Snow White delights young and old

 I didn’t make it to opening night of Snow White so I missed Nicole Ferreira-Dill in the title role and Kitty Phetla as the evil Queen in Joburg Ballet’s new production choreographed by Iain MacDonald.  Monike Cristina was Snow White, while the Royal Huntsman was Revil Yon. Monike Cristina is a black dancer, and it took thirty or so seconds for me to adjust to a black Snow White.  Then all of a sudden it was irrelevant.  Revil Yon is the new dancer from Cape Town and I watched him with interest.  It was, however, Claudia Monja as the evil Queen who stole the show at the performance I watched.  Monja has come a long way with Joburg Ballet in the past few years.  She is a skilled character actress and her lovely warmth as a performer has earned her many fans.  In the role of the evil Queen she has taken the opportunity to reveal her inner bitch (or maybe just to create an inner bitch) and the audience buys in to her nasty jealousy without any difficulty.  Monja, for the record, also has a great pair of legs (for those who notice these things).

Joburg Ballet_Revil Yon & Monike Cristina in Snow White_1_Photo Lauge Sorensen

Monike Cristie and Revil Yon in Snow White

MacDonald has kept to the original story without any deviation, making it easy for even the littlest audience members of the audience to access the ballet as a story they already know and love.  My favourite scenes were those with the Forest People and their delightful character antics.  The audience had no trouble identifying Clumsy, Casanova, Coach, Cough, Coma, Cantankerous and Cuddles.  I enjoyed the interaction of these characters, both with one another and with Snow White herself.

There is a dark aspect to the ballet, especially at the end where the “aging” Queen (in reality she would have been a relatively young woman) chooses death rather than not be the most beautiful woman in the kingdom anymore.  I think this may be lost on the little ones, but it is certainly an opportunity for parents to discuss body/beauty/aging issues with their older children.

I loved the music of Shostakovich, especially in the eerie forest scene.  It was, of course, always a pleasure to recognize bits and pieces from Shostakovich’s more well-known works when they popped up.

The ballet is not costume heavy, making use of only one or two costumes per dancer.  All the costumes were new for this ballet, and cleverly designed so that they are sufficiently neutral to be used to good effect in almost any other classical ballet staged by Joburg Ballet.

The sets were by Andrew Botha.  The baroque feel to the palace and the traditional ballroom scene were slightly disturbed by some animation going on in the background.  Despite this, the ballroom choreography is very traditional and it was a delight to see the dancers and soloists of the company. Altogether the ballet, the sets and the animation created a very “busy” feel to the ballet, and the dancing was sometimes lost in the animation effects.  I felt strongly that less would have been better in this regard, and that the mirror should have been more mirror like with less pyrotechnic effects surrounding it.  However, there were also some lovely effects as part of this, one of which was the abandonment of Snow White into the dark forest with its ominous shadows, as the scenes move through menacing trees, desolate gravestones and the foreboding gallows.  One can only empathise with the terrified Snow White. The sheer frenetic feel I disliked elsewhere reached an appropriate fever pitch in this scene.

Over all, the new ballet is a lot of fun, especially for families and as it goes on to new seasons in the future, I am sure it will become a much loved staple in the repertoire of Joburg Ballet.

On Wednesday 18 October from 19:30 there will be the annual fundraising gala, Night of the Stars, where Shannon Glover and Revil Yon will dance the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet with Monike Cristina and Ivan Domiciano dancing the pas de deux from Don Quixote.  The company will dance the Grand Waltz from Snow White.  Timothy Moloi, Samantha Peo and others will perform vocal items. Tickets for this are R500 each and include canapes and desserts, although there are some tickets for R100 now available. I encourage people to book for what promises to be a wonderful evening.

Joburg Ballet offers a range of very affordable ticket options for Snow White – The Ballet, including half price on opening night, budget priced morning matinees at 11:00 when every seat is just R80, and discounts for pensioners and groups.

