An Artistic Life

29 09 2015

I’m inspired by reading Twyla Tharps blog to write in mine!

For ages I had been trying to get my work In Flagrante off shore then I realised that I had a super fulfilling artistic life here in NZ and that was more important.

I’m loving teaching my ballet classes (beginners adult ballet and intermediate level) to mainly women who are all fantastic interesting and keen.

Beginners ballet class at Tapac

Beginners ballet class at Tapac

I’m loving re creating 15 mins of my Giselle Act 2 for Tempo Dance Festival. We are part of a shared programme…small/no budget so rehearsing at Auckland Academy of Dance on Sundays. Nancy and Penny are giving us the space – brilliant. The young dancers are working well. i had thought we might do 25 mins and we were going well but the male dancers are few and far between in Auckland so cutting back made sense. I’m still really liking what I made 20 years ago…hopefully it will strike a chord and we will be motivated to try to re-create the whole hour long work next year?

Cast of 20 years ago featuring Kilda Northcott

Cast of 20 years ago featuring Kilda Northcott

And we are presenting In Flagrante again at Q’s Vault. The May season was fantastic so now a November season is planned. We are already selling tickets which is a good sign!For Web ends with a bang image

And an important post script is that I am now a grandmother…my darling daughter Morgan Le Fay Naomi Jane gave birth to Luna Le Fay Nellie Reilly 5 weeks ago. All well!

Southland and Otago Tour

3 05 2014

Have wrenched my ankle so instead of going for a walk on this beautiful Autumn afternoon I’m recording my March 2014 experience taking In Flagrante on tour Down South! This was actually the first tour I have set all myself – with the preliminary help of Megan Peacock-Coyle who lives and works in Oamaru at the Opera House! Thanks Megan. And thanks to CNZ for a $6000 grant to assist paying the dancers!

What a trip – 10 days on the road, 5 performances / one night stands!

We flew to Christchurch but only to pick up our rental vehicles (a station wagon and a van) and head South to Oamaru. This pic of a fire in the distance felt like a bit of a metaphor or symbolic of something !



Oamaru is a lovely old place with very cool op shops and old town area – we did our street theatre in the Marching Girls uniforms and created quite a stir – though not enough to fill the Opera House unfortunately! The people who came loved it – and its a lovely old theatre!


We stayed at a boarding house up the hill which was also very cool – the dude who owns and runs the place was inspired to do a performance for us afterwards!!! He donned a swagman outfit and did a song and dance  – one of the dancers put it up on instagram!!



The first morning the view was gorgeous – the next day we departed in the pouring rain – the tail end of a cyclone hitting NZ – we travelled to Dunedin via the Moeraki Rocks. It was so wet….the others went to climb them – I stayed in the dry because I’d done it before – and we all then went to the next bay around at a pub which really does have the best Fish and Chips ever!!

Dunedin – I had decided we would stay at Port Chalmers at the Buffalo Lodge owned and run by Rona, Kilda Northcotts elder sister – brilliant place! I stayed with Kilda. The next day we did a publicity stunt in the Octagon – though it was full of tour buses unfortunately we did get a photo in the Otago Daily Times!!


The afternoon saw us travel to Wanaka. Beautiful drive!


We performed at the Lake Wanaka Centre the next day – and had a fab crowd!! They just kept arriving as door sales – yay!!

The dancers ran around the lake the next morning and then had a swim in the lake…brrrr….they are such great girls!


Then it was a huge drive way down to Invercargill! Why does Invers feel so like the end of the earth? I think its the wide streets – huge skies but strange wide streets that leave me feeling dislocated! We performed at SIT Centrestage and another great show – small but appreciative audience! I stayed with family friends ( Marg and I went to the beach…now that really felt like the end of the earth!) and the others were at a motel – the only time I accommodated them in standard accom!


The next day we went to Gore (roll your ‘rrs’ here please) and we actually liked it as a small town – again a lovely old theatre, the SBS St James but again a small house but very appreciative! Straight after the show we drove back to Dunedin and Port Chalmers to be there for our final show as part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival and get a sleep in in the morning!

The Mayfair is pretty amazing  – another lovely old theatre! This photo is a bit out of focus – a reflection of how I was feeling by the end of this road trip and performance tour!!


This time the bookings were good, and good door sales, so it was an excited audience of nearly 400 we performed for! They were very vocal in their appreciation also!

We had a quite Sunday and left about mid afternoon to drive to the airport. Before we left Kilda asked if she could perform her Sally

Rodwell ( Red Mole) mImageonlogue for us – which was quite wonderful, nuts but fab!



