All posts by Lynne Lancaster

A passionate theatre person Lynne is originally from Sydney and holds a B.Ed (Art) - a postgraduate Diploma in Information Management (Librarianship) and an MA in Theatre. While living in London ( 2002 -2007 ) Lynne completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells linked in with Chichester University. Lynne has worked for both Ticketek and Ticketmaster here in Australia and was involved with the original production of THE BOY FROM OZ An Ausdance member Lynne is passionate about dance and has studied ballet and Flamenco. Before moving to London she photographed the Sydney Dance Company and Australian Ballet among other companies and has exhibited internationally. Lynne is a SAMAG member and a volunteer at the Art Gallery of NSW. Currently Lynne writes for arthub, danceinforma and sydneyartsguide.

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : YOUNG PICASSO

The latest fascinating film from the Exhibition on Screen team is THE YOUNG PICASSO .

YOUNG PICASSO looks at Picasso’s earlier years up until 1907, with the production of the revolutionary Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Picasso’s childhood , training and influences and how he eventually became one of the world’s most famous artists.

Various museums are visited – we briefly see assorted exhibition displays in Spain, France and MOMA in New York for example – as the camera pans around the room. Several museum directors, curators and other experts talk about Picasso’s life and analySe the numerous works and Picasso’s grandson Olivier Widmaier is featured. Where appropriate the film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Continue reading EXHIBITION ON SCREEN : YOUNG PICASSO

DANCING UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKIES BY VALERIE LAWSON

This is a fascinating ,enthralling book extensively researched and vividly written by renowned dance critic and journalist Valerie Lawson . Lawson uses letters, interviews and personal anecdotes from dancers, directors, impresarios , producers, and critics to bring the history and characters alive . The horrendous drain of one night stands on the exhausting long tours ! The backstage scandals and dramas!

With a forward by David McAllister of the Australian Ballet , and a well laid out table of contents , the book while large and heavy is beautifully illustrated and also includes a terrific bibliography and helpful index at the back .

The preface briefly acknowledges the very early history of ballet in Australia but the book really begins with the tours of the famous Anna Pavlova ( with her signature solo ‘The Dying Swan’) in 1926 and then her 1929 tour, where the Taits and JC Williamsons ( ‘The Firm’ ) first feature and we learn how she influenced a young Robert Helpmann. The merits (or lack of) the ballets presented are discussed. Continue reading DANCING UNDER THE SOUTHERN SKIES BY VALERIE LAWSON

TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES KATHRYN MCGOVERN FASHIONED FROM NATURE

The latest exhibition at the Mosman branch of Traffic Jam Galleries is Kathryn McGovern’s FASHIONED FROM NATURE .

McGovern’s exhibition focuses on the interactions between animals and human beings sharing the planet. McGovern is based in Brisbane. In most of her work she concentrates on endangered species . McGovern’s anthropomorphic creations in watercolour, gouache and ink show the idea of the imposition of the human aesthetic of beauty on nature through artifice and intervention and simultaneously derive inspiration from the impact of fashion on the natural world – blending ecological awareness and fashion.

The works are exquisite , incredibly detailed and range in size , some small some quite large all beautifully presented. If you look closely you possibly see completely different things from if you are standing further back so the exhibition bears repeated viewing and you notice other things each time. Continue reading TRAFFIC JAM GALLERIES KATHRYN MCGOVERN FASHIONED FROM NATURE

THE PRADO MUSEUM : A COLLECTION OF WONDERS

The latest from the team that brought us Caravaggio: The Soul and The Blood and Water Lilies of Monet: The Magic of Water and Light is THE PRADO MUSEUM A COLLECTION OF WONDERS .

It is perhaps at times a bit overwhelming and excessively rich as we explore the history, building, and many famous works housed in the collection of the Prado Museum .

Dramatically narrated by Jeremy Irons we learn of the Museum’s two hundred year history and view some of its collection.There are interviews with curators and we see a little of the fascinating conservation and restoration work that is involved. Included are spectacular landscape shots and the interior and exterior of the building and how now the Museum is for The People bringing art to the masses, a living museum that moves and changes . Fascinating footage is included of a touring section of the Museum during the early 1930’s and how the Museum survived the Spanish Civil War and World War 11.

Six centuries of Spanish history are covered – we see various portraits and learn the history of its of kings and queens, from Ferdinand of Aragon’s marriage to Isabella of Castile – which marked the beginning of the great Spanish empire – and various later painters, artists, architects, collectors, curators, intellectuals and visitors.

A painting or other artwork can be analysed as colour, canvas ( or other media) , form and, matter, but it is also the story of men and women, both rich and poor, rulers and artists ,queens and palaces . Interviews include ,for example ,the director of the Prado, Miguel Falomir and Sir Norman Foster, the architect who worked alongside Carlos Rubio to carry out the restoration of the Salón de Reinos and its conversion into a museum.

