November 25, 2013

Bikram Yoga - Yoga Without Soul

Bikram Yoga is the McDonalds of yoga. No matter where in the world you go, Bikram Yoga uses the same script, the same moves, the same set up as every other studio.

Bikram Yoga has been sanitised and stripped down to the bare bones, it is devoid of the spirituality usually associated with Yoga. There is no music or ambience, it is definitely not relaxing. Bikram Yoga is hot and hard.

The instructor speaks to you like a horse race announcer, fast paced and sometimes rather  harshly. You are told how to get into postures but the only example you see is from the students in front. Occasionally an instructor will correct your posture or personalise the script slightly which makes for a refreshing change.

You are not supposed to drink any water until after the first three postures. You can then drink at will but are encouraged to only drink between postures and to not distract other students (by drinking too overtly I assume). This is a bit of a concern as exercising for 90 minutes in 40 degree heat causes a person to sweat considerably and can result in dehydration if that water is not replaced in sufficient quantities. To minimise dehydration I would advise drinking plenty of fluids both prior and following a class. It is also advisable not to consume dehydrating liquids such as coffee or alcohol a few hours before or after class.

In other forms of yoga (Yin Yoga for example) you are encouraged to hold postures and explore your inner depths (soul, spirit, whatever you choose to call it). Not Bikram Yoga; you barely have time to drink a sip of water between poses. They do, however, give you a two minute savasana between the standing series and floor series and then 20 second savasana between each posture following but these rest periods only just give you time to catch your breath, certainly not time to reflect or even think about your soul/spirit/body connection.

Bikram yoga also has the highest incidence of injuries of all types of yoga. This is probably due to students pushing too hard (you are actively encouraged to push hard and told that it is supposed to hurt).

Despite the cons (and there are many) there are also pros. It is reassuring to know that you can go anywhere in the world and be familiar with the pattern of the Bikram yoga class. You may not know the language of instruction but if you have been a student before you will know the format. The format is the same for beginners as it is for advanced students; the only difference is that you are able to go more deeply into postures as your flexibility and strength improve.

Bikram Yoga does increase your flexibility, strength and general fitness. After you’ve showered and cooled off you feel great, if a little drained. You can attend as often or as little as you like, the format will remain the same so your progress is only measured by how intensely you can go into the postures.

My advice to people wanting to try Bikram Yoga is be prepared for a challenging 90 minutes; drink plenty of water before, during and after. Avoid alcohol and coffee for at least 12 hours either side of the class and take it easy, be aware of your body’s limitations and don’t push too hard, especially on your first few classes and until you feel confident with the postures and know how your body feels after a class.

If you’re thinking about trying yoga for its spirituality and/or to connect more deeply with your soul, try another form of yoga, at least initially.

November 18, 2013

Weight Loss: Retreat

Rest assured I am not retreating (whenever I hear retreat I picture a miliatary man screaming "retreat!") but I did expereince a little retreat from my every day life. Quite some time ago now I realised that losing weight isn’t just a physical process. There was a lot of emotion tied up in my weight gain that I needed to release for my body to then release some of the excess weight.

I serendipitously stumbled across Harmony Hours just out of Hamilton; a peaceful place to do some healing and introspection. I stayed for two days which included my own personal space, food and a spa on the balcony.

The food was amazing; all homemade, organic, and mostly homegrown as well, I ate a lot of it. It reminded me of how food used to be, there was something real about this. Each meal was an experience; we sat at the table, ate and talked together. There was no prepackaged food eaten on the go. The pace of life here, the emphasis on what was really important was a marked difference from my regular life.

Chrystene is a peaceful, open, considerate, genuine person. I am unaccustomed to someone being so free with who they are and sharing themselves with me.

I had one Journey process, two similar sort of processes focussed on labels and rules and a healing session which was, admittedly, a little weird. In addition I was lucky enough to be staying on a night when weekly meditation was held.

My stay at Harmony Hours has had a profound effect on my life, on how I view myself, how I treat myself and how I view and treat food.

