Transfigured Night Tour BalletCollective Aotearoa & Chamber Music NZ
Award-winning choreographer Loughlan Prior creates a new visceral performance work to Schoenberg’s ‘Verklärte Nacht’ – TRANSFIGURED NIGHT. Based on the mystical poem by Richard Dehmel, this chamber concert brings together the New Zealand String Quartet and the BalletCollective Aotearoa in a celebration of new life, the duality of conflict and resolution and, ultimately, reconciliation with the universe. Coupled with Dvořák’s gorgeously Slavonic string sextet and a new commission by Kiwi composer Tabea Squire, this night of sumptuous music and dance will take you on a moving journey of courage, strength and human warmth.
The Performers: Laura Saxon Jones, William Fitzgerald, Tabitha Dombroski
Helene Pohl violin Monique Lapinsviolin Gillian Ansellviola Serenity Thurlowviola Rolf Gjelstencello Ken Ichinosecello
Covid-19 loves to keep us on our toes and we are all gutted that our performances of Subtle Dances at the Bruce Mason theatre on the 5th & 6th March, as part of the Auckland Arts Festival 21, have been postponed.
However we are continuing working in the studio this week so as to be performance-ready for when we can get in front of an audience. We are looking forward to our performance in the Dunedin Arts Festival. Thank you for all your support and watch this space for performance updates..
Ballet - I enjoy the challenges that ballet has put in front of me. The constant changes in my relationship with it, and the ability it has given me to access the extremities of my body. My favourite ballet is "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated" by William Forsythe. Timeless.
Collect(ive) - I'm trying to collect an empathetic mind set. Empathy has allowed me to think more deeply and connect more with others.
Aotearoa - Tairua, I spent much of my childhood here and hold many memories that will never be forgotten.
Home - Greenhithe, Auckland.
Training - I trained at WAAPA, in Perth, Australia. During my time here, a housemate told me about Rambert School in London, U.K. After working in Australia, I decided to further my studies for an additional year of training in London.
Highlights - The opportunity to be performing as we speak. I feel very privileged to be working with a lovely collective of dancers for this project here in New Zealand. Due to COVID19, all live theatre work has ceased to resume in London since March of last year. This is my first time since COVID19 hit that I've had the chance to move, partner, create and be with other dancers in a space together.
Favourite Jam - 'Ungodly Hour' by Chloe x Halle
Photography by Sarah Davies, Sarah Kaye Photography
Ballet - I love ballet because it has to be precise and requires a lot of discipline. My favourite ballet is "La Bayadere" by Rudolph Nureyev.
Collect(ive) - I don't collect anything as such, but I like to collect beautiful memories.
Aotearoa - My favourite place in Aotearoa; I have yet to discover it. There are still a lot of places I haven't been. I'd really like to go to Waiheke Island and Coromandel.
Home - I am from Lamballe, a small city in Brittany in FRANCE!
Training - I trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School from 1996 until 2003. My first ballet teacher thought that I was talented enough to audition for the Paris Opera Ballet School and that I would learn much more in Paris.
Highlights - Dancing my first Principal role in a full length ballet. It was Basilio in Don Quixote. I had just turned 23, and when I took a bow after my first show, I knew that dancing as a Principal was what I wanted to do.
Favourite Jam - I love singing! And strawberry jam.
Meet the BalletCollective Aotearoa's dance physiotherapist, Sophie Ryan, BHSc (Phty), NZRP, Cred. MDT, Nat. Dip. Dance, Pilates Instructor, Certified PBT. Like many of the BCA dancers, Sophie is also a graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance. After performing professionally with Black Grace Dance Company and Spinning Sun, Sophie changed her relationship with dance to a "behind the scenes" role as a physiotherapist, within which she currently treats dance students, dance teachers and professional dancers. She also teaches dance conditioning at NZSD, as well as privately. Sophie is passionate about safe dance practice and loves integrating her knowledge as an ex-professional dancer, dance teacher, musculoskeletal physiotherapist and dance Pilates instructor into her approach within all of her work.
