Dominion Post: Artistic passion touches hearts of appreciative audience (Wellington)

Updated: Mar 23

This article was originally published by the Dominion Post on 17 March 2021. Click here to view the original article.


Lyne Pringle | Mar 17 2021


Transfigured Night, presented by BalletCollective Aotearoa and New Zealand String Quartet, March 15Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, reviewed by Lyne Pringle.



This was the inaugural performance of BalletCollective Aotearoa in Wellington. They join forces with Chamber Music New Zealand to bring the elegance of contemporary classical dance and music to the stage in Transfigured Night.


The New Zealand String Quartet – Helene Pohl, Monique Lapins, Gillian Ansell and Rolf Gjelsten, along with guests Serenity Thurlow and Ken Ichinose – are joined by dancers Laura Saxon Jones, William Fitzgerald and Tabitha Dombroski to transfigure the expectations of the audience.


Artistic director and choreographer Loughlan Prior embraces the challenge of bringing coherency to the programme. The eyes are invited to hear and the ears to see. Frequently the marriage of art forms hits a sweet spot: the quirky and curious interchanges in Tabea Squire’s commissioned work I Danced, Unseen or a staccato section where musicians and dancers move directionally as one in Dvořák’s String Sextet in A major or the sensuous and beautifully crafted interweaving trios in Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht – here the evening lifts off choreographically.


Prior deploys a range of choreographic devices to find a language for each work in the programme. Movement motifs are revisited throughout the evening to provide an overarching structure, yet there is a sense of many choreographic boxes opened all at once rather than drilling into a more selective cache.


In some moments the dancers simply sit and listen. This could occur more frequently, relying on the aural rather than filling the entire evening with choreography, particularly in the third work.


The first two works are abstract, sweet and light with the dancers moving cheekily in, around and at times with the musicians. There is palpable complicité between all performers, they delight in each other and this spills out from the stage. An audience member gasps audibly as Laura Saxon Jones unfurls an exquisite limb.


The third work, Verklärte Nacht, by Schoenberg, is serious in tone and choreographically explores the narrative of the inspiration for the work, Richard Dehmel’s poem of the same name. Red and white silk cloths are used symbolically to signify changes in emotional states as the intensity of relationships between mother, unborn child and lover are explored.


Tabitha Dombroski displays a startling capacity for dramatic intensity and contemporary movement; she is a powerful presence. William Fitzgerald brings his design talent to the set and costumes, as well as solid dance technique. He is crucial to the innovative partner and trio work throughout the evening. Laura Saxon Jones is statuesque and impeccable in her performance and technique. There is gorgeous integrity in her work.


The birth of this new dance company and this musical partnership is cause for celebration. Whilst the intimacy of the work is swamped by the scale of the venue, the artistic passion on stage reaches into the hearts of the audience.


This article was originally published by the Dominion Post. Click here to view the original article.

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