Sunday 22 May 2011

lover: a dance for one


An empty studio filled with early morning light. A lone dancer in a dreamy, magical world within a space that is hers, and hers alone. A stretch on the barre…

Who needs a dance partner

when you have an array of romantic frocks and a sun-drenched studio at your disposal?

This is the question posed by cult Australian label Lover in the film for A/W ’11 collection A Dance For One.

It’s an intimate and lyrical showcase of a range inspired by the soft femininity of classical dance.

There’s softness and fragility as she dances. Underneath, there burns an inner strength, intelligence and drive.

Directed and produced by photographic collaborators Kasia Werstak and Alice Wesley-Smith, known collectively as the AEON, the film is delicate, whimsical and a little hazy around the edges, distilling the very essence of the Lover aesthetic into three and a half minutes. The languid strains of Satie permeate the studio of prima ballerina Amber Scott as she preens and pliés away the day in a selection of new season Lover. Expressed in a palette of soft neutrals and lush fabrics, dancing to the beat of one’s own drum has never seemed quite so desirable.

Nic Briand and Susien Chong, are the creative duo behind Australian label Lover, who were also responsible for Lover’s 2010 film The Harvest, starring Australian actress Sophie Lowe. The process was on organic one, with Lover providing the overall theme and mood boards to set the scene. It was a true collaboration in the sense that the piece was choreographed entirely on the day by Amber, who used the beautiful clothes as inspiration for the fluid movement, creating shapes that would enhance both body and the collection. Gorgeous silks, delicate laces and a nude palette create a seductive synergy with Amber as she dances for one. Nicole Lovelock

Harpers Bazaar featured an interview with Susien Chong and Nic Briand who shared the personal story behind their A/W 11 collection, their influences and why the art of ballet inspires them.

{Source Behind Ballet}

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Friday 31 December 2010

several swans a swooning


Patrick Wolf, singer-songwriter, with the cygnets of the Ballet West,

in the Stag Ballroom of the Mar Lodge Estate, Braemar, Scotland.

These portraits by Tim Walker accompanied the 2007 Vanity Fair article “England Made Them,” by Christopher Hitchens.

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Friday 17 December 2010

marilyn in a tutu


Marilyn Monroe, Ballerina Sitting, 1954, New York City

I adore this tulle wrapped Marilyn..

It was 9 September, 1954 when Marilyn Monroe, in New York to film  The Seven Year Itch, arrived at fashion photographer  Milton H. Greene’s studio to sit for a series of portraits that would juxtapose the starlet with an unadorned wicker chair. Greene’s pictures had appeared in Vogue, Life and Harpers Bazaar and he eventually became Monroe’s business partner. His sensitivity and boyish charm were the ideal antidote to Monroe’s insecurity and neediness and, in front of his lens, she was candid and relaxed.

He’d ordered a white dress from designer  Anne Klein for the shoot, but the tutu’s bodice was too tight. Instead of scrapping it Monroe held herself in the tutu, creating the famous ‘ballerina’ portraits that conjure up a sense of bittersweet fragility, sensual innocence and a whiff of Hollywood heartbreak.

Unlike Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, Monroe never studied ballet (she admitted to struggling with choreography, particularly in  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) but the transformative power of the tutu rendered the photographs emblematic of ballet and dance. In Milton’s Marilyn: The Photographs of Milton H. Greene, author James Kotsilibas-Davis says the poignant images “became more generic portraits of a dancer to challenge even the sketches of Degas”.

{Image Marilyn Monroe. Photography by Milton H. Greene, Text reposted from via behind ballet}

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Friday 17 December 2010

Dancing Sugar Plum {Sweets and Flowers}


Somebody Wake Up the Sugar Plum Fairy; It’s That Time of Year Again

In the Kingdom of Sweets,

Clara and the Prince behold the wondrous beauty of the Sugarplum Fairy.