Today we had an open rehearsal as part of the Wellington Performance Arcade event titled What If The City Was A Theatre. Loughlan Prior lead the rehearsal of his latest work Subtle Dances, music by Claire Cowan, to premiere at the Auckland Arts Festival 2021 on the 5 & 6 March and the Dunedin Arts Festival on the 16 April....thank you to the fabulous dancers and Loughlan for his amazing work
The BalletCollective Aotearoa are thrilled to announce that their season of Subtle Dances with works by Cameron McMillan, Loughlan Prior and Sarah Knox and in collaboration with the NZTrio, will be presented by the Auckland Arts Festival on the 5th & 6th of March and in the Dunedin Arts Festival on the 16th April next year.
Both Festivals have been extremely supportive of our project and feel so honoured to be part of their fantastic line up for both Festivals.
We are still needing support to get the works ready for our performances, so please support us through our Boosted Campaign.
Ballet - I love ballet because of the discipline and the constant strive for perfection. It pushes you to the limit physically and mentally; it takes years and years of practice to reach that effortless movement quality and freedom. But mostly I love the people you to meet and the places it takes you.
Collect(ive) - I always end up collecting jars wherever I go. I always fit as much kiwi peanut butter (Pics and Fix n Fogg) as I can into my suitcase. I always get my mum to send me some and when I get visitors they bring me some ha ha! Then I wash and keep the jars to store nuts, seeds and tea!
Aotearoa - My favourite city is Queenstown, for its picture-perfect scenery and all the adrenaline-pumping activities (I've bungy jumped twice!) Another favourite place is Mt Taranaki; it has such a good energy surrounding it. Climbing it is very hard but it's also the most rewarding thing.
Home - I am from New Plymouth, but grew up in Wellington. My maunga is Taranaki and my awa is the Waiwhakaiho.
Training - I started my training at Extreme Dance, and I moved to Paula Hunt (at the age of 10) when I decided to ballet seriously. I was part of the Scholars and Associates programmes at the New Zealand School of Dance, which led me to train there full timed complete my certificate. I finished my training in Germany at the John Cranko School, because I wanted to push myself and to explore the dance world in Europe; that is my dream.
Highlights - My biggest career highlight is having three of my own choreographies performed at the Stuttgart Opera House. I was the first student to have a choreography performed in ten years, and the first student ever to have three!
Favourite Jam - My favourite jam is Black Doris Plum jam! It's soooo good, especially on fresh homemade scones :)
Ballet - My favourite ballet would have to be Don Quixote - performed by American Ballet Theatre. I love ballet because it gives me a way to express myself without words and use movements that are physically and emotionally demanding.
Collect(ive) - I collect playing cards, as it is one of my hobbies to learn cool cards tricks. I also love the intricate design of different playing cards and I love supporting fellow artists (like card designers & illustrators) and their works.
Aotearoa - My favourite place in Aotearoa is the New Zealand School of Dance because that is where I get to study my passion and make friends. It also gives me a place where I feel safe to practise and develop my artistic potential.
Roots - Singapore.
Training - After competing in the AGP (Asian Grand Prix) in 2017 I was offered a place to study at the New Zealand School of Dance full time. I thought that the School would be a great place to aid me in further improving my technique and ballet training. Also I thought that NZ would be a beautiful place to live in. I started training at the New Zealand School of Dance in 2018; I am a classical ballet major.
Highlights - My highlights: I competed in in the AHA (Alana Haines Awards) 2019 and obtained a scholarship to the Huston Ballet Summer School Intensive. I was chosen to perform in the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival in Wellington. I was given the opportunity to perform "Handel - A Celebration" choreographed by Helgitomasson, staged by Betsy Erickson in the 2019 NZSD Graduation Season.
Favourite Jam - Any rap or chill song with a good beat and vibe to jam to.
Ballet - My favourite ballets are ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘In the Middle Somewhat Elevated’.
Collect(ive) - I collect tickets to concerts or festivals I’ve attended because they remind me of good memories.
Aotearoa - My favourite place in Aotearoa is Wellington because it’s where I have all of my closest friends and the opportunity to dance in such amazing environments like the Ballet Collective Aotearoa.
Roots - I grew up in Lismore, Australia.
Training - I trained at Karen Ireland Dance Centre from the age of 4-17. I moved over to Wellington in 2018 upon acceptance into the New Zealand School of Dance. I am currently in my third year at the school now.