SNOW WHITE – THE BALLET: BOOKING INFORMATION

Dates, Times, Prices:

  • Fri 20 Oct, Sat 21 Oct at 19:30 & Sat 14 Oct, Sun 15 Oct, Sat 21 Oct, Sun 22 Oct at 15:00 – Standard Prices: R180, R250, R340, R390, R450
  • Tue 17 October & Wed 18 October at 11:00 – All tickets R80

Where: Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein (GPS -26.191316, 28.038519)

Book now: At Joburg Theatre Box Office; or tel. 0861 670 670; or online at www.joburgtheatre.com

or www.webtickets.co.za

Patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick n Pay stores (full list at www.webtickets.co.za/pnpoutlets.aspx)

Keep up to date with the company on their social media platforms; Facebook.com/joburgballet, Instagram.com/joburgballet, @JoburgBallet or online at www.joburgballet.com

 

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Thoughts of Fear and Doubt

You need no history, theology or advanced philosophy to understand Couplet.  Even children can access it.  However …

During the 15th century amidst the recurrent bouts of Black Plague, the worlds of the church and the theatre colluded to develop a theatrical style known as “morality theatre”.  These were basically and stereotypically sermons dramatized through allegory.  The usual theme was Mankind setting out on a Bunyon-like pilgrimage where he would encounter both vices and virtues.  However stereotypical the subject matter may have been, they were aimed at an educated, middle-class audience, who were already moving towards secularisation.  They formed the link between the medieval world of church cycle plays and the Reformation theatre of the likes of William Shakespeare.

Couplet 1

Michelle Douglas and Julie-Ann McDowell in Couplet

Couplet is a play by Michelle Douglas, edited and directed by Stephen Feinstein, at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in Sandton.  It is created in the form of a morality play, tempered by later styles of entertainment including vaudeville, music, magical realism, puppetry, masks, fantasy and even circus performance as the work winds its way through the tale narrated by Michelle Douglas and Julie-Anne McDowell. It is essentially almost timeless in its setting, and it certainly defies easy placement into an historical context.  This mix of genres and theatrical devices makes it a busy piece which is a visual spectacle of delight.

As the title suggests, Couplet is based on the iambic pentameter most of us learned about in English literature classes as school.  Basically five sets of unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllables that typically rhyme.  Each couplet makes up a complete thought.  (If you have forgotten this, don’t  feel lonely, I had to look it up).

The premise is that Fear and Doubt are the two characters.  They have, like unwise parasites, killed their previous host, and they are now homeless and looking for their next “victim”.  Their recollection of past hosts is told in sections, with back and forth movement through the stories, in a conversational style rather than an accurate narrative.

The play is suitable for older children, probably those of middle school going age (Grade 4 and up), and although some of the detail may be lost on them there is more than enough in the fable like stories for them to latch onto and interpret for themselves. There is none of the bawdiness of Chaucer, nor even of Shakespeare and one would be able to present it as a contemporary sermon in the most conservative of contemporary places of worship. Couplet comes into its own as theatre for adults, though, and the caveat is that there is no happy ending of this play.  It simply disappears back into the timelessness in which it is created.

The work is beautifully created, using props by Lien van der Linde and Christelle van Graan (puppets and masks) and costumes by Sandy Muller to great effect as the whiney duo present the list of their successes, and at the end – in a delightful reference to Joan of Arc, their failures.  The overall design is by Feinstein with Oliver Hauser doing the lighting and Rob Joseph created the set.  Jahn Beukes was responsible for the tuneful and memorable music.

I encourage everyone to see this wonderful, cutting edge, theatrical work.  It is a most interesting theatrical experience and it will leave you with a lot of food for thought.

“We’re presently homeless with nowhere to reside;

All the headspace has been taken with other thoughts inside …

Board and lodging’s scarce – we ask space for only two:

A room with a lavatory, doesn’t need a view …

We’re really not that fussy – we’re just 2 homeless thoughts

Looking for some space to live before we come to naught.