The Prado was founded in 1819 – thanks to Ferdinand VII’s wife, Maria Isabella of Bragranza, and her love of art – and its collection has been further developed over the years thanks to the great foresight of rulers and art historians who selected works by the great masters from all over Europe. So viewers see how art is an international language with no real barriers .

There are over eight thousand works housed in the Prado’s extraordinary collection .The documentary concentrates particularly on the works by Goya ( eg his paintings The Third of May and The Fifth of May but also his nightmare paintings Los Caprichos and how this was social critique of the time ) and Velasquez ( eg :Las Meninas and his other incredible court portraits ) but also there are mentions of Lorca , Caravaggio, Dali,  Picasso,  Botticelli, Rubens , Bosch , Giordarno,  Guido Reni, Mantegna, Durer, Brueghel, de Zubaran ,Tintoretto, El Greco, Titian and and and … so many famous paintings! Not forgetting, to name but a few, the sculptures, glass work, tapestries, a special clock collection and a photographic collection and archive.

We see both long panning shots of various rooms of the Prado and some of the works are photographed in great close up and analysed by various experts and curators .There are also fiery sequences of Flamenco dance linked in with discussion about the Spanish soul and history and how this links in with the paintings; the contrast between body and soul, wealth , nobility and misery, The history of the female nude in particular is examined and how it is linked to ‘mythological ‘ paintings , and also the male nude and homo-eroticism . Another interesting issue raised is the lack of representation of female painters.

This was a fascinating look at the Prado’s collection. As Picasso said “ Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Running time 90 mins ( approx.) no interval

THE PRAO MUSEUM A COLLECTION OF WONDERS screens at selected arthouse cinemas from July 13 2019

http://www.sharmillfilms.com.au/allfilms/pradomuseum

BETWEEN TINY CITIES @ THE STUDIO

BETWEEN TINY CITIES was devised and choreographed by Nick Power, a Sydney-based choreographer whose early career was marked with ten years in a remote First Nations community called Lajamanu in NT. There he was mentored by elders of the community about Walpiri culture and here that he realised hip-hop has its own history, rituals and connection to culture , which eventually led to his creation of this production. The show is Power’s response to a four-year dance exchange program between Darwin’s D*City Rockers and Cambodia’s Tiny Toones youth program. There is warmth ,humour and some amazing dancing.

The audience enters and stands behind the clearly delineated circle on the floor that is the performance space. Dancers Aaron Lim and Erak Mith are extraordinary. Dressed in casual t-shirt and leggings with sneakers, they blend contemporary dance , hip hop , Indigenous and traditional Cambodian dance in a thrilling ,compelling mix full of incredible dynamic energy and fluid grace. They watch each other intently the whole time, at times mirroring each other, sometimes melding and becoming a fluid, moving sculpture like a wrestling match. The show begins in slo -mo but soon becomes very energetic and fast paced. At times it is a teasing dialogue ‘anything you can do I can do better ‘, at other times it is a considered discussion reaching towards mutual understanding . Continue reading BETWEEN TINY CITIES @ THE STUDIO

ROH Live: ROYAL BALLET MEDUSA TRIPLE BILL

As part of ROH Live screenings , we were privileged to see a most intriguing contemporary triple bill superbly danced by the Royal Ballet – Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour ‘, Crystal Pite’s ‘Flight Pattern’ and ‘Medusa’ , a new work by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.Two revivals and a world premiere .

The programme opened with a glorious revival of Wheeldon’s ‘Within the Golden Hour’, created on San Francisco Ballet in 2008 and first performed by the Royal Ballet in 2016. It is abstract yet lush, shimmering and exquisiteLY redesigned with semi transparent golden , floaty costumes by Jasper Conran .

Wheeldon acknowledges he was influenced by Klimt’s ‘golden period’ in creating the ballet , and Australian audiences might think of Kristian Fredrikson ‘s costume designs for Graeme Murphy’s ‘Shéhérazade’ . Peter Mumford’s lighting is splendidly enhancing and atmospheric with most effective use of shadows and silhouettes Ezzio Bosso’s ‘Music for Strings’ throbs and glimmers, blending towards the end to the andante from Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto.

There are seven pairs of dancers who come together in assorted combinations. Wheeldon’s athletic ,challenging choreography is fluid and sinuous and includes difficult high lifts, slithery floorwork and male pas de deux as well as possible references to Latin-American ballroom.

