In 1989 dancer Douglas Wright returned home from an dance OE to choreograph and form his own company. This TV profile, occasioned by the premiere of his work Gloria, looks back on a late blossoming career that began at 21 when he took up ballet to overcome a heroin addiction. After becoming a star with Limbs, he moved on to prestigious troupes in London and New York. Now, as opening night looms, Wright is acutely aware of the danger of pushing his dancers too hard physically as he fights to get the best out of them on an ambitious and highly demanding piece.
Arts magazine series For Arts Sake screened on TV ONE for two hours on Sunday mornings for 22 weeks in 1996. This segment on dancer and choreographer Michael Parmenter features an in-depth interview with Parmenter (by series presenter Alison Parr) and excerpts from his dance works. Parmenter talks about his creative influences, his tough upbringing in conservative Invercargill, the tensions caused by being gay and in the Brethren Church when he was younger, and the impact of his illnesses (HIV and cancer) on his life and dance career.
This National Film Unit doco illustrates the early days of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Performances from the company’s touring program include Bournonville’s Napoli, kiwi Arthur Turnbull’s Do-Wack-A-Do, a quirky 1930s flapper themed production (also with a NZ composer, Dorothea Franchi) and the tulle and poise of Fokine’s Les Sylphides. Prismatic Variations, choreographed by ballet company founder Poul Gnatt, and produced by another dance icon Russell Kerr, is the finale for this tribute to those who have made New Zealanders “ballet conscious.”
This TVNZ production showcases the phantasmagoria of fashion and theatre that is the Montana World of Wearable Art Awards. Models, performers, designers and founder Suzie Moncrieff are interviewed behind the scenes; then the creations take to the TSB Arena stage. A headliner of Wellington’s events calendar, WOW moved to the capital from Nelson in 2005. Breakfast TV hosts Sarah Bradley and ex-Tall Black Brendon Pongia present the awards, crowning ovine-themed ‘Rattle Your Dags’ 2007's supreme winner. Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan appears as a mad hatter.
This Māori Television series follows South Auckland dance crew The Palace as they prepare for the World Hip Hop Dance Championships, and a shot at their fourth title. This first episode films open auditions where dancers, including two gay brothers from Tokoroa, hope to join 'The Royal Family'. Led by choreographer Parris Goebel — who talks here about her method and early days — the crew have won global fame, including bringing its 'Polyswagg' to the hit video for Justin Bieber’s Sorry. There are also scenes of Goebel choreographing 2015 Kiwi movie Born to Dance.
This moving documentary portrait of dancer and choreographer Douglas Wright weaves current encounters with footage of past theatrical performances and extracts from his autobiography; from drug addiction and illness, to determination and triumph on the New York stage with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Director Leanne Pooley's skilful documentary captures Wright's resilience, "I need to make things to feel that I can cope with whatever reality is. For me, dancing, performing for people, is the ultimate mystery and the ultimate joy."
Arts magazine series For Arts Sake screened on TV ONE for two hours on Sunday mornings for 22 weeks in 1996. This segment on dancer/choreographer Mary Jane O'Reilly marks the launch of her new company Auckland Ballet. The founder of the celebrated Limbs Dance Company talks about still being involved in dance in her mid-40s, the formation of her new company, the similarities and differences between ballet and contemporary dance, and her move into making dance films. The item also features excerpts from some of O'Reilly's dance works.
Shoes is a refugee's story told with rhythm and shoes. A woman seeking shelter in a new country arrives at a railway station troubled by turbulent thoughts of her past. Walking past a shop window, she sees some familiar-looking, worn-out shoes which trigger more memories. Pairs of dancing shoes eloquently recreate her journey from dance hall to war zone. Directed by Sally Rodwell, founding member of alternative theatre troupe Red Mole, Shoes screened at international festivals including Montreal and Hof.
Although made to showcase female singers, late 60s series A Girl to Watch Music By is possibly best remembered for the moment Ray Columbus became a puppet. In this episode host Columbus played ventriloquist's dummy, sitting on Max Cryer's knee. Wrote Cryer later in his book Town Cryer: "it looked very funny and we knew it and set to work on the choreography immediately." The song is called 'Where Would You Be Without Me'. The ventriloquist idea, which would be repeated again on rare "special occasions", was the brainchild of broadcaster Cherry Raymond.
This televised 1993 performance of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka by the Royal New Zealand Ballet stays true to the original 1911 Ballet Russes version in more than just spelling. Douglas Wright as the titular tormented puppet pays tribute to original performer Vaslav Nikinsky; designer Raymond Boyce channels Alexandre Benois and Russell Kerr's choreography evokes Mikhail Fokine. The sell-out season was reviewed as "phenomenal" and "a visual feast… exploding with colour and shifting image". It was directed by former kids TV host and future TV exec Andrew Shaw.