Couplet runs at the Auto and General Theatre on the Square, West Street, Sandton, until 28 October.  Call 011 883-8606 or visit http://www.theatreonthesquare.co.za.

 

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Snow White – the Ballet

Snow White is the 1812 (revised in 1854) retelling of an old German fairytale by the Brothers Grimm where a young princess is so beautiful that her evil and jealous stepmother, the Queen, decides to kill her.  However, Snow White’s purity and beauty (inside and outside), protect her and good overcomes evil.  It was however, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 1937 movie which made the tale as we know it today so popular.

Joburg Ballet_Nicole Ferreira-Dill as Snow White_Photo Lauge Sorensen_Med Res

Joburg Ballet’s Nicole Ferreira-Dill in Snow White

Joburg Ballet’s artistic director, Iain MacDonald, always challenged by the huge costs of rights for the more modern ballets, has now choreographed his second ballet, Snow White – The Ballet, to a montage of music by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975).  While Shostakovich wrote three ballets, only music for one, The Bolt, appears in this production together with the Ballet Suites, bits from the Second Piano Concerto in F Major and other incidental music by the 20th Century Russian composer whose works are so ideally suited to the creation of a lyrical ballet.

Joburg Ballet_Nicole Ferreira-Dill as Snow White_Photo Lauge Sorensen

Nicole Ferreira-Dill as Snow White for Joburg Ballet

MacDonald says that he learned many lessons from his first attempt at the choreography of a full length ballet, Cinderella, and that he came to Snow White with a much greater understanding of the task, and a much better schedule of preparation.

Joburg Ballet_Nicole Ferreira-Dill & Leusson Muniz in Snow White_Photo Lauge Sorensen_med res 2

Nicole Ferreira=Dill with Leusson

The “seven dwarfs” of the 1937 Disney version were named “Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, and Dopey”.  However, each version that is released by anyone other than Disney has their own names for these seven mining housemates.  The Brothers Grimm original doesn’t name them.    MacDonald, however, has named them alliteratively as Clumsy, Casanova, Coach, Cough, Coma, Cantankerous and Cuddles. To add to the mix, the term “dwarf” is now apparently no longer politically correct.  This is reflected in the simple name for this new ballet which stops at “Snow White – The Ballet”.

Joburg Ballet’s gorgeous senior soloist, Nicole Ferreira-Dill, will dance the title role on opening night, Friday 13 October 2017.  It is easy to believe that the mirror finds her the most beautiful woman in the land.  I do too.

Ferreira-Dill began training as a ballet dancer at the age of five, and she attended the Pro Arte Alphen Park School where she also trained in jazz, Spanish and contemporary dance.

Her skill in ballet dancing has seen her travel to Europe to dance there, both as a competitor in dance competitions and as a performer.

I was privileged to meet with both Ferreira-Dill and with MacDonald before the opening of Snow White – the Ballet, and both were passionate and enthusiastic about the ballet itself, as well as demonstrating their obvious love of ballet as a dance form and Joburg Ballet as a dance company.

Interestingly, Ferreira-Dill seldom gets cast as the bad character in a ballet, although she has danced the harsh and unforgiving Queen of the Willis in Giselle.  Principal dancer Shannon Glover will dance both the evil Queen and the innocent Snow White during the run of this production, but Ferreira-Dill will only dance the title role.

The sets are once again by veteran designer, Andrew Botha, who has had an illustrious career bringing various productions to life on stage.  He is no newcomer to the work of the Joburg Ballet Theatre and I am looking forward to seeing how he creates the palace, the mirror, the eerie forest, the home of the seven minors and the mine in which they work.  MacDonald is enthusiastic about the mine scene while Ferreira-Dill is most enthusiastic about the forest scene.