Highlights - Some of my dance highlights include having the opportunity to attend the Ballet Cymru summer school in Wales. Performing the allegro soloist in Concerto Barocco in the New Zealand School of Dance graduation season. And now joining the Ballet Collective Aotearoa on internship.
Favourite Jam - I’m not really a jam kind of person but any song by Tame Impala is my jam.
Ballet - My favourite ballet is Carmen! I’m also in love with Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.
Collect(ive) - I didn’t think I was much of a collector but now that I think about it I have loads of baggy merchandise tees from bands that I’ve seen!
Aotearoa - My favourite place in Aotearoa is Wellington because everyone I love and care about lives here.
Home - I grew up the country town of Inverell, Australia, then moved to Sydney in 2015. My family now lives in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland whilst I study here in Wellington.
Training - I first starting dancing at Craze Dance Academy in Inverell. At the age of 14 I left home and moved to Sydney to continue my classical ballet training at The McDonald College. In 2018 I was accepted into the New Zealand School of Dance and decided to make the move overseas. I am currently in my third and final year of study at the New Zealand School of Dance.
Highlights - In 2017 I was lucky enough to perform on stage with The Australian Ballet in their Sydney season of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” as an extra role.
Ballet - My favourite ballet is Don Quixote. It was the first ballet I ever saw and I love the energy and happiness the ballet shows. I love ballet for the discipline and the art form. I love painting a picture with my movement.
Collect(ive) - I collect hobbies! I'm always trying to find something new and fun to experience, ranging from American football to playing the ukulele. Some of my favourite hobbies are: American football, painting, ukulele, kendo, drums, singing, and dancing.
Aotearoa - Any mountain range in the South Island - those are my favourite places in NZ - but The Remarkables mountain range is my absolute favourite. I've made so many memories climbing those mountains and I can't wait to climb them again!
Home - I was born in Invercargill, located at the very bottom of the South Island.
Training - I have been training at the New Zealand School of Dance and am about to complete my third year there.
Highlights - My careers highlights have been dancing with world-famous choreographers, representing NZSD in parliament, and getting the opportunity to dance every day :-)
Favourite Jam - My favourite jam is the homemade grape jelly my Nanna makes from my family's grapevine. It's the best jam I've had!
My favourite music jam is mxmtoon's Fever Dream ft. Shawn Wasabi; always makes me happy and it's always stuck in my head!
Ballet - I love ballet because of the constant strive for perfectionism that never comes. It is an evolving art form that connects athleticism and artistic expression. It ticks all the boxes for me.
My favourite ballet is Swan Lake.
Collect(ive) - I don't really actively collect anything but I have noticed that all the shoes I own sparkle. So I guess I'm attracted to shiny shoes - maybe that's the ballerina in me? Or maybe I just like sparkle.
Aotearoa - My favourite place in Aotearoa is Wanaka.
Roots - Auckland, North Shore.
Training - I trained at North Shore Ballet Academy, International Ballet Academy and the New Zealand School of Dance.
Highlights - Any one of those fabulous moments performing when time stands still and I am just being; coexisting with the audience and colleagues in something that is so special and will never be recreated.
Favourite Jam - I prefer chutneys!
Music jam? Anything upbeat or that places me in a good mood with interesting lyrics, and I try to stay away from mainstream stuff.
Photography: Sarah Davies, Sarah Kaye Photography (images 1, 2, 3 & 6) Celia Walmsley, Stagebox Photography (images 4 & 5)
Ballet -I love ballet because it teaches you discipline and has given me an incredible foundation of movement and mind body connection. The athleticism and artistry which comes with it has shaped who I am as a dancer, no matter which style or creative direction I take.
My favourite ballet would have to be “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.” I remember first seeing this when I was at NZSD and it literally had me in a state of absolute wonder and amazement. I am really drawn to highly physical work and this piece demonstrated exactly that.
Collect(ive) - I collect workout routines because I have a low key addiction to the gym. I also unfortunately collect all my receipts which drives my friends crazy when they see my wallet being overflown with paper!
Aotearoa - Definitely would have to be where I am from, Waiheke island. As I was born and grew up there and it holds such a special place in my heart. My parents still live there and it fills me with so much indescribable joy every time I step foot on the island. The community there is and has been so supportive of me and it feels like a huge family.
Home - I am from Waiheke Island, just outside of Auckland City.
