#78: Dancing In The USA

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Edge Message #78 from Brian Sweeney, producer NZEDGE.COM


America is my second favourite country to be in. It both magnetizes and repels through its dichotomies of excellence and excess, creativity and craziness, invincibility and vulnerability, scale and insularity. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath has people in America reeling in a multitude of ways. Outcomes will run deep, wide and unexpected. This is meaningful for NZ because our relationship with America has some profound edges flowing into the past, present and future. Just as we look at the USA and see opportunity, America needs NZ in some unusually strategic ways. The relationship cannot be reduced to slogans and clichés by either country. We have much to build together, which is why two NZ initiatives in America being launched today have much significance – New Zealand magazine throughout the USA, and Black Grace in New York.

Walk into your local Barnes & Noble or Borders store today and ask for New Zealand magazine. The product of the heart and head of Auckland-based American Kiwi Marty Behrens, New Zealand magazine presents an intelligent and sophisticated view of this country to North Americans in a whole new way. Part travel guide, cultural journal and pleasure-seeker’s handbook, the magazine revels in qualities that make New Zealand unique, and digs deeper into what makes New Zealand so attractive to Americans and Canadians. The inaugural issue features the “emerging super-city” (that’s Auckland); Richard Taylor and the wonders of Weta; Joe Bennett on the bach; Graham Scott and David Teece on the implications of the radical economic reforms in New Zealand from 1985; a visit to Waipara’s wine and culinary delights; Michael Campbell; Wearable Arts; Maori Asparagus; Koru design…check out www.nzmag.com to subscribe and if you’re stateside go to your nearest quality magazine store.

From this Friday, September 16 for three weeks, New Yorkers will have the chance to revel in the performances of Auckland’s seven-member powerhouse of Pacific Island and Maori dance, Black Grace, as they stomp, soar and tumble through fierce choreography that fuses contemporary styles with traditional island dance forms. Black Grace will light-up the New Victory Theater following an outstanding return season at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. “Never before has this reviewer seen a group of male dancers who seemed so gentle yet breathtakingly virile,” raved Boston Globe correspondent Karen Campbell. “The NZ-based all-male troupe can rock the house with thundering stomps, macho body slaps in syncopated rhythms, and acrobatics that send the dancers crashing into one another. Yet they can just as convincingly sing in sweet three-part harmony, accompanying their vocals with gestures that softly curve and dip.” Go boys! Tickets for Black Grace can be ordered by visiting Telecharge.com or by calling 212.239.6200. Tickets are also on sale at the New Victory box office (209 West 42nd Street, just west of Broadway).

Said E.A Montague of the Manchester Guardian of the 1500 metres final at the 1936 Berlin Olympics presided over by an ascendant Fuehrer: “It was a race magnificent beyond all description …There never was such a run nor such a runner.” The commentator, Harold Abrahams famously, lost his BBC poise and broke every broadcasting rule: “Lovelock leads! Lovelock! Lovelock! Cunningham second, Beccali third. Come on, Jack! A hundred yards to go! Come on, Jack!! My God, he’s done it. Jack, come on! … Lovelock wins. Five yards, six yards, he wins. He’s won. Hooray!!” Writers searched for phrases to describe Lovelock’s genius: his alluring mix of frail grace with the sudden destructive strike; floating power delivered with a devastating secret sprint. Afterwards he was exultant. It was not merely the race of a season, but the race of a lifetime. Lovelock meticulously kept a diary and in the entry of day of the race, he recorded, in a moment of rare flamboyance: “It was undoubtedly the most beautifully executed race of my career, a true climax to 8 years of steady work, an artistic creation.”

nzedge’s editor-at-large Paul Ward re-stokes our Edge Heroes selection with a 2,500 word essay on the life and triumphs of Jack Lovelock, born in Crushington, near Reefton on the West Coast of the South Island, in 1910. The story carries the best collection of Lovelock-in-action pictures gathered anywhere on the web. /jack-lovelock/

I was asked by Dorenda Britten to write an article about New Zealand design heroes for her designindustry site. Pressed for time, I did the only sensible thing I could and wrote a list. There are few “designers” on the list; what they all share is an edge aesthetic that for me is what design is all about. Edge is about how the periphery influences the centre by way of new ideas, new forms and new aesthetics. Beautiful global ideas and performance achievements laced with edge. My New Zealand design heroes are a broad group of innovators who inspire the view that creativity, originality and performance are embedded in our culture. Here are just over 100 people from both our history and contemporary life who in their own ways have been world-changing. Cheers to Ian Axford, Clarence Beeby, Marie Clay, Geoffrey Cox, Bruce Farr, Bill Hamilton, Bill Gallagher, Vaughan Jones, David Low, Len Lye, Margaret Mahy, Rosalie Gascoigne, Fred Hollows, Ivan Mauger, Kiri, Bill Phillips, Ronald Syme, Titokowaru, Robert Webster, Yvette Williams and company. https://www.nzedge.com/new-zealand-legends/

Stories from the wires at News

• All Black’s bring home Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cups
• Four golds for NZ Rowing team at World Champs
• NZ voted “best country in the world” – Conde Nast
• Black Grace encore at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
• Toi Maori exhibition in San Francisco
• Canterbury sportswear enters the US market
• The modernist homes of architect David Hovey
• Pink Floyd Experience causes South African frenzy
• Fox buys Touchdown’s Reality TV programs
• Long White Cloud has silver lining for Britons

Kevin Roberts’ Rugby Postcard: KR teams up with Moffo aka rugby CEO extraordinaire David Moffett in St Tropez to scheme the Grand Slam All Blacks vs Wales test in Cardiff on November 5. “The Millennium Stadium is already sold out with a record 74,500 spectators assured. The game will celebrate 100 years of Test Rugby between the two nations since that slow-moving referee disallowed Deans’ try from a distance of 20 metres. Oh, for video replays.”

Maori and Pacific Island art and culture take centre stage at the University of Cambridge from April 2006 with the launch of the Pasifika Styles project. A major exhibition showcasing the work of young New Zealand artists will feature alongside one of the largest collections of Pacific artefacts in the United Kingdom. The project runs for over a year and involves artist-led workshops, talks, performances and a major festival of Pacific performing arts.

We have added new sites to our Links page:

• The New Zealand Institute: think-tank for big NZ solutions
• Leaf Salon: forum for NZ book news, reviews and events
• Public Address: nz blog-central with Hard News, Cracker
• NZ Wikipedia: citizen encyclopedia full of detail and delight
• Te Ara: official encyclopedia, a journey through ourselves
• The Big Idea: online community for NZ creative industry
• Spacific: Aotearoa music/culture collective from the UK

Check out the Circa Theatre production in Wellington of one of our original nzedge Heroes, cosmologist Beatrice Tinsley. “A moving and fascinating story about the clash between love and ambition. One of the most creative and significant theoreticians in modern astronomy, her work profoundly affected what scientists know about the origin and size of the universe. But in the male dominated astronomical establishment of the 1960s and 70s Beatrice had to struggle against the accepted wisdom to prove that the universe is open, not closed. She proved to be right – but her success came at a great personal cost.” By Stuart Hoar, directed by Susan Wilson.

Have a big Saturday night.


Producer, The New Zealand Edge


Thumbnail: Black Grace, New York Times

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