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!!


Back in NZ

20 10 2013

Actually very proud to be a New Zealand woman these days! Forget male sport……female arts are strong and flourishing with Lorde and Eleanor Catton leading the way – go girls!!

In the 3 weeks I’ve been back I’ve had an incredible time – being Honoured by Tempo dance Festival on Oct 11th!

A fabulous night - felt very honoured!!

A fabulous night – felt very honoured!!

Dancing my solo ‘Witch Bitch’ at the Tempo 10th Anniversary Gala on Oct 12th!

An interview with Kathryn Ryan on National Radio was cool – she asked intelligent questions!


Presented Marching Girls and Horses at a 50th birthday party last night Oct 19th – to huge appreciation from the partygoers! Would be keen to do more of those leading up to Xmas!! They had seen us perform these 2 items at the Gay Pride Gala earlier in the year and loved us so invited us to perform at her 50th!!

Maybe the dude from the Seychelles will get back to us  – that could be fun! He asked us to go there this week but we were overcommitted!

Now working on In Flagrante having further life  – back in the UK next year – London and Brighton in September or October 2014 hopefully, in the meantime Southland tour next March, some local performances in Auckland …not sure when and where yet!

Teaching my MojoCabaret class……if the numbers stay really small maybe it will evolve into a more technical contemporary ballet class……we’ll see  – would actually love to teach advanced technique classes somewhere!

What else?

its Labour Weekend next weekend so will go to Waihi Beach and chill out……

Vids to Guardian, studio hire, buttons on website…..

15 07 2013
from In Flagrante

Maria in the Cancan Punk

So we now have a studio booked in Edinburgh to do class and a bit of rehearsal when we get there – thanks Maria for organising that. I’ve just managed to upload our promo vid onto the Guardian / Edfringe page promo section – whew…..that took a while as I had to work out the format and size (had to edit our promo vid quite radically but think it still works). Update 18.7.13 – After all that have finally realised they want footage like for a news item – not anything edited as a promo vid  -so have sent the footage I recorded from the Gay Pride Gala Opening event at Q theatre – we did Marching Girls and the audience were hilarious – they got it, loved it and I love this footage because it shows a wonderful sense of community/communication between the audience and the dance! We’ve ordered a button ( an ad on the side of the page) on the edfringe website  -so have to go to the bank to organise payment as they don’t have Paypal – shame as paypal makes things so much easier! Update 18.7.13  – aaaagh – in the end just called them and paid by credit card over the phone, rather than pay that extra $25  – I’ve learnt its a challenge working with people who have a 12 hours time difference  – they are working while we are sleeping….so we’re not doing much sleeping/relaxing at the moment…. Have a dude checking our house alarm now – updating the battery etc….. I’m now heading up to K rd (Karangahape Rd) to find another cancan skirt – we’re leaving behind the huge denim skirt we made that Shanelle wears as its too heavy….our costs for extra baggage are huge already. Update 18.7.13 Got a skirt from an Indian clothes shop – turned it inside out and Phil got a NZ flag which we’ve ….er…re-arranged and sewn in bits onto the skirt…..kiwi punk style…. I’m looking into getting an upgraded phone so can make better quality photos and video……. 10 more sleeps……. its all go…….

Oct/Nov 2012

11 12 2012

Its been nearly 4 months….and a lot has happened. Most of it exciting, fulfilling and successful.

Our Living Room Festival was brilliant (late Oct/early Nov) – the Aotea Square and its surrounds were brought to life in a unique way  – The BMX riders were scary and exciting but I was really pleased with the overall result – quirky wonderful performing arts outdoors and free…vid coming up which i will post…..would love to do it again now that I know what’s what!!


In Flagrante keeps on keeping on – its such a great show and is getting better and better – Tempo 13th oct was ok, glad to be there but not ideal set up. Hamilton mid Nov and the 3 south island centres late Nov were fab. Lots of people came – ( as usual couples mainly, 25 – 65 yr olds!) and it wasn’t what they were expecting but the feedback was excellent.

I also taught my MojoCabaret class through Oct/Nov – mixed results in the city – great participants but not very many – then had a workshop in Nelson with 30 people attending – fun!! Keeps me heartened to keep developing it as the participants had a great time which reassured me that the concept and the material is excellent!

Working now on getting 2013 gigs for IF and setting up 2013 class and workshops of MC…..

Tempo Highlights

19 11 2008


Opening Day(Sunday 28th Sept) – such a buzz…… you know those moments/epiphanies when you realize everything is perfect – when everyone (the general community) was dancing salsa then hiphop in Aotea Square under a lovely warm spring sun – a perfect moment. ( see photos in Opeing Day post)


 Cheek to Cheek – a variety showcase which is a delightful platform for all sorts of gorgeous duets – and its wonderful how everyone from all the different cultures and styles appreciate each other and make friends.


Fresh Cuts – a fresh, wonderfully funny show from 5 young choreographers – so fresh, so young, so skilled.