As we flew out the next day we heard we were nominated in the Best Music and Cabaret Awards – sadly the musician won. Phil Davison plays and improvises on an amazing bass saxophone so I didn’t mind losing to him – it was cool we were nominated! The review the next day was pretty drear – unfortunately she saw it all as just a show for titillating the males in the audience whereas I see it as exactly the opposite – a feminist satiric comment on how we are expected or forced to be in our society! I much preferred the review we got in Hamilton for that reason – it was a thoughtful review which I deeply appreciated.


After 4 days back in Auckland we went to Whangarei and performed in Forum North – nice theatre where Limbs performed the opening event  – I was commissioned to make a bi – cultural work – so I made Warrior. featuring Alfred Williams….but thats another story…..

What have we gained from performing 8 shows in 7 centres? We are certainly an efficient troupe now – setting up is organised, the dancers are great – we even make time for a warmup! Jamie – the tech we took on tour this time was fantastic – the dancers really appreciated him and felt that he ‘had their backs’! I really like the order we performed this tour! The pieces are well set up for maximum effect – dark or comedic! The new dancer  – Georgie Goater – fitted in brilliantly, they all worked professionally and in good cheer, nobody was injured

…thank you dancers!!!!


Next performance is Galatos on May 23rd….getting good bookings already…..excited to have Megan Hughes join us for these performances!!


Dinner with Gillian Lynne and Dorothea Ashbridge – two gorgeous women

2 05 2014

This was a thrill to be with these two amazing Grande Dames of dance!!

This was a thrill to be with these two amazing Grande Dames of dance!!

 I can’t believe I never put this up ….. its now 2014…my only excuse is that I was so full on doing Tempo Festival at the time…

Jan 2008:

I had the enormous pleasure the other night of co-ordinating two Grand Dames of dance to get together in Auckland New Zealand, who hadn’t seen each other since 1951!!

Gillian Lynne (original choreographer of Cats and Phantom) and Dorothea Ashbridge (ballet teacher for Limbs dance co, teacher of Limbs dancers ) are both friends of mine and I knew they had been in the Royal Ballet Company together but I didn’t realize they hadn’t been in touch since 1951 – even though Gillian has been coming to NZ with her kiwi husband Peter Land for a number of years.

So I arranged for us all to have dinner together on the last night before Gilly and Peter had to go back to London.

We – Phil and Dorothea and I – went to Max Cryer’s place first out at Otahuhu (old friend of both Gilly and Doro) for a stiff gin. Then onto the One Tree Grill for dinner with Peter and Gilly.

Well – it was such a thrill.

Apart from the food being great – the company was extraordinary!

I sat there beaming.

Doro had some photos of them both which were taken when the Royal Ballet co first toured to New York in 1949!!!!.

That was the first tour by the Royal Ballet to NY. The tour when they performed ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and Margot Fonteyn brought the house down with her exquisite performance!

They reminisced about how Margot loved a challenge and even though everyone in NY was waiting to see Moira Shearer who had just gained fame in “Red Shoes’ (and who had been cast as Bluebird because of it even though everyone knew it didn’t suit her)

Margot rose to the occasion and eclipsed Moira Shearer and cemented herself a star that night!

And Gilly and Doro were there – and now they’re telling me about it in Auckland, NZ circa 2008!

Both these women are such as inspiration to me.

As I ‘mature’ and struggle with the challenge of combining dance and the older body – these 2 women are so elegant and graceful and are in the 80’s!!!

I loved hearing them talk about Beryl Grey and other ballerinas of the ‘50’s and 60’s who were my idols as a kid studying ballet – here I was, the youngster in the room (usually I’m one of the oldest in dance gatherings in Ak), hearing them reminisce.

One of the photos Doro (dolly to her friends at the Royal) had was a gorgeous picture of a number of them posing elegantly in all their finery for the tour to NY.
Apparently, as it was just after the war and they had no decent clothes, the fashion world in London donated all these elegant clothes for the  ballet dancers to wear. With hats and gloves etc of course!

I should have taken a copy of this photo while it was there in front of me – but I did get Phil to take a photo of us three together!!

2014 begins with a rush – a wedding and a perf with a great review!

9 04 2014

Compared to last year which started very slowly and gained momentum….this year has started with an incredible series of events – not the least our daughter Morgana’s wedding party to our dear son-in-law Peter Salmon – which was so  wonderful and crazy, a great day and week actually with guests and visitors staying and lots of celebrations – beautiful!


I've worn heaps of tutus but never made one before!!

I’ve worn heaps of tutus but never made one before!!

Wedding M's back view Wedding party kiss Wedding Mum, Will and Peter Wedding Ruby and Lucia Wedding party of girls Wedding skype Wedding 3 and Peter


And now we have just done a series of In Flagrante performances.

