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In May we head off on a month-long, five-city tour with the Royal New Zealand Ballet to perform on stage once again in Alexander Ekman’s Cacti. You may have seen Cacti in the RNZB’s Speed of Light tour last year where it captivated audiences with its “cheeky effervescence, irrepressible energy and beguiling wit” (NZ Herald). Intermingling with the dancers on stage while improvising and playing excerpts from string quartets by Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert was a whole new experience for us, perhaps best summed up by Alexander Ekman himself, who described it as “...a game between dancers and musicians, a game which would become a composition.”
This year’s RNZB tour of Cacti teams the work up with two other Ekman ballets, Tuplet and Episode 31, under the touring title Three by Ekman. If you missed seeing Cacti the first time, here’s your chance to catch it in 2017. And if you enjoyed as much as the critics did, then you’ll have the chance to see more by this ground-breaking Swedish choreographer.
All three works showcase the hallmarks of Ekman’s style: exuberant and complex rhythms in which the dancers are at one with the music; a deep pleasure in the human interactions of dance; and witty, stylish staging. Tuplet, for just six dancers, is the most intimate of the three works, riffing off the split-second precision of contemporary ballet dancers at the top of their game. Episode 31 is larger in scale, a torrent of youthful vigour harnessing the energy of New York City. Cacti (2010) brings it all together, combining hilarious insights into the dancers’ innermost thoughts with a mesmerising musicality.