It also requires a long , stretched ‘line’ and big showy jumps at times particularly for the male dancers. The first section for the whole ensemble sees them writhing sculpturally. Then there are assorted pas de deux and other combinations : for example a tender, fragile ,dreamily lyrical pas de deux and a darting dragonfly like female quartet which are contrasted with a coolly elegant and regal pas de deux by another pair of dancers.

Towards the end the dancers cascade off the stage, then return for the final short segment and are still dancing when the curtain falls.

The middle work was the hotly anticipated world premiere of ‘Medusa’ by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui with Natalia Osipova in the eponymous role. While Osipova was sensational , it is perhaps slightly disappointing .This is Cherkaoui’s first commission for the Royal Ballet. The music blends Purcell arias at times ironically commenting on the action with the atmospheric ebbs ,flows and bumps of electronic composer Olga Wojciechowska .

Based on the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses , the ballet tells the story of how Medusa was a beautiful priestess who was dedicated to and served in the temple of the goddess Athena .Medusa was raped by the god Poseidon, and a jealous Athena took revenge by turning Medusa (one of her favourites) into a monstrous creature, a hideous Gorgon with writhing serpents for hair. Anyone who looked Medusa in the face was instantly turned to stone, until Perseus succeeds in killing her which sets free her soul transformed back to beauty.

Osipova tries to depict both sides of Medusa – the stunning priestess, who offers a scarf as a good luck token to Perseus , and the furious Gorgon, with fierce kicks and a basilisk stare. While the ‘snaky’ headdress is rather striking it is not scary rather just looks messy, somewhat of a disappointment .

Cherkaoui’s choreography is eclectic,  blending deconstructed neoclassical ballet and pointe work , street style moves , writhing floor work and capoeira-style kicks with blade sharp feet and deadly neck twists.

Olivia Cowley was coolly elegant as Athena who punishes her acolyte because she can’t punish the god. Ryoichi Hirano in an asymmetric indigo kilt like outfit ( Samurai inspired.? ) and dramatic blue stripe was commanding as Poseidon who calmly observes Athena’s punishment of her priestess. The transformation is achieved behind a huge scarf, (The scarf is a recurring visual motif – we see Medusa with one at her first dance with Perseus, her transformation, and her death).

The soldiers – Perseus et al – are led by tremendous Matthew Ball but hampered by the rather discordant ,unflattering semi transparent boiler suit costumes. Other soldiers wear mesh fencing masks made to look like stone , with plumes resembling Ancient Greek helmets, their faces hidden. Perseus removes his at one point – does Medusa recognise him? Does he recognise her? It is suggested that Medusa lets Perseus kill her so her soul can be free,
The ending is rather enigmatic and inconclusive  with Medusa transformed back to her beautiful self and on the temple steps with her bowl .She is sad and reflective.

Crystal Pite’s ‘Flight Pattern’ is stark and bleak but very moving. The dancers are all in grey costumes and often move in surging , pulsating patterns,  at times like flocks of birds . To Górecki’s haunting Symphony of Sorrowful Songs Pite has produced a work inspired by the world wide refugee crisis , motherhood and loss. It is mostly a huge ensemble work (36 dancers in the cast!) who writhe, leap ,fall, but we occasionally see churning individuals break out from within the group, all harbouring their own sense of loss, destroyed hopes and other back stories. Towards the end we see one couple , Kristen McNally and Marcelino Sambé,, who have already lost their baby.

McNally mourns in anguish. to the lament of Mary on the death of her son (sung by soprano Francesca Chiejina). McNally also has to symbolically bear the weight of everyone’s loss, as represented by the huge, heavy load of coats that end up piled in her arms. Her partner Sambé explodes in a solo of feverish anger.. The black walls of the set open to let the crowd of refugees in, but close to exclude the couple. McNally rocks back and forth, lamenting. Snow is continuing to fall behind the wall and now the refugees no longer have their coats. Have they reached their destination? The ending is inconclusive. A melancholIc, poignant work.

A very thought provoking triple bill full of glorious dance.

Running time just over 3 hours including two intervals.

https://www.eventcinemas.com.au/EventsFestivals/RoyalOperaHouseLiveCinemaSeason20182019#cinemas=64

 

MATTHEW BOURNE’S CLASSIC ‘SWAN LAKE’

 

Now regarded as a classic, this is the third time that Matthew Bourne’s SWAN LAKE for his New Adventures company has been filmed – in this case , it was the revival for the Christmas season last year at Sadler s Wells.

First seen in 1995 , it is still as brilliant, startling and moving as ever. At the time it was revolutionary and cutting edge, a period when an anti virus drug for AIDS had just been discovered and fear was still rampant .From its starkly dramatic opening it is a dark, timeless love story of love, death and rigid control. Oedipal/Freudian undertones can also be read into the narrative .

