NZSQ on stage with the Royal New Zealand Ballet

24 February 2016 / News

It’s not often that members of a string quartet are asked to memorise their scores and become an integral part of a choreographed dance work, but that’s exactly what our quartet players have been preparing to do in advance of four special performances with the Royal New Zealand Ballet in February and March.

Alexander Ekman's Cacti took the dance world by storm following its premiere in 2010 and has since been performed by 18 dance companies around the world. As the Swedish choreographer explains in this interview on RNZ Concert’s Upbeat, it hasn’t always been easy to find a string quartet that is up for the challenge of performing on stage. On this occasion, though, he wasn’t disappointed: “They [NZSQ] are wonderful – I met them early on in the process… which made it easier for them to prepare.”

The NZSQ will play excerpts of string quartets by Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert - the central theme is the Presto from Schubert’s Death and the Maiden - both accompanying and collaborating with the dancers. Ekman explains “I wanted to create a game between dancers and musicians, a game which would become a composition.”   

Ekman describes the work as a discussion on arts criticism, and says it was created at a time when he was feeling the frustration of dealing with often hurtful reviews. A critic writing in The Australian happily redresses that balance: “Cacti is a delight: witty, effervescent, playful, surreal and joyously physical.” 

Cacti is one of three works in the RNZB’s Speed of Light' season which will be featured in the NZ Festival and Auckland Arts Festival, and also tours to Christchurch and Dunedin.

For information about how to book, click here.

Reviews from the Wellington Season

"The music by Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert was mellifluously played live on stage by the brilliant New Zealand String Quartet – what a bonus!"
Ann Hunt,

"The New Zealand String Quartet is live on stage and intermingles impressively with the large group of dancers, as they play beautiful excerpts and fragments of Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert."
Jennifer Shennan, Theatreview

Alexander Ekman's Cacti. Image courtesy of NDT2, photograph by Rahi Rezvani.

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