She invites the couple to stay for a while and enjoy the entertainment of the

Sweets, Dew Drop Fairy, blossom maiden Flora and Flowers of her Court.

    The Waltz of Flowers lead by the Dew Drop Fairy

    evokes hint of jasmine and rose being carried along on a soft, spring breeze

    Coffee from Arabia

    Candy canes from Russia dance a trepak with hoops

    Mother Gigogne with her enormous skirt and the clowns

    Sugar Plum and her Kingdom of Sweets

    Sugar-Plum Fairy and her Cavalier dance the Pas de Deux

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    Friday 17 December 2010

    Tulle and Pointy Toes


    {Images by Rachel Papo Fitting The Nutcracker Costumes of New York City Ballet, 2006 — for The New York Sun via erin ever after; bottom from Australian Ballet’s 2011 calendar}

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    Friday 17 December 2010

    The Nutcracker Suite


    The Nutcracker is a story written by E.T.A. Hoffmann

    which was turned into a ballet with music by the composer, Tchaikovsky.

    The Christmas tale tells of a young girl named Clara who is given a beautiful wooden Nutcracker by her mysterious and magical uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer, a toymaker. On Christmas Eve night, either in a dream or in reality, Clara’s Nutcracker and the toys beneath the Christmas tree come to life. After doing battle with an army of wooden soldiers against the wicked Mouse King, the Nutcracker unmasks himself as a handsome prince and takes Clara to an enchanted kingdom.

    The Party Scene

    It is Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaum house n southern Germany ~ a large and grand house with the most beautiful tree imaginable.  The Stahlbaums are hosting their annual Christmas party, welcoming the arrival of their family and friends.  The children, Clara and Fritz, are dancing and playing as they welcome their friends too. Although it is past their bedtimes, they are allowed to stay until Herr Drosselmeier arrives! He is Clara’s mysterious godfather who always brings unusual things.

    The party grows festive with music and dance as godfather Drosselmeyer arrives.  He is a skilled clock and toy maker and always full of surprises. Drosselmeyer draws everyone’s attention as he presents two life-size dolls ~ Columbine Doll & Harlequin Doll. Drosselmeyer brings these dolls to life. They are the delight of the party, each taking a turn to dance.

    After making dolls come to life and dance, he gives Clara a special gift— a Nutcracker.

    Everyone enjoys her fun with the Nutcracker except her jealous brother Fritz.

    Grabbing it, he throws it to the ground and it breaks!

    Clara is heartbroken looking on as Drosselmeyer quickly repairs the Nutcracker with a handkerchief he magically draws from the air. As the evening grows late, the guests depart and the Stahlbaum family retires for the evening.  Clara, worried about her beloved Nutcracker, sneaks back to the tree to check on him, falling asleep with him in her arms.

    The Fight Scene

    As the clock strikes midnight strange things begin to happen.  Clara begins shrinking as her beautiful Christmas tree grows high above her.  The toys around the tree come to life while the room fills with an army of mice, lead by the fierce Mouse King.

    As the Nutcracker awakens, he lso becomes life-size and leads his army of toy gingerbread soldiers into battle with the mice.

    The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker and battles him one-on-one.  The Nutcracker seems to be no match for the Mouse King. The Nutcracker and his army can go on no longer and are captured by the mice and their King.

    The Mouse King corners the Nutcracker and battles him one-on-one.  The Nutcracker seems to be no match for the Mouse King. The Nutcracker and his army can go on no longer and are captured by the mice and their King.

    Clara, awakened by all the excitement, makes a final daring charge throwing her slipper at the Mouse King, hitting him square on the head.  The Mouse King drops to the floor and the mice run away, carrying off their leader’s lifeless body. The Nutcracker is saved and turns into a handsome young prince!

    The Land of Snow

    Grateful to Marie for saving his life, and as a reward, he leads her through the beautiful Land of Snow,

    an enchanted forest wonderland.  Dancing snowflakes greet and guide Clara and The Nutcracker Prince through the forest on the way to the Land of Sweets.

