What: Dancing with Mozart – Royal New Zealand Ballet
Where: ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre
Marvellous music by Mozart has inspired many choreographers during the centuries, including 20th century ballet masters George Balanchine and Jiri Kylian, and relative newcomer Corey Baker. Their strongly contrasting works sit side-by-side in the Royal NZ Ballet's Dancing with Mozart touring programme.
Russian-American Balanchine is represented by his canonical and technically exacting Divertimento 15 from 1956. Set to Mozart's music of the same name, it echoes the music in step-for-note detail, following its structure of divisions, themes and variations with an ever-changing array of formations which match the changing moods of the music.
Crystal chandeliers hang above the 16 dancers and an azure blue backdrop ensures the detailed decorative toppings of the women's lemon and grey tutus stand out.
Guest dancers Nadia Yanowsky and Veronika Part dance with secure authority, and soloists Kate Kadow, Sara Garbowski and Mayu Tanigaito sparkle in their variations.
Joseph Skelton, Alexandre Ferreira and Wan Bin Yuan provide sound partnering and assured solos also. The corps de ballet perform confidently and with polish and we "see the music dance" as Balanchine intended.
Duncan Grimley's completion of Mozart's famously unfinished Requiem accompanies Kiwi ex-patriate Corey Baker's The Last Dance, mourning the ecological disaster of melting Antarctic ice and rising sea levels, degradation of animal life, and eventual human drowning.
The dancing mostly offers solo moments interspersed with slow writhing, rolling, stuttering and twitching, and a pas de deux in a large box with rising water levels. Though simplistic and scenographically naïve, this iconoclastic work is warmly received.
The slower sections of two Mozart piano concertos are the setting for two sublimely satisfying iconic ballets by Kylian. Petite Mort (Little Death) offers a meditation on orgasm accompanied by fencing foils, black crinolines, flesh-coloured underwear and a huge silk sheet.
The references are metaphorical yet the air is charged with sensuality. Mozart's Deutsche Tanze K571 provides the music for Sechs Tanzes (Six Dances) a suite that is all wit and whimsy, wickedness and flirtation. Both works are superbly delivered by all, with panache and impeccable timing. Even so, Felipe Domingos is outstanding in both works.