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!


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!


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!


28 09 2013

Thur 19th Sept – – Phil and I went to our old stamping ground of Earls Court, Glocester Rd, Queensgate Terrace – where we first met in March 1970. It was amazing to revisit these places!

Fri 20th – we went to visit Rambert studios to watch rehearsal. Mark Baldwin is an old friend (we danced together in Limbs 1977 – 80) and he has been Director of Rambert for 10 years. I was chuffed because he introduced me as his first Cunningham Technique teacher, which is a good way to put me in perspective for the Rambert dancers!

Fridays are good because they are recapping on the whole weeks work – runthru’s of the works for the new triple bill. Comedy of Change (Mark’s piece) was cool and Barack Marshall ( a New York based Israeli and Yemeni choreographer) has created a new work The Casterways which is highly theatrical and very witty.

Fri nite – went to Old Street Station to meet with Benny Ord (dancer in Wayne MacGregors Random dance co) and Shanelle, (In Flagrante dancer) to have a Vietnamese meal – crowded, fun.

In London at a cool vietnamese restaurant

In London at a cool vietnamese restaurant

Sat 21st – went on the London Eye – wow…..

London Eye in background

London Eye in background

then met Gill Davis at her ballet studio – Anna Pavlova’s old mansion Ivy House!! We know Gill because her husband Producer Teg Davis – saw our show in Edinburgh – he loved it – and we have set up a potentially great connection now! Gill greeted us warmly and they kindly remained open at Ivy House so I could look around!!! Than we went to lunch and through the conversation we talked about the older dancer dancing…..the upshot being I offered to teach Gill my Witch Bitch solo!

Sat nite we went to all the way to Canongate Station to have a drink and a laugh with Maria (IF dancer) Danny and Tom (Sauce). Travelling back on the crowded late nite tube at 12:30am was a trip!!

Sun am met with Mark at the NEW Rambert studios – that he has been hugely active in raising the money and deciding the design – what a fantastic achievement!!

Here we are outside the new Rambert studios on South Bank, London

Here we are outside the new Rambert studios on South Bank, London

Then we went back to see Gill and I taught her Witch Bitch – she’s going to be great at it as she has absolutely the right skill set!

at her studio after i taught her Witch Bitch

at her studio after i taught her Witch Bitch

Sunday night Phil and I went to see a cabaret performer Miss Hope –  at the Crazy Coq cabaret venue in Piccadilly, to check it out as a possible venue for IF – the performer was a bit like a mild version Buffy and Bimbo actually, the venue was elegant but too small (no stage) so that was good to clarify.

Monday 23rd – we did an organised tour of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. OMG – I used to dance there as an extra when I was at the Royal Ballet School…….brought back memories from that time in 1970!.  Simon ( the dapper very professional tour guide) took us around – he was great. We were taken into the auditorium where they were rehearsing the lighting for the new production of Don Q, then we went backstage and through a viewing window were able to watch the soloists class for the dancers of the Royal Ballet – sweating it out  – they were up to class adage! Beautiful dancers!!

Mon afternoon we went to the Portrait Gallery – saw Bob Dylan’s drawings, a sculpture / self portrait of Marc Quinn

‘Every five years, the British artist makes a mold of his face, which he gradually fills with 10 pints of blood drawn from his veins. The finished sculptures are kept at freezing temperatures to stop them from liquefying.

“Self” (2006), the fourth and most recent, has just been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in London — with cash from the Art Fund charity and other donors — for 300,000 pounds ($500,000). It’s on display at the gallery, in a Perspex box filled with silica and chilled to minus 18 degrees Celsius.’

Mon evening went to St Pancras Station to meet with friends Katie and Pearce – massive cast iron frame atrium –  refurbished – fantastic! Had pink champagne at the longest bar in the world as we watched the Paris train come in!

St Pancras Station

So much of London has been refurbished and rehabilitated since we were there in the early ’70’s – its a beautiful really liveable city now. Many no vehicles areas – come on Auckland – you can do it……….and love the transport system of course!

Sadly we leave now to head back to NZ – but really looking forward to seeing my family and friends, doing my Honouring, dancing my solo, all good!!

Edinburgh wrap up

17 09 2013

Its now the 17th Sept and so its been nearly 3 weeks since we completed our season in Edinburgh.

The thing that stands out for us in the European context is that New Zealand need have no cultural cringe!
It is seen as a credible source of contemporary culture and creative originality.
Indeed there seems to be a surprising number of references to New Zealand – its narratives, artists and ideas as part of an overall conversation on global culture in the media.

Looking at our own self image from offshore – we often seem to wish to re-affirm negative stereotypes about ourselves, defer to often expat or offshore ‘experts’ to explain ourselves to ourselves and reinforce our own insecurities.
For instance – we note in spite of several excellent and publication credible reviews in the UK media on our show, it was panned by a commissioned expat kiwi academic reviewer living in Edinburgh for and given a prominent negative headline to that effect. To be fair, the editor of the site added links to our UK based reviews, once we pointed them out, but it just seemed so typically New Zealand.
Note to reviewer in this case – we do satire not moral propaganda….. don’t quit your day job!

Our next performances of the whole show are now going to be March 2014.

A Southland tour ending up at the Dunedin Fringe in March is in place.  November just seemed way too soon to get good houses, which are needed for the amount of financial risk level we have to make to do this tour.

In the meantime hopefully we will get some smaller gigs at parties or Xmas do’s over the next few months….and Tempo is looming with my Honouring on the 11th Oct and performing my Witch Bitch solo at the 10th anniversary Gala o the 12th!

Six performances, a great review, settling in….

9 08 2013

Wrote this 4 days ago – didn’t go through as published – so am publishing it now!!.

Its our 9th performance tonight! Rachel went mid week and the local techs are doing welll – whew!!

Had a huge surprise on Monday….was just chilling in the afternoon before gearing up for the evening performance and saw a great review  – headline – ‘no tassels required’ he he …..from Frodo McDaniel in the  Broadway Baby publication!! There we were – reviewed extremely positively and 4 stars. Getting reviewed is a major, let alone such a positive one – we are delighted!

We are creating a bit of a buzz here that’s for sure. The poster cuts through really well and people are really positive about the show. Its so hard to describe or explain it but when they see it they are super appreciative. Everyone reckons we will be packing them in soon – so fingers crossed!
The dancers are being fabulous, really professional, performing beautifully, great attitude – we’re so proud of them. The audiences have been more and more animated – they especially respond to Cancan……see Maria featured below

Our first street events / outdoor performance last Sunday went well – obviously with more clothes on – still shocked people a bit I think – did Traffic, Horses and Marching Girls….mini version, just a cast of 2 in Horses and MG’s. We have another one tonight then a Kiwi party at Roxy – Jo O’Sullivan is bringing us all together to meet and hopefully greet some press! Anyway it will be great to see everyone. Most of the Kiwi shows are getting 4 and 5 stars!

We’ve yet to see anything – been too busy sorting marketing, publicity and things. The dancers have been getting to many shows and are very inspired by the performances they’ve seen!

Five more performances then we have a night off next Monday!