one they met well. The fractured, disjointed movement focused on the breath, and at times disturbed with its intensity. Katie Rudd gave an impassioned performance.

Val Caniparoli's singular solo, Aria (music, Handel) was danced with finesse and impressive control by Tynan Wood.

Another world premiere was Michael Parmenter's No Lost Islands, to a powerful score by Colin Stetson. It featured 15 male dancers. This unusual work explored movement and stillness, with striking held poses.

The lovely Facade (choreography Jeffrey Tan, music Samuel Barber) was danced superbly and with great maturity by Jarrah McArthur and Tynan Wood.

The cast coped well with Sydney Dance Company artistic director Rafael Bonachela's extracts from the fiendishly difficult to dance The Land of Yes and the Land of No (music, Ezio Bosso).

Also a world premiere, Antony Hamilton's quirky Pattern Study II was assisted by Sarah Foster-Sproull. This choreographic experiment was frantically vocalised by the students with terrific energy. It grew on one.

Finally, there was Kenneth MacMillan's charming Solitaire (music, Malcolm Arnold). First-year dancer Yayoi Matches danced it with delicacy and poise. The New Zealand School of Dance's founding director, the late Sara Neil, danced this work at its London premiere in 1956. So it was a lovely homage to her.

Ann Hunt, The Dominion Post

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