Training - I trained at RMDA and Devonport School of Dance while growing up, and then when I was 16 I moved to Sydney Australia to study full time ballet at Alegria Dance Studios. At 18 I moved back to NZ to study at the New Zealand School of Dance as a Contemporary major where I graduated with a Diploma in Dance Performance.
Highlights - In my third year at NZSD I travelled to NYC and Shanghai to be a part of the Metamorphosis International residency led by Iratxe Ansa and Igor Bacovich. This was such an incredible eye-opener to a really intensive method which has literally changed my approach to dance and how I move.
After graduating from NZSD I performed in the Rambert Dance Company Installation in London and this was super inspiring as it is one of my dream companies to be in.
My most recent highlight is creating my first full length choreographic work, Utopia #9 which I developed at Wellesley Studios and premiered at Tempo Dance Festival. This gave me the opportunity to collaborate with my closest friends, explore my creative visions and compose a full music score to accompany it.
Favourite Jam - Strawberry! And it is so good when spread on top of peanut butter!
And music Jam? Well I am definitely a crazy Lana Del Rey fan so pretty much anything she makes I will listen to on repeat for the rest of eternity.
Ballet - I love ballet because it enables communities to be brought together to experience art and be exposed to entertaining narratives, as well as thought-provoking abstract ideas all through the capitalisation of movement of the body, and music.
My favourite ballet is Chroma by Wayne McGregor. It's such a physical, athletic ballet, but also can be interpreted many different ways with its exploration of ideas.
Collect(ive) - I love collecting rings with semi-precious stones in them that I usually buy from markets. I really enjoy markets so they remind me of a good day and they're also beautiful.
Aotearoa - My favourite place in Aotearoa is definitely Wellington. It's such a great city with a mixture of a forward-focussed arts scene, a strong financial district, a lot of university students and families (which keeps the place lively), nature areas, and a free spirit which values self-expression.
Home - I was born and raised in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, but I consider Wellington to be my second home.
Training - I trained at The Conlan College in Sydney in their full-time programme for three years, before moving to New York City at age 16 to train at American Ballet Theatre's JKO school for a year. After that I trained at the New Zealand School of Dance, where I graduated in 2019.
Highlights - I performed at American Ballet Theatre's Fall Gala in 2016 at the David H. Koch Theatre in Lincoln Centre, NYC. I also performed one of the solos in Stanton Welch's The Ladies at Houston Ballet's Summer Intensive in 2017, however, as Homemade Jam is my first professional gig being a part of Ballet Collective Aotearoa is definitely my career highlight.
Favourite Jam - Any jam from Ricardo's Tomatoes. It's a tomato and strawberry farm just outside of Port Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia where my family go all the time for summer holidays. They make all their own jams.
Ballet - I really love ballet because of its aesthetic sensibility, accompanied by the practice and discipline, which I believe make really strong and diverse dancers. This particularly excites me when it is coupled with other disciplines and practices. I really love Ekman’s work, particularly “Play” I feel he has a great scope of the direction classical ballet can be pushed in to keep it relevant to new generations of audiences. I am also a big fan of Loughlan Prior’s Hansel & Gretel, I love the way he brought camp to audiences in New Zealand.
Collect(ive) - I wish I could collect art, but I really don’t have the wall space for it now.
Aotearoa - I love the severe and breath-taking beauty of nature. I honestly couldn’t tell you where my favourite place is though, there are so many fantastic and beautiful places. All for utterly different reasons. I am very grateful and feel at home in Wellington.
Home - Kia ora, my name is Bjorn Aslund. I was born in Karlstad Sweden and raised in Northland New Zealand. My heritage is Malaysian Chinese and Swedish Norwegian, with a bunch of Scottish and English thrown in. I feel like I could come from anywhere.
Training - I started training with Elizabeth Russell at the Northern Dance Academy when I was 9. In 2016 auditioned and was successful in my application the New Zealand School of Dance where I spent the ensuing three years training to attain a Diploma in Dance Performance. I chose to train at the school because I believed it would teach me how to be a better dancer, and along the way I figured out how to be.
Highlights - My career highlights so far have been working on a development with Legs on the Wall, and being able to further develop my work “Plato’s Atlantis” for the 2020 fringe festival show “ Situations in Play”. These have both been eye-opening experiences and have allowed me to further my practice as a performer and person. It has been fantastic to be able to explore aspects of myself in my work and express that.