MacDonald and I discuss the difficulties of finding dancers in South Africa.  It is well nigh impossible and he and CEO Esther Nasser recently travelled to South America where they appointed four Brazilian dancers to Joburg Ballet.  Ana Cristina Cruz, Bruno Rafael Miranda, Armando Barros and Leusson Muniz will be performing in Snow White – the Ballet.

Additionally Revil Yon from Cape Town City Ballet joined Joburg Ballet just before the previous season of Big City, Big Dreams.

On opening night Nicole Ferreira-Dill will dance the role of Snow White with Leusson Muniz as the Royal Huntsman.  Kitty Phetla will dance the role of the evil Queen.  Casting, as always, is subject to change.

Talking about his new production, MacDonald said: “Snow White is a perfect fairytale to be adapted into a classical ballet, a story with romance, comedy and drama in equal measure and wonderful opportunities to showcase our dancers in both classical and character roles.”

MacDonald and I also discuss Kaya FM as the media partner for Joburg Ballet’s Snow White – the Ballet, a rather surprising choice.  MacDonald points out that Kaya FM approached Joburg Ballet on this one, not the other way round.  It is a sign of the changing interests of the country at this time in our history.

On Wednesday 18 October from 19:30 there will be the annual fundraising gala, Night of the Stars, where Shannon Glover and Revil Yon will dance the balcony pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet with Monike Cristina and Ivan Domiciano dancing the pas de deux from Don Quixote.  The company will dance the Grand Waltz from Snow White.  Tickets for this are R500 each and include canapes and desserts.  Samantha Peo and Timothy Moloi will be vocal soloists for this performance.

Samantha Peo

The lovely and talented Samantha Peo will sing at the Gala Fundraising Performance on 18 October 2017

Joburg Ballet offers a range of very affordable ticket options for Snow White – The Ballet, including half price on opening night, budget priced morning matinees at 11:00 when every seat is just R80, and discounts for pensioners and groups. The company also has a Saturday Night Special for the performance on Saturday, 14 October at 19:30, with 20% off all seats.

SNOW WHITE – THE BALLET: BOOKING INFORMATION

 Dates, Times, Prices:

  • Fri 13 Oct at 19:30 – Half Price: R90, R125, R170, R195, R225
  • Sat 14 Oct, Fri 20 Oct, Sat 21 Oct at 19:30 & Sat 14 Oct, Sun 15 Oct, Sat 21 Oct, Sun 22 Oct at 15:00 – Standard Prices: R180, R250, R340, R390, R450
  • Tue 17 October & Wed 18 October at 11:00 – All tickets R80

 

Where: Joburg Theatre, Braamfontein (GPS -26.191316, 28.038519)

Book now: At Joburg Theatre Box Office; or tel. 0861 670 670; or online at www.joburgtheatre.com

or www.webtickets.co.za

Patrons can also book and pay via the Nedbank app and at selected Pick n Pay stores (full list at www.webtickets.co.za/pnpoutlets.aspx)

Keep up to date with the company on their social media platforms; Facebook.com/joburgballet, Instagram.com/joburgballet, @JoburgBallet or online at www.joburgballet.com

Posted in Ballet, Children's Theatre, Dance, Music, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Andre Rieu’s 2017 Maastricht Concert

 

The record-breaking André Rieu’s 2017 Maastricht Concert Exclusive at Ster-Kinekor Cinemas: 21 & 22 October 2017 

Violinist’s annual Maastricht Concert holds the record as number 1 event music concert of all time.  

Andre Rieu 4

Andre Rieu

Coincides with André’ Rieu’s 30th Year Performance with His Johann Strauss Orchestra. 

 Andre Rieu 2

Celebrating his 30th year at the forefront of popular music, Dutch violinist André Rieu, performed with his Johann Strauss Orchestra in the Maastricht, Netherlands. The beautiful program this year features old and new friends; and of course, a special guest: David Hasselhoff!

Known for his energetic and spell-binding live performances, as well as amassing over 40 million album and DVD sales worldwide, and now the world’s leading pop classical artist, Rieu has been consistent in giving a world-class performance in his hometown annually.

