Dance DVDs – From ballet to hip-hop, dancing is infectious

You may have already watched David LaChapelle’s video of Ukrainian dancer Sergei Polunin’s  cover of Hozier’s “Take me to Church”

or Mikhail Baryshnikov & Lil Buck in the Rag & Bone fashion shoot,

or more recently, Maori performing arts group Tāreikura’s poi dancing on Beyoncé’s “Move your Body” videos. These are three examples of dance videos that went viral online.

For more Dance news, follow the excellent Guardian Dance blog.

You may have also been to one of our Central Library’s Tales from the Ballet sessions with Royal New Zealand Ballet legend Sir Jon Trimmer.

RNZBIf you haven’t yet, come to this Saturday morning’s session at the Central Library  or head to Karori, Kilbirnie or Johnsonville library next week for a chance to learn about ballet steps and positions – and to try them out – explore the art of mime and gesture, and hear some of the wonderful stories of the world’s greatest ballets, from an icon of New Zealand dance who has performed them all.

Inspired? You may want to head to the New Zealand School of Dance Open Day on Saturday 25 July and Sunday 26 July 2015 at 10am.

Developed a dance addiction yet? To delve further into the fascinating world of dance, check out our extensive DVD collection of dance movies of all genres, documentaries about dance and dance performers and our music DVDs of famous ballets and dance musicals. These films will make you want to move, beating the winter chill in the process.

Syndetics book coverLife in motion : an unlikely ballerina – Misty Copeland
“As the only African American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground breaking ballerina.” (Cover)
This documentary is particularly timely as Misty Copeland just became the first African-American woman to be named a Principal in the 75-year history of American Ballet Theater.

Syndetics book coverBudding stars of the Paris Opera ballet
“The Paris Opera Ballet School, established 300 years ago, is a legendary place, with an international reputation. It is the most famous dance school in the world, where the greatest “ťoiles” or principal dancers are trained. In September 2011 it was home to 130 students, aged from 8 to 18, all driven by the same desire – to dance one day at the Paris Opera. A film crew was allowed to accompany them for a whole school year and this six-part series chronicles their busy training schedule and their day to day experiences. There is no assurance that all the students will return the following year to dance alongside the stars they dream of. As well as adjusting to living away from their families, to remain in the school they must also learn to deal with criticism, adhere to strict requirements and discipline, and learn personal responsibility.” (Cover)

untitledMao’s last dancer
“Drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao’s cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverLa danse, the Paris Opera ballet
“Follows the rehearsals and performances of seven ballets: Genus by Wayne McGregor, Medea by Angelin Preljocaj, The House of Bernarda Alba by Mats Ek, Paquita by Pierre Lacotte, The Nutcracker by Rudolph Nureyev, Orpheus and Eurydice by Pina Bausch, and Romeo and Juliet by Sasha Waltz. The film shows the work involved in administering the company and the coordinated and collaborative work of choreographers, ballet masters, dancers, musicians, and costume, set, and lighting designers.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverPina
This film written, directed and produced by Wim Wenders depicts the life and work of Pina Bausch, dancer and choreographer, who died in 2009 which features some of her greatest choreographies as performed by her Tanztheater Wuppertal ensemble. (Adapted from Syndetics)

6First position
First Position follows the inspirational footsteps of a group of young talented ballet dancers aged nine to sixteen as they struggle to maintain form in the face of injury and personal sacrifice on their way to one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world: the Youth America Grand Prix. Lifelong dreams are at stake, with hundreds of dancers from around the globe travelling to New York each year, competing for a handful of elite scholarships and contracts. Practice and discipline are paramount, and nothing short of perfection is expected. Struggling through bruised feet and near exhaustion all while navigating the drama of adolescence and family life, First Position combines built-in drama, tension and suspense with exciting and beautifully shot performances. With the diversity of each dancer’s backstory coupled with a showcase of awe-inspiring talent, tenacity and passion, First Position recalls documentaries such as Spellbound in painting a thrilling and moving portrait.” (Fishpond)

Continue reading “Dance DVDs – From ballet to hip-hop, dancing is infectious”

From the Renaissance to Contemporary Dance

This month a couple of unexpected items plus some classics and a bit of Broadway: from Richter to Pet Shop Boys

Cover imageNaked Byrd. Two [sound recording].
“This splendid second volume in the Armonico Consort’s Naked Byrd series continues the punning tradition of a cappella versions of choral pieces by composers who, in the words of the Consort’s artistic director Christopher Monks, “wore their hearts on their sleeves”. Thus alongside the familiar repertoire of period religious works ranging from William Byrd to Hildegard of Bingen can be found more recent compositions by John Tavener and the Consort’s own Jonathan Roberts, both of whom contribute moving pieces based around texts by William Blake. But perhaps most moving of all is the “Agnes Dei” section of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, re-scored by the composer for eight-part harmonies. –The Independent” (Summary from

Syndetics book coverThe Reich’s orchestra : the Berlin Philharmonic 1933-1945 / Misha Aster.
“There has never been a book written on the subject of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Third Reich, in any language. The historiography is scant, and strewn with rumours and misinformation. This book represents the first comprehensive study of the relationship between Hitler’s regime and its musical crown jewel. The Nazi regime’s patronage afforded the Berlin Philharmonic innumerable privileges unique among German cultural institutions.” (Summary from

Cover imageThe Italian intermezzo [sound recording] : music without words.
“Delivered here with sensitivity and freshness by the BBC Phil’ under Gianandrea Noseada,who approaches each item with relish and stylistic certainty that makes you sit up and listen.The playing,also, is the equivelent of what one might hear in a major opera house,and a good night too. Performance **** Recording **** –BBC Music Magazine,Mar’11” (Summary from

Syndetics book coverFinishing the hat : the collected lyrics of Stephen Sondheim with attendant comments, principles, heresies, grudges, whines and anecdotes / Stephen Sondheim.
“The winner of seven Tonys, seven Grammys, an Oscar, and a Pulitzer Prize, Stephen Sondheim has become synonymous with the best in musical theatre. Now, in Finishing the Hat, he has not only collected his lyrics for the first time, he’s giving readers a rare, personal look into his extraordinary shows and life.Along with the lyrics, both published and unpublished, for all of his productions from 1954 to 1981….” (Summary from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSviatoslav Richter : pianist / Karl Aage Rasmussen ; translated by Russell Dees.
“Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997) is widely recognized as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. In this translation of the first full-scale biography of Richter, Danish composer Karl Aage Rasmussen combines his artistic appreciation of Richter’s career with a sympathetic telling of the pianist’s life based on family archives and interviews with people who worked and lived with him.” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe most incredible thing [sound recording] / Pet Shop Boys.
“Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (AKA Pet Shop Boys) write the music for their first ever full-length ballet. The Most Incredible Thing is a collaboration with choreographer Javier De Frutos and Britain’s leading contemporary dance theatre, Sadler’s Wells. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story of the same title.” (Summary from Syndetics)