Price: varies (see packages here)
Weight loss: 1kg

Special thanks to: the wonderful Julia from Kiwi Pole Fitness and of course Chrystene at Harmony Hours

November 16, 2013

Suva - the smelly capital

I’ll admit Suva is only the second capital city I have been to so I don’t have much to compare it to but I found it to be hot, smelly and noisy.

As you approach Suva by Queens’ Road the first thing you see is the cemetery. Fijians decorate newly filled graves with bright material and painted rocks which give a feeling of the depth of love and respect they have for the deceased. Older graves are mostly concrete cairns.

The first building of significance is the Suva prison which looks like a prison straight out of the movies, complete with high concrete fence, barbed wire and old dilapidated concrete buildings with watch towers. Ironically Vodafone is advertised at each end of the high concrete fence; maybe prisoners get special phone deals?

As you approach the centre of the city the noise and smell amplify. There is the port on the right, a hive of activity, industry and pungent with the odour of fish. The city centre has many shops and markets most of which are dark and dank but there are a few streets with chain stores and bright window displays. You can buy all the cheap Asian goods that are proliferating in NZ, they add their own toxic plastic odour which seeps out onto the street. There are security guards at most shops, permeating a feeling of distrust and ill ease.

We went down to the waterfront in search of souvenirs and located the market which consists of a building with cage like stalls that sell the same wares, each one replete with a very persuasive salesman inside. I always have trouble getting what I want from those sorts of places without feeling hustled.

We walked on to the ‘Peaceful Garden’ which has some lovely old trees, a non functioning water fountain and ramshackle unkempt garden areas. It looks like the British have been and gone (which is more or less true). Inside the garden is the Suva museum which is absolutely tragic. I have never seen a more pathetic museum. There are a few exhibits spread throughout several rooms in a dilapidated building. The only room that’s air conditioned is the museum store. At a cost of $7 per person I had hoped for something a bit more up-to-date and informative. I guess it’s not high on Mr Bainimarama’s to-do list.

Next to the Museum is the President’s residence (which can only be seen from a distance). It looks to be in far better repair than the museum and has two guards at its gate; one lucky fellow gets to stand out in the sun in full uniform including gloves; expressionless much like a beefeater.

Part of the noise and smell issue is the fact that there is only one main road so all the industrial traffic goes straight through the city centre. There are a couple of nice walkways that have been recently upgraded, giving a glimpse of what the city could look like with a bit of a face lift.

In contrast to the friendliness of the Fijian villages, the people of Suva seem indifferent at best and often quite surly. It is understandable; Suva is an assault on all the senses.

My advice to anyone planning a trip to Fiji, avoid Suva if you can!

November 8, 2013

La Figura - paintings by Escha van den Bogerd

La Figura is a series of nude paintings "inspired by the old masters in a contemporary unique style" by Dutch artist Escha van den Bogerd.

I attended the opening at CQ Hotel on Thursday night. The concept of the evening was meant to remind the audience of the origins of this sort of art; 17th Century Italian baroque music was to accompany the viewing. Unfortunately the music took some time to arrive / set up and I never got to hear it.

Art is subjective; these are my thoughts. I think more Rubenesque figures would have been more attrractive than the modern (thin) interpretation of the female form. The figures were slightly angular, a look which became more prominent in the breasts, in particular the nipples, which made it difficult to enjoy the images.
The use of colour was really interesting, as though they had been thrown at the canvas after the picture was painted, added another layer of depth. It reminded me of Pino Daeni though the colour is less obvious.  Look for a lying nude with cold blue splashes, it was my favourite.

Dates: 7-28 November
Venue: CQ Hotel Cuba Street and The Kiwi Art House Gallery 288 Cuba Street
Price: free to view, $2-3,000 to purchase

November 7, 2013

Anne Boleyn

Stagecraft continues it's great year with another well chosen and expertly staged piece of theatre. I don't think I have ever seen such consistently good productions.

The story of Anne Boleyn is well known so there should be no risk of spoilers. Who wants to see a play where ultimately the main character dies in such a horrible way? (Shakespearean plays aside) I was certainly reluctant. This play was not however, what I expected.

