Just over a week away from the world premiere of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) Ryman Healthcare season Cinderella, The recently reopened St James Theater in Wellington has undergone a Fairy Godmother-style makeover.
Shiny new, bespoke animations on the facade of The St James will light up the building for two weeks from tonight (Tuesday 26th July), bringing some RNZB sparkle back to Courtenay Place.
The entertainment is a partnership between RNZB, Wellington City Council and two Wellington creative companies, Click Suite and Streamliner, and celebrates the national company’s return to its Wellington home in the St James.
The St James is the creative base of the RNZB where they create and perform the productions which tour the country. The glorious and brand new production of Cinderellacreated by the dream team of choreographer Loughlan Prior and composer Claire Cowan, opens August 3 at The St James before setting off on the company’s first national tour in over a year – to Auckland, Christchurch, Napier and Dunedin.
The animations were created by the digital agency of the RNZB Click Suite by incorporating video footage of RNZB dancers with bespoke animations, 3D modeling and special effects. All of this was animated in a life-size template of the building which was created by drone-mapping by Streamliner.
Six projectors were used for the 15m video animation – the entire facade of the St James – in which Cinderella the characters seem to be in the building and respond to each other. It includes Cinderella played by Mayu Tanigaito, the stepsisters played by Kirby Selchow and Sara Garbowski, Prince Charming played by Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Prince Dashing played by Shae Berney, and the Fairy Godmother played by Kate Kadow. The glass slippers have been replaced with a row of colorful dance pointe shoes.
Entertainment will be live until Cinderella’s Carriage leaves town on Sunday, August 7.
RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker said: “We love that this creative celebration puts ballet dancers in the heart of Wellington, on a grand scale, reinforcing RNZB’s commitment and love to this city.”
Gisella Carr, Head of Creative Capital at Wellington City Council, said: “Te Whanganui-a-Tara is very proud to be home to the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The resident ballet theaters are iconic across the world – the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House in London and the Palais Garnier at the Paris Opera Ballet are examples. It’s exciting that digital technology allows us to bring ballet from inside the St James to the street to delight dance-goers and regulars alike at Courtenay Place. We plan to do a lot more to add life and interest to our streets.
“For this enchanting, local celebration, we are also showcasing the work of two of the companies driving Wellington’s much-loved creative tech sector. This projection is a superb example of innovation designed for and about Wellington, by Wellingtonians. We can’t wait to see locals and visitors to the city embrace our beloved St James, and the RNZB once again light up his home scene.
Click Suite Director Emily Loughnan says: “I think we really captured the characters in the show; the stepsisters, in particular, had fun exaggerating with animations. We had a crazy day of filming with everyone from the dancers to the film crew contributing wonderful ideas – who knew you could serve someone a cup of tea on a lower floor? It’s one of those jobs where you start not knowing exactly where you’ll end up – historically, that’s always been where our best work comes from; that leap of faith fueled by creativity and a hairy deadline. Hope we had some great street level entertainment and made the great St James proud.
RNZB Executive Director Lester McGrath says: “We extend our heartfelt thanks to the many generous funders and partners who have supported our St James Theater fundraising campaign – helping us raise over $4 million – and the continued support of Wellington City Council, in particular for this brilliantly innovative celebration. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our home and, with ongoing construction, returning to our permanent studios, costume shop and other facilities over the coming months.
Fiery, funny and fabulous, Cinderellacommissioned by Patricia Barker for the RNZB following the fabulous success of 2019 Hansel and Gretel, is the brainchild of award-winning ballet storyteller Prior, with a magical new score by Cowan and cutting-edge designs by San Francisco-based Australian designer Emma Kingsbury. Ups, downs, fairy tale endings and happy times pour from the stage in all shades of the rainbow, with dances and storytelling that will bring joy to young people. – and young at heart.
The show opens August 3-6 at the St James Theatre, but audiences better be quick as tickets are dancing at the door.