Favourite Jam - I am hanging out for LG6 to be released and I am really vibing the Blade Runner soundtrack at the moment.
Ballet - There’s something truly amazing about performing on stage, after each performance I still keep being inspired, if that’s performing myself or watching a performance. As a boy my mother would take me to see musicals and stage shows in Sydney, after being inspired from them I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
My favourite ballet would have to be Petite Mort by Jiri Kylian
Collect(ive) - At the moment I’ve started a collection of vinyls, I love nostalgic music even before my time.
Aotearoa - I love living in Wellington but my favourite place would have to be the Coromandel. If you love beaches it’s a must for summer time; grab a kayak and venture into the caves, it’s a beautiful experience.
Home - I grew up in Newcastle, Australia.
Training - I started learning ballet at Newcastle Dance Academy and then moved to Wellington to train at the New Zealand School of Dance.
Highlights - I danced Lead Male in Round of Angels which is a ballet choreographed by Gerald Arpino and I performed this at the New Zealand School of Dance 2019 Graduation Season. It was one of the most amazing pas de deux pieces I have ever danced.
Ballet Collective Aotearoa is my first step on my professional journey and I’m excited for what’s in store!
Favourite Jam - Space Jam ..... Looney Tunes is my favourite. Anything from Bobby Darin or a good Bebop album, now that’s my jam.
Ballet -My favourite ballet is After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon. This 9-minute piece was chosen to be a part of the New Zealand School of Dance Graduation season 2018, where I first saw it. The music instantly drew me into the world of the two lone dancers on stage. I love the integration of technical movement alongside more experimental contemporary ballet to portray this sombre story. To me it was about mutual loss and grief, yet instead of falling into the sadness, the couple instead find a strength in each other. It was a piece like I’ve never seen.
Collect(ive) - When I was a child, I used to collect coins and notes. Living in Dubai with my family I was very fortunate to have visited some amazing countries. My father also used to travel a lot for work and he (as well as other family members and friends) would bring me back coins from his travels. Some of the countries include France, Jordan, the USA, Norway, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand. I love thinking about the journey of how the money has travelled from person to person. More recently, I have taken an interest in collecting old books, especially those centred around education and dance. I love to read and observe how language was used in the past and how world views have changed since the book was published.
Aotearoa - Whakapapa Village in the north island. With a quick trip up to Mt Ruapehu and a view of Mt Ngauruhoe, it is easily Number 1 on my list. Going on treks around the outskirts of the village, the breathtaking views of green, grey and red natural terrain left me speechless and immensely grateful to call this beautiful country my home. Untouched nature definitely has a special energy; an almost transcendant aura about it, and I love being able to feel this around me. The rocks, flowers and rivers of Whakapapa were a big photographical inspiration to me, documenting the beauty of such a place. Many of the photos I took hang in my room and are included in my online photography portfolio.
Home - I was born here in NZ, but moved to Dubai when I was 7 to be closer to my dad who was working in the military at the time. I spent almost 11 years there, finishing my school certificate. I moved back to NZ to Kapiti, before moving to central Wellington to study. I feel lucky to call two countries home, and for all the opportunities and experiences the Middle East gave me, but I am happy to be back in NZ, living in the amazing city of Wellington!
Training - I trained at the New Zealand School of Dance as a contemporary major, graduating in 2019. I worked a lot with the media department during my time there, and have always had a passion for photography that I pursued alongside my time at the school. I consider myself self-taught, but I did learn the basics through some community taught classes and back in high school art. I’m looking to expand my knowledge and experience in the field.
Highlights - My career in photography has only just begun, so I would have to say working here at the Ballet Collective Aotearoa! The people are incredible, the creativity is high and the energy is exuberant.
Favourite Jam - My favourite jam would definitely be “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. It’s a classic, and forever my favourite jam to dance to.
Our first week in the studio has flown by! A big thank you to our wonderful Ballet Collective Aotearoa choreographers; Sarah Knox, Cameron McMillan, and Loughlan Prior who have given us such inspiring tasks and movement vocabularies.
Thanks also to resident photographer Sarah Davies and to L.O.D studios for giving us studio space to start cooking our Homemade Jam.
Here are a collection of our favourite images from Week 1!