One person can change the course of history. But it's not as simple as you think. There are several candidates for this role aside from Anne. Issues of religion, politics and the role of women all come into play.

Ange Fitzharris as Anne and  Neil Connolly as James had particularly good accents. James so well in fact that his Scottish brogue was sometimes difficult to understand, it was funny to hear Billy Connelly's voice coming out of the mouth of a king (note the same surname!).

The actors maintained their own storylines even while in the background, whispering to each other. Little touches such as the facials of Chris O'Grady as Robert Cecil were fantastic.

Specially written to be performed in the Globe Theatre, Gryphon Theatre has been transformed to create a similar round stage. The actors directed comments to audience members and drew the crowd into the story, not a difficult task as the usual distance between stage and seating was gone. It was a unique take on theatre performance.

This wasn't the gloomy evening I expected. There was laughter and a breadth of history. 

Performances: 8pm Wednesday 6 - Saturday 9 and Thursday 14 - Saturday 16 November
3pm Sunday 10 November
6.30pm Tuesday 12 - Wednesday 13 November

Tickets: $20/22

October 14, 2013

Rob Schneider

I felt some trepidation prior to the show as Rob's acting, or at least the characters he portrays tend to irritate rather than amuse (with the exception of The Hot Chick which for some reason I find endearing) - I decided that he would either be awful or terribly funny. In the end he wasn't either. He did get laughs, he was funny but he wasn't hilarious.

For the price of the ticket ($70) I would have expected more. There was no warm up act and Rob himself was disappointing. He joked about the normal topics comedians use; age, the difference between the sexes etc. There were brief tries at trying to relate the material to the audience but no real local adaptations or friendly repartee. Frankly if we didn't have American television here most of his humour may have been lost. The show was over in an hour.

There wasn't any unique material or anything that lingered after the laugh was had. Sometimes the big name doesn't live up to the hype.

Rob Schneider was only in New Zealand for two shows; Wellington and Auckland. His tour continued on to Australia.

October 6, 2013


I thought it would be scary but it wasn't scary cos it would be scary and I would get scared but no it wasn't scary, it was funny. The bits when the monster kept coming out and making the funny noises and going "ah!" and when he tried to show Timmy how to swim and tried to tell him about the colossal squid it was funny. 

 - Jessica (age 7)

Tickets: $10
Performances: 30 September - 12 October, 11am (no performance Sunday)

October 2, 2013

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs

It was really good. I was really excited because the girl that did ballet at my birthday party she was going to be the Vixen. She could've been the vixen but she might not have been the Vixen because she only does it every second time. And she did beautiful dancing.

Snow White was really pretty and the dwarf Ticklish was really funny. The cat was quite small and quiet and she was meowing most of the time. And I liked the Queen she was very beautiful as well as Snow White but Snow White was prettier and I liked the Queen because she kept changing herself. She was a young lady, then a old woman then she couldn't get back so she shut herself in a dark castle which she was going to do to the huntsmen but she did it to herself. Snow White was very nice and I'm glad she came back to life because there would've been no prettiest person because the Queen she stayed old lady ugly.

 - Jessica (age 7)

Performances: 30 September-5 October, 11am and 2pm
Tickets: $10

September 30, 2013

The WOW Factor

The World of Wearable Arts has exploded all over Wellington but for those of you who can’t afford the $100 tickets you can check out some of the past winners (and placers) at Te Papa. To celebrate 25 years of WOW 25 items from past shows are currently on display at our national museum.

If you’ve been to a fashion exhibition at Te Papa before you’ll know how to find the Eyelights Gallery; if you haven’t, you’ll need to check for directions as it is tucked back behind the Slice of Heaven exhibition (which is also worth checking out). It’s a shame that there wasn't a grander gallery to hold the exhibition, it warrants more space for people to get a closer look and see all sides of the garments. At the entrance of the gallery is a piece that illustrates how detailed the works can be, there is something new at each angle which is missed when seen from the stage or a single sided glass enclosure.