Andre Rieu 1

The Dutch violinist is one of the world’s highest-grossing touring artists, and every year performs a very special concert in his hometown of Maastricht to tens of thousands who travel from all over the globe to experience one of the most emotionally engulfing live music experiences possible, set against the back-drop of the equally as elegant medieval town square.

The Maastricht concert features the maestro in his element, with his famous 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra, sopranos, tenors and very special guests.

Andre Rieu 3

Last year, André Rieu’s Maastricht concert broke his own record for music event cinema – grossing more than £1.4million (R 25 million) at the UK box office over one weekend, more than Take That and One Direction.

The Maastricht concert in 2017 holds extra special significance, as it marks 30 years since André formed the Johann Strauss Orchestra, who have come to be as much family to him as some of the most talented musicians anyone could share the stage with.

On the cinema shows and his 30th Anniversary of performing with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, André said, “When I founded the Johann Strauss Orchestra in 1987, there were only twelve orchestra members – now there are more than 60 people on stage! Although a lot has changed, there is one thing which has never changed: the joy of playing together, whether in a small group or a big orchestra. We are so much looking forward to bringing this joy again this year to your cinema in July. The program will be very diverse, reflecting this special anniversary. I do hope you will all join us for an unforgettable, magical evening brought to you from my romantic hometown Maastricht.”

Having performed to millions over a career that milestone accolades do no real justice to, audiences in South Africa will be able to live the live André Rieu experience over the 21st and 22nd of October 2017 at Ster-Kinekor select Cinemas.

André Rieu’s 2017 Maastricht Concert will screen at the following Ster-Kinekor select Cinemas and Nouveau theatres over the weekend of 21 & 22 October 2017:

  1. Brooklyn Nouveau
  2. V&A Nouveau
  3. Rosebank Nouveau
  4. Gateway Commercial
  5. Somerset
  6. Tygervalley
  7. Garden Route

Visit any of our world-class dedicated “art cinema” chains in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban to catch this musical maestro at work.

Bookings are now open

For more information and to make bookings to watch ANDRÉ RIEU’S 2017 MAASTRICHT CONCERT, visit the website at www.sterkinekor.com or download the SK App. You can also book at the box office. For news and updates, go to Facebook pages: Ster-Kinekor Theatres or Cinema Nouveau and follow Ster-Kinekor on Twitter: @sterkinekor or @nouveaubuzz. For all queries, call Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).

Posted in Classical Music, Movies, Music, Travel | Leave a comment

WineX 2017

WineX.png

RMB WineX – Jozi’s largest, most enduring and supremely elegant wine show – returns to the Sandton Convention Centre from 25 to 27 October 2017.  Feast your wine soul on the greatest selection of wines under one roof – from the most classical styles to the avant-garde; around 800 wines, artisanal products and accessories from 150 exhibitors are sure to delight all who love wine.  Bespoke tastings, product launches, wine route promotions and art displays are designed to enhance the WineX-lover’s experience of the exciting world of all things vinous. And, the Mastrantonio emporium caters for show visitors ‘on the move’ with easy-to-eat deli meals and sumptuous refreshments.

Ticket options are available from 1 September via computicket.com and Early Bird tickets, #CouplesWednesday and Two-Night Pass packages must be booked by 13 October.   Wine-shoppers should stock up on their favourites through Shop@Show facilitated by Norman Goodfellows who will deliver to your door in time for the festive season.

RMB WineX 2017 Details:                   

Dates: Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 October 2017

Venue: The Pavilion, Sandton Convention Centre, Maude Street, Sandton

Time: 17h00 to 21h00 each night

Bookings:  Book all tickets and packages online via www.computicket.com or call 0861 915 8000. Use the “Print at home” facility for easy access to tickets.

