Qi Huan performs in the Royal New Zealand Ballet's Of Days, choreographed by Andrew Simmons. Javier Frutos' Anatomy of a Passing Cloud opens the Royal New Zealand Ballet's triple bill programme Made to Move with costumes of traditional tivaevae pattern and brilliant colour, and a soundtrack complete with static, to recreate a community radio station playing the Yandall Sisters, Cook Island drums, Maori readings from Genesis and other prayers.
There the obvious references to traditional Pacifika and its dance forms ends, replaced by an assault of charged, percussive, angular and athletic movement which is both firmly rooted and upwardly explosive with lifts and propulsions, particularly of the women by the men. And brilliantly, breathtakingly performed.
The work speaks of male bravado, splendidly epitomised by Dimitri Kleioris, but also of the strength of women and of the inevitable ensuing conflict between them.
Second up and in complete contrast is Andrew Simmons' alluring, abstract Of Days, set to the spare and haunting music of Olafur Arnalds, Dustin O'Halloran and Ludvico Einaudi.
Wrapped in gossamer grey leotards, the dancers are sensuously sculpted by Jason Morphett's lighting design.
The choreography is beautiful, rich in pattern, rise and fall, and set with a series of gorgeous cameos on a subtly manipulated stage.
Artistic director Ethan Stieffel has puffed up his Bavarian contribution, Bier Halle, with an enormous set, which seems sparsely populated, and with orchestras in the main centres to provide live Strauss polkas and waltzes. But the work proves to be a disastrous mish-mash of the staidest of balletic convention, ersatz German culture, gymnastics and pure corn.
But while some of us were stunned to uncomfortable silence, the power of the polka was irresistible to many and there was rowdy applause. Go figure.
Where: Aotea Centre, and Wednesday and Thursday at the Bruce Mason CentreBy Bernadette Rae