    A chorus of swirling, icy snowflakes glittering in the moonlight.

    The Land of Sweets

    Clara and her Nutcracker Prince then sail to the Kingdom of Sweets in a nutshell boat pulled by dolphins. There they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy who, after being told what has happened, invites them to sit on the gilded throne. They are entertained by dances performed for them by the Sweets and Flowers of her Court.

    In honor of the young heroine, they are entertained by dances performed for them by

    the Sweets and Flowers of her Court with a celebration of sweets from around the world:

    Chocolate from Spain, Coffee from Arabia, and Tea from China all dance for their amusement;

    Candy Canes from Russia perform an intricate hoop dance;

    Danish Marzipan Shepherdesses perform on their flutes;

    Mother Gigogne has her Polichinelle children emerge from under her enormous skirt to dance;

    a string of beautiful flowers perform a waltz. To conclude the night,

    the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a Pas de Deux.

    The Sugar Plum Fairy and the people of the Land of Sweets dance for Clara and the Prince in the dances of Dew Drop Fairy. Each Dance brings gifts for Clara and her Nutcracker Prince :

    • Spanish dancers bring chocolate

    • Arabian Maidens brings gifts of coffee

    • Russian Dancers dance a trepak, a vigorous men’s folk dance of leg flings and kicks {Candy Canes}

    • Chinese Dancers bring the gift of tea

    • Dance of the Mirlitons {Dance of the Reed-Flutes / Reed Pipes / Marzipan shepherds}, Shepherdesses bring gifts of Marzipan

    • Mother Gigogne and the clowns {Mother Ginger and her children / polichinelles / Bonbons / Taffy Clowns / Court Buffoons} This large lady brings her playful children to visit Clara and the Nutcracker in the Land of Sweets

    • The Waltz of Flowers: the Dew Drop Fairy leads the grand Waltz of the Flowers.

    • Pas de Deux: Sugar-Plum Fairy and her Cavalier

    The Sugar Plum Fairy has welcomed Clara and The Nutcracker prince to her Land of Sweets. A final waltz is performed by all the sweets after which Clara and the Prince are crowned rulers of Confiturembourg forever and are shown the riches of their kingdom domed with an enormous beehive.

    Marie and the Prince then bid farewell to their friends and sail off together to lands unknown.

    The Dream Ends

    Clara awakens from her dream and finds herself by her Christmas tree with her beloved Nutcracker.

    History:  The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by E.T.A. Hoffman written in 1812. When Marius Petipa had the idea to choreograph the story into a ballet, it was based on a revision by Alexander Dumas, a well known French author. In the original E.T.A. Hoffmann story, the young heroine is called Marie Stahlbaum and Clara (Klärchen) is the name of her doll. In the spirit of the fantasy, I have called her Clara.

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    Friday 17 December 2010

    Christmas Carousel Countdown {8 days}


    The Nutcracker :: Sugar Plum Fairy :: marching toy gingerbread soldiers ::

    mischievous mice :: crystalline waltzing snowflakes :: Land of Sweets ::

    beautiful, beautiful christmas ballet

    Dancing in the Land of Snow, a scene from Queensland Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker.

    At the Stahlbaum family’s Christmas celebrations, Drosselmeyer weaves his magic and conjures a cast of imaginative characters, including a Prince, a Snow Fairy, and festive dancers from all corners of the globe. Young Clara is swept into a fantasy dream world where toy soldiers come to life and snowflakes dance.

    Inspired by the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, François Klaus’s traditional Nutcracker is a delight, with lavish sets, beautiful costumes and spectacular dancing. With the much-loved music of Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker opens the door to an enchanting world of dance and theatre.

    Share the magic with your family at Christmas time! The Queensland Ballet is performing this traditional treat at QPAC until 18 December.  The beautiful music of Tchaikovsky is performed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

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