Mtyland – Footnote outdid themselves this year with a work by Claire O’Neil. The dancers gave great performances, the work was unpredictable but controlled wildness, great lighting and music – I want to see it again!


Kids Show – packed audiences of very young and very old were enchanted by superb dancing from Mt Eden Ballet Academy, loose but charming dancing from triple8funk.


Honouring – a moving acknowledgement of one of the great NZ dancers Glenn Mayo, a superb artist who danced with Limbs and for Douglas Wright. And a great opportunity for ‘the clan’ of the Limbs dancers and friends to gather and celebrate. (see photos in Glenn’s Honouring post)


Short films –we made a mini cinema at Tapac in a drama studio this year and it worked brilliantly. I’m passionate about dance film and this is the way for us to do it. I was pleased with the one NZ dancefilm programme and will expand on this next year!

And to have the ‘New Dance Group’ documentary premiered at tempo was a great honour – thanks Shirley Horrocks!


Legacy (dance crew from Wgtn)– so funny, so fab, so humble, so professional. These guys were brilliant in their own way and can only get better.


Kilda and Lyne – Bipeds. Their new work ‘Lily’ was given a preview this year in ‘Prime Cuts’ at Tapac at tempo. They are so clever and funny and moving. A great partnership, awesome performers!


Awards party – this is always great as it’s a chance for the dance community to celebrate its own – well done everyone who won awards and were nominated (see Awards part post for full list and photos)


There were also many other highlights from ‘Tierra Flamenca’, to ‘Tent’ and ‘Tama Ma’ – a wonderful year for Tempo.


Tempo is great because of all the dancers from all over NZ, of all genres, styles, culture and ages, amateur and professional, who all contribute to this fabulous month of dance.



Tempo, Tango and Dancing with the Stars

15 04 2008

Things are coming along with Tempo planning of the programme. Am meeting with lots of dance people who will hopefully be contributing to the festival in their various ways. Excited about the depth of the festival, all local content this year, with Michael Parmenter headlining, which is great, and other groups such as Touch Compass, Atamira, Tai and Taane’s new company Okareka!

Had a tango lesson on Monday night. Feel like i’m starting to feel it in my body now – a bit less on the surface. I really like the leg designs, hope to go to a class on Sat where we (the women) are shown ‘adorno’ which is how to add those fancy leg actions into the dance apparently.

As i was leaving the class I bumped into the young women from Backlit. Apparently they are learning a dance for Marianne Schultz for her doc about the ‘New’ Dance Group which existed here in the 1940’s.

Last night we all (4 pairs and our teacher Owen Scott) had a salsa lesson then watched ‘Dancing with the Stars’ finale. An interesting cultural experience. Ballroom is so camp isn’t it? They know it too. The big jazz dance number Candy and the group performed at the end was sooo OTT, but it worked because they brought out Rodney Hide – which tipped it into farce and therefore it worked. A man transformed by dance, a politician dancing on nationwide TV – only in NZ!

My favourite was Miriama – the actress – but all the amateurs had their individual strengths, even if it was only to have the courage to give it a go – well done to the blokes especially!

Dancer’s Babies, Mirror Me, Senior College

1 04 2008

Mirror MeMaaka, proud Dadhe\'s sooo cuteJustine and baby amorangi 

Back in Auckland after a great Easter weekend in Nelson – and get a text from Dolina with the news Justine and Maaka are the proud parents of a baby boy – Amorangi Murphy born on the 27th March weighing 7 pounds, 15 ozs. And they were married in Hawaii recently.

Maaka and Justine danced with us in Auckland Dance Co – Justine was / is a gorgeous dancer and was in the company the whole 7 yrs of ADC’s existence and Maaka met Justine through dancing with us as well so I have a certain sense of responsibility for their relationship.

That’s the thing when you run dance companies. People’s lives are changed because you hire them, they change cities or direction for you and the repercussions are life long.

Went to see the opening of Shona MccCullagh’s Mirror Me installation at the Moving Image Centre Gallery last Friday. Fascinating.

The interractive aspect was delightful – Frances’ (GM of Tempo) children, Alex and Kate ( 7 and 9 yrs) loved it. We hope to have it on at Tempo 08 somewhere as it is such an innovative exploration of dance and technology combined with an accessibility which is also really important in my view.

I found her short film “Mondo Nuovo” hypnotic and the installation with smashed mirrors particularly satisfying -something about smashed mirrors?

Went to a Senior College show on Saturday night. Taane Mete invited Liz Kirk and I to see their show called ‘The Player Project’. It was a very well produced show on at the B Side theatre (little Maidment).

Taane choreographed 3 pieces in the show and I thought they were great. He used the basic Contact Improvisation vocabulary mainly and it suited them well. Especially the guys as they had very little technical training and contact improv is well designed for people like that. All the dancers looked good doing the work and I thought Taane gave it a freshness of context and perspective which made it accessible to the audience but not predictable. Maylee Allen also choreographed 3 tap dance numbers. They were A Capella (without music accompaniment) and were witty, clever and entertaining. Hoping they can perhaps perform all these dance numbers in Tempo in October?