Theatre Review: Unique piece of theatre and a privilege to see (Wellington)

Updated: Mar 23

This article was originally published by Theatre Review on 15 March 2021. Click here to view the original article.


Greer Robertson | 15 March 2021


For all of my life when attending orchestral performances, I have wished that music could be visually amplified with movement. Absorbing the sound, I would close my eyes allowing myself to create my own dance imagery.


Now happily, with eyes wide open, I can report that a 'meeting of many magical minds' delivers a splendiferous evening appealing to many senses. Definitely, a unique piece of theatre and a privilege to see.


But, upon entering the huge auditorium, I am perplexed at the choice of venue. Is the Michael Fowler Centre too grand to house the intimate connection that I crave from a live performance with such few performing numbers? The sheer venue size coupled with an oddly-shaped tie-dyed large tipi on the naked stage swamps my visuals. I’m confused.

I breathe and allow the artists, one by one to claim their space.


The performers are dancers Laura Saxon Jones, William Fitzgerald and Tabitha Dombrovski from the recently formed new project-based contemporary ballet company BalletCollective Aotearoa. Artistic direction and choreography for Transfigured Night is by Loughlan Prior with Helene Pohl and Monique Lapins on violin, Gillian Ansell and Serenity Thurlow on viola and Rolf Gjelstein, Ken Ichinose on cello as the New Zealand String Quartet.


I’m not disappointed. With each note, each move they exemplify their expertly-honed and adored artform as superbly talented proven professionals.


I Danced, Unseen by composer Tabea Squire has an innocence about it, allowing all the performers to explore with personality, their playful interpretations. Intricate, superbly- timed notes either with musical instruments or with dancers using their bodies as their entire instrument, cohesively marry. Cleverly and expressively the shapes mimic the sounds.


In the second piece, Dvořák’s String Sextet in A major, the artists play vigorously, gliding and sweeping with skips and leaps, with just a hint of Slavonic humour and spice.


Perhaps the overly-complicated, yet too relaxed muslin tie-dyed costuming can be re-invented? These and the tipi I find jarring and distracting.


An Interval follows where a buoyant, bubbly atmosphere of excitedness fills the air from the expressively vocal audience. They are artistically fulfilled and well-pleased. I am too but still wish for a smaller more intimate venue for greater emotional connectivity.


We settle back into the much-awaited Verklärte Nacht by Schoenberg. The dancers are sleek in formal black costumes. The tone is soulful and sober. There is a different richness in this piece. Prior, boldly yet intricately consummately plays with solos, duets and trios. It’s not overworked. With rhythmic repetition the music, the musicians and dancers are one.


It stops. It’s over. Rapturous applause. A world class artistic vignette of the highest order.


This article was originally published by Theatre Review on 15 March 2021. Click here to view the original article.

The New Zealand String Quartet gratefully acknowledges its sponsors and funders

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New Zealand String Quartet

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