Tickets: Via computicket.com: Early Bird price from R165 to R190 for bookings by 13 October; thereafter and at the door, from R185 to R220.  #CouplesWednesday tickets for two cost R270 and the Two-Night Pass (Wednesday and Thursday) tickets cost R320, both only available for bookings by 13 October.  Group discount tickets available for 10 tickets or more for Wednesday night only available via the organisers at winex@outsorceress.co.za . Includes tasting glass and unlimited tastings.   No entry for under 18s, babies or prams.

Getting there and home:

  • Gautrain (www.gautrain.co.za): Visitors from Pretoria in the North and Benoni in the East catch the train and walk to the Sandton Convention Centre.
  • Uber, or see the website for other responsible rides.

 

Event Queries: See www.winex.co.za for all details, list of exhibitors and wines in the lead-up to the show, and to register for Shop@Show.  Follow on Facebook and Twitter @RMBWineX  #RMBWineX2017 #DiscoverYourTaste

Contact: OutSorceress Marketing, telephone 011 482 5936 or email winex@outsorceress.co.za.

 

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Man Up

The second work I saw at the 2017 So Solo Festival directed by Gita Pather was Man Up.

 

Mark-Tatham-stars-in-Man-Up

Mark Tatham in Man Up

This poignant work only had two performances and I caught the second one.  Pity that there are not more performances because the work is both interesting and relevant to the current health and fitness scene with people working out in gyms.

It stars Mark Tatham, who also wrote the play, as Brian Mitchell, a gym fanatic.   It is important not to confuse this with the biographical drama about Brian Mitchell, the boxer, which will be on at Emperors Palace later this year.  It is directed by Daniel Geddes who keeps a tight rein on the action.

The play unpacks ideas of masculinity, adulthood, life and health and fitness.  Mark Tatham is eye candy and we get to see him performing some interesting feats of strength and fitness.  The work is very physical and visually interesting, but it is the story of his family which holds the audience in the palm of Tatham’s hand. 

Man Up was seen at the So Solo Festival at Wits Theatre on 1 October.  The festival runs until 8 October 2017.  Booking at www.webtickets.co.za.  Online tickets R75 and at the door R80.

Next up on 4 October 2017 is The Cursed Vagina and Tracks at 13:30 and 19:30 respectively.

 

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Tswalo, musing on the universe

The third work I saw at the 2017 So Solo Festival directed by Gita Pather was Tswalo.

Tswalo 1

Billy Langa, creator and performer of Tswalo

The programme pointed out how this work is made by the creators of the brilliant Just Antigone and goes on to say “Tswalo is a tale told through poetry and physical storytelling entwined to interrogate the rules that govern life on earth, such as power, creation, politics, connection and intuition.

This imaginative work is powerfully presented by Billy Langa who was both playwright and performer. The themes are broad and the telling is at times biblical in its proportions and language usage.  A lot was crammed into the 45 minute work and one would need to see it multiple times to absorb it in any kind of depth. The lighting needs a special mention because Mahlatsi Mokgonyana’s lighting design contributed a lot to the complex work giving it dark and mysterious undertones when appropriate, but overall having enough lighting for even a visually impaired person who battles with darkness to see what is going on.  Mahlatsi Mokgonyana also directed the work. The soundscape is by John Withers.

This is not a particularly comfortable work to watch.  While it is mostly in English, the vernacular is used, (often for the humour) and I found myself being singled out for unwanted audience participation which added considerably to my personal discomfort factor.  Warning:  Don’t sit in the front centre.

Tswalo is intelligent theatre and I understand that it will be brought back for a proper season, for those who missed it first time round or those who wish to see it again to absorb more. If you are looking for mindless entertainment, give this one a miss.  However, if you wish to be intellectually challenged, do keep your eye out for this one.

Tswalo was seen at the So Solo Festival at Wits Theatre on 1 October.  The festival runs until 8 October 2017.  Booking at www.webtickets.co.za.  Online tickets R75 and at the door R80.

Next up on 4 October 2017 is The Cursed Vagina and Tracks at 13:30 and 19:30 respectively.

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