Excerpts from reviews of the New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season in 2015.
The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) continues to impress with the strength and versatility of its students in this season of dance designed to both challenge and display. While classical and contemporary dance are given equal prominence, two key works from the classical canon bookend the diverse program, beginning with the Grand Pas from 'Paquita'.
... As always with NZSD, the contemporary works were freshly innovative and performed with passion and great technical skill. NZSD graduate Sarah Foster-Sproull’s 'Forgotten Things', choreographed in collaboration with the second and third year students, explores metamorphosis, embodying the idea of the dancers together as one cell “with many identities,” which then fragments, and re-assembles itself. The exposed limbs of the dancers (otherwise all in black) are the focus, as, with clever lighting, the arrangement of hands and lower legs to collectively form different shapes is highlighted, showing quite breath-taking inventiveness. The detail and athleticism of the movement and the conviction and zeal with which it was performed made this work compelling.
Denise Richardson, Dance Australia
A masterful Graduation Season at the New Zealand School of Dance, with two world premières
The New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season performances, which began tonight (Wednesday), are always a highlight. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work from second- and third-year students, and the six performances this year offer a very entertaining mix, especially for lovers of classical ballet.
...'Paquita', the grand-pas, kicked off the evening, choreographed by Anna-Marie Holmes after Marius Petipa. The students showed immense promise, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see many of them dance professionally in ballet before long. Yayoi Matches, in the title role, and Yuri Marques da Silva, who hails from Brazil, danced the role of Lucien, increasingly captivated us during the performance. The costumes were hand-made by Donna Jefferis, assisted by the students of the Diploma of Costume Construction at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School...
Jack Yan, Lucire
The programme consists of six items whose three classical and three contemporary works alternate. The classical contributions comprise two group works - 'Paquita' (1847), adapted by Anna-Marie Holmes after Marius Petipa, and Sir Kenneth MacMillan's 'Concerto' (1996), re-staged on the students by Lynn Wallis. The third classical piece is a George Balanchine duet, 'Tarantella' (1964), taught by Diana White.
...The three contemporary works in the programme - Sarah Foster-Sproull's 'Forgotten Things'; 'Cnoditions of Entry', choreographed by Thomas Bradley and the dancers; 'As It Fades' (Excerpts) by Kuik Swee Boon - are incredible. Each piece showcases and challenges the students at a choreographic standard seen in professional companies.
Chris Jannides, Theatreview
...This program offers challenges to the students, and opportunities to be savoured by the audience. The fact that your favourites will be different from mine is the rich treasure that the musical and non-verbal nature of dancing invites. It matters not whether old or new, borrowed or blue, ballet or contemporary dance. What matters is that it be good, and that choreographers and dancers know what to do with their music. All encouragement to the students as they make their way into careers in dance.
Jennifer Shennan, Michelle Potter On Dancing
Top Dancers Graduate
The much anticipated Graduation Season of the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) is, as always, thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly professional. The high standard of tutoring from New Zealand and international teachers ensures the third year students are employment-ready immediately after Graduation…
...This eclectic and thought provoking evening lived up to the increasingly high standards set by the NZSD and its enthusiastic supporters. Roll on 2016’s Graduation!
Ann Hunt, Kapiti Independent
...Closing the show is Shostokovich's 'Concerto'. Another touchstone work and a great opportunity for these young dancers to test their mettle. It is lovely to see two ballet works, 'Paquita' and 'Concerto', with real challenges for a large graduating cast. The dancers acquit themselves well with the intricacies and dynamics needed. Wonderful to have live music with two pianos played by Philip O'Malley and Craig Newsome. Here the Second Movement pas de deux sees outstanding performances by Lola Howard and Jerry Wan. These two young dancers have that technical surety and effortless magic and musicality that transports us from our mundane realities to an aesthetic and impossible world.
Strong production values are there all the way in lighting and costuming.
Congratulations to the staff, teachers and rehearsal directors on a real graduation gala - strong students, and their passion and committment really shows. Best wishes to you all as you step out now into the very challenging world of a profession that is unique, hard and very special - hold onto that passion. Dance well.
Deirdre Tarrant, Theatreview