Rachel Grunwell

Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Flirtatious, modern ballet a whirlwind show

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro line-up features a love story with a twist.

Prima ballerina Lucy Green. Photo / Evan Li
Prima ballerina Lucy Green. Photo / Evan Li

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's show Allegro hits Auckland this week, showcasing five very different and dynamic ballets from leading international choreographers.

Dancer Lucy Green - a star on TV3's reality show Secret Lives of Dancers - is the lead in Les Lutins (The Goblins) , which is second in the five-dance line-up.

Green is the only female dancer on stage during this dance, performing with two male dancers.

There's a lot of showmanship by the men during this dynamic, neo-classical nine-minute performance.

In essence, it's a love story and the male dancers fight for Green's attention by doing increasingly daredevil moves.

Meanwhile, Green flirts demurely with both - but the twist at the end will delight the audience.

"The guys get faster and faster and their tricks get crazier and they try to show each other up a little bit which is really exciting to watch for me - and I'm sure for the audience," says Green.

Green laughs when she's asked if looking "smitten" and being flirty is tough to perform.

She says it's second nature "to assume a different character" and "it's kind of fun to be someone that you're not".

There's a move Green does that is particularly fun and flirtatious.

She says although this move looks simple it's often these stylised steps that are the hardest to perfect because they're not classical ballet.

"It's like expecting dancers to be good at dancing in nightclubs.

"I'm really bad at that because I can't let go! Ballet is quite structured and so it can be hard to do moves that are the opposite," she explains.

One of the male dancer's biggest tricks is doing a series of "double tours" - which see him carry out six 360-degree turns in a row, landing three times within this sequence.

One of the men also catches Green mid-flight, but he doesn't get to hold onto her for long ...

The audience will love the dress-ups, too - the trio wear black high-waisted pants, white shirts and black braces, but you'll spot Green because of her red necktie.

The dancing and dress-ups aside, a rare aspect of this performance, choreographed by Johan Kobborg, is that two musicians are on stage with the dancers, having what Green calls "conversations on stage".

Musicians are traditionally heard but not seen and positioned in the music pit.

Wellington-born violinist Benjamin Baker and Tawa-born pianist Michael Pansters perform two challenging works from the violin canon by Wieniawski-Kreisler and Bazzini.

It's Baker's debut with the ballet and he says perfporming with them is simply "a dream come true". He is home just for a short time while studying for his masters on a full scholarship at the Royal College of Music with Professor Felix Andrievsky.

Meanwhile, Les Lutins is among five entirely different ballet works - from classic to contemporary - that will be on show during Allegro and so there will surely be a ballet in the mix to appeal to everyone.

Green will be in four of the five ballets throughout the different performance nights, and says another of her favourites is Allegro Brillante (the first dance), which she describes as "super-fast, super-physical, with a lot of turns and jumps and a lot of the fun stuff!"

Audiences might remember Sydney-born Green, who joined the RNZB in 2010, from leading roles in Giselle and Swan Lake.

Allegro is at Auckland's ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre from July 30-August 2. It's also being performed in Hamilton, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Invercargill and Dunedin. To find dates and locations, visit rnzb.org.nz

- Herald on Sunday

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