We performed at the Gay Pride Gala Opening at Q Theatre Feb 7th, opening the show with ‘Our Day will come’ and opened the 2nd half with ‘Group Bondage’. Variety shows are challenging but we went fine. Honoured to be invited – and then also invited to perform at the closing party – 1am in the morning….10 minutes was requested. We did Horses, Green Girls ( a new duet inspired by Tekken, a video game fighting girl character) then finished with Marching Girls. DJ KittyGlitter was before us and came backstage after our bit to say he was super impressed with our performance, ‘never seen anything like it’ apparently he’s based in Sydney and  DJ’s for Lady Gaga so have kept in touch with him on Facebook!

I came back early from APAM specially as I wanted In Flagrante to be in top form for the party. I had just had a week in Oz, going to the Garden of Unearthly Delights festival which is part of the Adelaide Fringe, a festival we should be performing in…we would be perfect for it, though a bit more subtle and thought-provoking than most of the shows, I think we would go down really well there! I met with Scott, one of the Directors after viewing LIMBO, he seemed positively inclined, may come to view us again next time we are on in Auckland (May 23rd at Galatos). Then to Brisbane to APAM , the arts market, 700 delegates from all over, one third buying, one third selling (including me) one third networking! I felt it was really worthwhile – made some great contacts and leads that are already being followed up.

can can  maria



the Choiserie Garden at Hamilton Gardens Fest

the Choiserie Garden at Hamilton Gardens Fest

We were in Hamilton for 2 nights at the Gardens Festival. We performed in the Chinoiserie Garden….first time ever we have done a full performance outside, if we don’t count dancing in a tent at Splore! We went well – have been rehearsing hard to get everyone up to speed for the full show. Great audience responses. Great review on theatreview!

Good practice for South Island in 2 weeks!

Review by Debbie Bright.

The Chinoiserie Garden, one of numerous themed gardens in the Hamilton Gardens: outdoors on a fine mild evening, Chinese pavilion transformed into stage with curtained backstage, tables and chairs, low lighting, a bar, tasteful and non-intrusive Spanish guitar music. An evening of cabaret is set.  The patrons arrive with their friends, wine and snacks and set themselves up around tables, or buy drinks to take back to their seats. There is a sense of occasion, the ‘exotic’, something definitely outside of the norm. Without programmes, we wait to be entertained, surprised, amused; we expect the unexpected.

The audience lights dim and the stage lights and music come up. A single young woman appears and begins to dance – scantily-clad, erotic, alluring, ‘naughty’, entertaining, amusing, fun. The costume and style are reminiscent of World War II nose art; the song, Make my Day. She is joined by 3 other dancers and the movement sequence is repeated and echoed and fragmented. The show has begun. The dancers change quickly behind the curtain and reappear for the next item. One dance item follows another: adult play-acting, fantasy, flaunting display, titillation – an erotic ‘come on’ – to the music of Austrian cabaret group Waldeck’sBallroom Stories. We see eroticism, humour, parody, irony, role-playing, classiness, sauciness, and, above all, polished performance. Sophisticated late night entertainment, perhaps seen as less risqué now than in earlier times. Yet, in this setting and time, it still has the power to shock, or at least startle, while providing great fun and entertainment.

Roll out the superlatives! The 5 young women in the company are slick, sleek, buffed and polished, displaying fantastically toned bodies dancing with skill and pizazz.  They portray all the virtuosity and cheekiness expected of women in burlesque: young women who relish their life together, their youth, dance skills and physical attractiveness, and their powerful roles as adult entertainers. Fantastic!

Yet, the work is both performance of and commentary on the perceived roles of women in the first half of the 20th century. As the items roll through and bodies move and are exhibited and displayed with increasing eroticism, I feel as if I am being taken from the polished performing outside, to the girl inside, and back again. The inside girl may feel cynicism, a patronizing superiority, vulnerability, disaffection, fear, anger and powerlessness, and hint at her experiences of the everyday relationships, amusements, needs and discomforts of a normal young woman. Yet, this young woman can also skillfully mask her inner self by plastering a polished insouciant performing face and body firmly back in place. I am seeing the girl inside the burlesque of the first half of the 20th century and before, but I am also seeing a young woman of the second decade of the 21st century, with her sense of history, experience, and perceptions. Theatre that may once have been seen as legitimate erotic entertainment for prosperous men, is now overlaid by our 21st century views of women’s rights, ownership of the body, battered women, abuse, violence, victimisation, political correctness, female slavery, and our discourses of objectification of the body and the male gaze. Yet, I am also aware that this tradition continues today in nightclubs, strip clubs and adult entertainment centres. Some would say that, in such places, men and women continue to be degraded, while others would say that they are places of honourable escapist entertainment, satisfying to both men and women. The whole experience for me is an interweaving of sophistication, eroticism and a comfortable embracing of a life of display and allure, together with cynicism, loss, and everyday banal-ness.  But then, I can’t help it if I view this work from the perspective of a well-educated, heterosexual, twenty-first century woman who is not challenged by her hormones in such a context.