There have been some slight changes and streamlining for those familiar with the work and Lez Brotherston’s designs. The Girlfriend’s pink dress has been slightly toned down, there are no cars or paparazzi as the VIPS arrive for the ball, there is no ‘young Prince’ to start and end the work, the world weary fan dancer/ stripper at the Bar is now in blue. Continue reading MATTHEW BOURNE’S CLASSIC ‘SWAN LAKE’

PALACE OPERA AND BALLET : CINDERELLA

Hugely spectacular ,with amazing set designs and a giant cast, full of superb dancing ,this is a revival filmed New Years Eve 2018 of the Paris Opera Ballet in Nureyev’s version of CINDERELLA.It is a tribute to the company’s former Artistic Director who would have been celebrating his 80th birthday.

Nureyev’s version uses the lush, intense Prokofiev score – the Orchestre Pasdeloup is dynamically, thoughtfully conducted by Vello Pähn . During the overture there are great closeups of various Orchestra members .

The huge set designs by Petrika Isonsesco are amazing, full of tiny detail. At Cinderella’s home there are grand windows , on the film set a huge King Kong and allusions to Metropolis with the huge cogs of machinery. Plus the ‘ballroom’ scene has a huge staircase for CInderella’s entrance .

In his version Nureyev has transposed the story of Cinderella to the Hollywood of the1920’s or thereabouts with allusions to Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, the Keystone Cops etc.

In this version Cinderella is trapped, a servant in her own home, her father a henpecked drunkard, the place instead being dominated by her autocratic stepmother and bitchy, bullying sisters. She dreams of escape,  of becoming a film star and meeting her handsome prince as word is passed around of an audition for a film and the stepsisters are coached. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET : CINDERELLA

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND DOCTOR WAS NOT

Following on from Sherlock Holmes The Australian Casebook published in 2017 , this is a fast paced ,grippingly written assortment of twelves short stories based on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, some of which are strange, bizarre and disturbing , blending Homes’ cold factual deductive reasoning and the supernatural and spooky. It is edited by Christopher Sequeira and has a forward by Leslie S Klinger.

A handy table of contents is available at the front and at the back there is a biography of all the contributors from around the globe. The cover design is by Luke Spooner and an illustration by Phillip Cornell of the Sydney Passengers is also included. Breaks in the stories are indicated by an image of a Meerschaum pipe.

A common theme is the letter M ( both for Mycroft and Moriarty for example ) but also Holmes’ other possible tenants who were different Doctors to Watson : including a Dr Mabuse.  Much supernatural and philosophical debate arises from the revelations in Curtain Call. Yes, Moriarty is back in various guises. There are time travelling stories (Holmes and Dr Dee of Elizabeth 1’s time ), stories set possibly in different dimensions, and ones for example where Holmes and /or Watson are military people . Holmes also works in one story with Conan Doyle. There is a fascinating story with Holmes and Dr Jeckyll/Mr Hyde. Continue reading SHERLOCK HOLMES AND DOCTOR WAS NOT

THE HEART DANCES

THE HEART DANCES is an intimate look at behind the scenes of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of The Piano –inspired by Jane Campion’s 1993 film . Originally a one act ballet, (performed by a German company in 2015 ) in 2018 the Royal New Zealand Ballet commissioned Czech choreographer Jirí and his twin brother production designer Otto Bubenicek and invited them to Wellington in order to extend the work to be full length with just one month to prepare .

Directed by Rebecca Tansley the film looks at the lead up to the work , all the intensive production and rehearsals, auditions and casting selection as well as wardrobe and sound etc all documented from audition to opening night.  A dominant visual theme at the beginning is hanging pointe shoes with dangling ribbons.

What we see is a clash of cultures and misunderstandings -it soon becomes clear to the New Zealanders that the Bubeniceks had more or less not really grasped the deeper layers of the film; that as well as being a love story, it was also a fable of colonisation. It became imperative to teach the twin brothers that the Māori in The Piano are not just there to add colour to the scenery and soundtrack, but are an integral part of the narrative and must be accurately portrayed. Continue reading THE HEART DANCES

DEGAS : A PASSION .FOR PERFECTION

 

This is the latest from the team at Exhibition on Screen and examines the life and work of Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, AKA Edgar Degas.( 1834 -1917 ) .It is based on the exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge which then transferred to the Denver Art Museum. (The Fitzwilliam Museum’s extensive collection of Degas’ works is the most representative in Britain.)

It is lushly, glamorously photographed and includes a biography as well as shots of the exhibition and close ups of various works in great detail as well as comments by various curators and other experts . We see the exhibition being installed and conservators and curators talk about preserving the works. Continue reading DEGAS : A PASSION .FOR PERFECTION