Tutus on Tour – Royal New Zealand Ballet – Tauranga – 21.03.2021
The Royal New Zealand Ballet have opened their 2021 season with a very ambitious tour spanning 16 towns across both islands in New Zealand. All of the places on the tour are ones that the rest of the RNZB season don’t come to, making sure that wherever you are in New Zealand, you should be able to come watch the ballet at least once a year, which I think is a brilliant way to try and include and introduce ballet to as many people as possible.
After Covid struck again and everyone bar Auckland went to Level 2 restrictions, the tour was postponed slightly but very luckily, RNZB were able to still perform in Tauranga, only a little later than planned.
To give a broad taster of what ballet is, and can be, there were five pieces performed by a group of dancers, spreading from deep in the past to very recent. For me every piece was better than the one before. It began with the Pas de Quatre by Jules Perrot, who was the original choreographer for Giselle at the Paris Opera (funnily enough the next ballet that RNZB are putting on this year is Giselle), as the name says it is four ballerinas, dancing together at the beginning and the end, and each getting their moment in the spotlight in between, especially for all the youngsters in the audience, it personifies what ballet was originally, and still can be, classical yet timeless.
Ultra Folly was created in 2020 and was originally going to be produced then, however with the pandemic, it wasn’t possible so it became part of this programme. The piece is influenced by a very old musical theme, La Folia, which can be traced all the way back to the 1490’s. The piece is very latin in its influence and is perfect for what today is like in the world, as it is very much all about ‘the tensions between limited touch and full contact partnering’ as choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull describes it.
From peak-modern the pieces go to romantic classic with the Romeo and Juliet pas de deux and the White Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake. These two were stunning pieces with the most beautiful costumes and the reaction from the audience, especially the really young ones who were dressed up was really joyous to see. The Romeo and Juliet piece in particular, because it’s not the standard way of presenting it (this is from a chamber version of the ballet) it brings a different perspective and was exquisitley choregraphed with an intimacy and abandone that isn’t there with many other productions.
The last piece, Within Without, originiating in Los Angeles in 2019 is described as being about the struggle of infertility on couples and both the pain and the love that unites them. To be honest, when watching the piece, I didn’t really see a story there, to me it was much more abstract, and a brilliant showcase for the dancers getting to really shine, I did love the piece, but if I hadn’t read the description beforehand, I wouldn’t have known there was a story there. The music was very emotive and different to what you would usually hear in a ballet, the choreography worked beautifully with it and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was one of my favourites.
Tutus on Tour is very much a celebration of ballet, showcasing everything that the art form can do from its earliest origins to its possible future and RNZB are to be congratulated on creating a really diverse and exciting programme. The dancers were all brilliant, and, having to perform multiple pieces in only an hour and a half show is very impressive, and Levi Teachout danced three pieces so special shoutout to him for doing all three masterfully! This was a great way to start the 2021 season and I can’t wait for the rest.