A hit right from its opening in Auckland in 2011, an extended production of In Flagrante toured New Zealand (including Hamilton) in 2012, and was very successful at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in late 2013. In her choreography, Mary-Jane O’Reilly returns to her Limbs Dance Company style of exquisite and highly skilled contemporary dance choreography and performance, blended with irony, humour and the ability to portray engagement with everyday life while poking fun at it. There have been numerous reviews of the work over the years, in different venues. But there doesn’t appear to have been a review of a performance in such a venue as the Chinoiserie Garden. Hamilton, what a treat!


Fri 6th performance ……

4 12 2013

Galatos this Friday – yay!
Really hope it works production wise as keen to use this venue more often!

2 shows back to back  – 7pm and 9:30pm…..

Ticket sales going well – people like Galatos if they know it! We had a great article and ad in Sat Herald.

We also did promo Marching Girls around town like we did in Edinburgh – seemed to work really well! Once they see the MG’s they are keen for a flyer he he….

A new dancer  – Georgie Goater – very exciting dancer – cool addition to the lineup! New solo – she looks amazing!
Phil made their hats last night – so clever – very smart! The costumes for Molly and Georgie are one in red and one in blue stretch velvet – should look fab!

I see this post is full of exclamation marks – its how I feel at the mo….aaaagh!

I’ll come back to this post with images a bit later but will post now…….



The Seychelles private party performance!

22 11 2013

Flights – I’ve realised we have just flown the equivalent of to London and back in a week – for one performance!! It was worth though…….beautiful surroundings, cool client, fun times! The flights – one has to just be stoic and put up with it!! Emirates have great entertainment media offerings!

The Seychelles – are as beautiful as we are told. Strange rock formations, beautiful lagoons and bays!

Seychelles rockLagoon outside my room

Food – the food at the 5 star hotel where we were staying was scrumptious! Breakfast and dinner buffets….the desserts were especially delicious!

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet continued

We enjoyed the luxurious surroundings!

Our accommodation!

Performance – we arrived on the Wednesday, set lights, did spacing, did tech run-through on Thursday – all day. Then Friday did a full dress rehearsal in the morning and the performance was 10:30pm that night. Small private party of about 40 guests, we never met them but they seemed to really enjoy it……the women sitting at a table in front of the tech desk where I was standing to call the cues….never moved – they were transfixed!

Client – so we were flown to the Seychelles to perform In Flagrante for a private party for a businessman! They may ask us back? If they did – yes we would do it again!

Crew – the support team of mainly South African lighting and sound and backstage crew were awesome. Heaps of them  – all very professional and helpful!

After rehearsal

Dancers – the girls were super professional at all times – really proud of them. Thanks to Shanelle Lenehan (she also doubled as tour manager – thanks so much Shanelle!!), Amanda Macfarlane (we flew her in from London where she is now based!) Maria Munkowits (who performed the Whip solo with great aplomb!) Molly McDowall (her Pikelet solo was hugely enjoyed) Sofia McIntyre (she performed Traffic solo for the first time!! Did well!!)

Snorkelling  / tortoises – after the performance we had 2 1/2 days off to relax and enjoy ourselves! We went snorkelling and fell out of the kayaks trying to surf the waves back in!! We fed the tortoises – one was 150 years old! They liked having their necks stroked!

Ready for snorkelling

sunburnt butts after snorkelling!Tortoise friends

Victoria township – creole culture – the markets were cool – exotic, relaxed, nothing like Marrakech…..thanks goodness!!

Victoria Markets in The SeychellesGood for the blood

New dancer, new solo, new venue, new team mates!

12 11 2013

Am excited about performing at Galatos next month. Hoping to have a new solo up and running he he…..its a fun one for Xmas!
The dancers are all still in top form, looking great!
Had an audition last weekend – have chosen a new dancer – a gorgeous tall redhead!!
Galatos is now with new owners and is nice and clean….finally! The stage is tiny but we’ll fit because we’re so adaptable. Good sightlines for everyone!
Also new partners in crime helping us with this show – the lovely Dannielle Beh is assisting with publicity and marketing – yay! Danny and her gorgeous husband Peter Urlich are fans of the show and are now working with us to make the Galatos season a great success!!

Off to the Seychelles today – will tell about this when I get back….in my next blog!