There are videos playing with images from the shows which include pieces on display. Props and several performer costumes are shown alongside winning entries. The range of dates covers the whole life of the show including the very first winner, Wild Walker, which is more sedate than some of the later pieces.
Unlike the stage show this isn't flashy or terribly exciting, Te Papa could have made a much bigger song and dance about it. However, this is an unparalleled opportunity to get a good look at these amazing creations up close and personal.

Showing at Te Papa till 6 October.
Cost: free

Te Papa are talking about it on their blog
Also check out the Wow Window Dressing Competition in store windows around town. Go here to see which stores are involved. Te Papa are showing creations from local college students at their stores (not just at the museum, there’s one in Brandon Street too!).

The Pole Room - September

Another fabulously entertaining night of stunning pole performers took place at the new Fringe Bar located on Allen St, Courtney Place. As a veteran of these shows I can categorically state that they just keep getting better!

The Pole Room is a regular feature at the Fringe Bar; showcasing local Pole Dancers as well as Polers from around NZ and overseas. We were treated to performances by Ryoko Ibaraki and Michelle Kasey from Auckland as well as Douglas Jarrett from Pamerston North.

The shows’ theme was Dreamlands: Visions, Fairytales and Nightmares and this was expressed in a variety of captivating and skilfully executed performances.

The performances ranged from traditional fairy tales such as Snow White and Peter Pan through to modern horror characters such as The Corpse Bride and The White Witch. There was obviously a lot of time and attention paid to costume, choreography and music which made each routine very individual and held the audience’s attention throughout the show. It is exciting to see performers becoming more theatrical and creating a story with their routines, taking pole dancing to the next level.

MC Clever Hansel kept the show rolling along nicely, responding well to some light-hearted heckling and performing his own unique version of ‘Boylesque’. Liz Kirkman made for a convincing yet melodious ‘undead’ singer and Ernestine delighted with her belly dancing. Every pole performance was so individual and well crafted it is impossible to mention one above another. I can only hope we will see more appearances from them all in future Pole Rooms.

The new Fringe Bar provides a larger and slightly higher stage enabling the majority of the audience to get a better view. Room is still at a premium and you need to get there early in order to secure a good seat.

To all the performers; Ryoko Ibaraki, Kapi Huria, Michelle Kasey, Freya Devine, Jennifer Starrdust, Mei Chan, Rachael Palmer, Emma Humphrey, Katie Roberts, Douglas Jarrett, Lexi, Emzy Zajkowski, Ernestine, Liz Kirkman and Clever Hansel thank you for a wonderfully entertaining evening; your talent and skill never cease to amaze and inspire. To the creator and organiser of The Pole Room, Maree Prebensen, much gratitude to you for giving these talented people the opportunity to showcase their skills and provide us with consistently captivating evening’s entertainment!

Cost: $25
Date: 27 September 2013

September 8, 2013


Stagecraft continues to surprise me with the quality of their productions. They are not a group to rest on their laurels. Their script choices are excellent - each challenging in a new way. The God Boy was intense, Pride and Prejudice was funny (not as easy to achieve as you would think) and complex. Their new production, Proof manages to be funny, romantic and have a bit of a mystery thrown in there too.

Proof is a captivating play. I discovered that there is also a movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine. I watched part of the preview and it didn't compare to what I saw at Gryphon theatre. Hollywood has a tendency to over dramatise which makes theatre seem so much more real even though in theory it should seem more artificial. Having said that, I have the DVD and intend to watch it this week.

This play explores the thin line between genius and insanity. (I've always wondered whether the pressure of being a genius leads to insanity.) It brought to mind the story of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, I’m sure people could draw many comparisons. But this story touched me more than that movie, it was human (although, as I’ve already said, plays and movies are far apart). It focused on the daughter of the genius and how she may have inherited some of his gifts. Two major plot twists kept you guessing; one very early on and the other when the play seems to be drifting along, this second twist gives the plot an entirely new direction.

The actors all spike in American accents which came across as natural. Each actor was perfectly chosen for their role and had great chemistry with the other actors. I really felt the depression, the confusion and the hope that Catherine, portrayed excellently by Gabrielle Wright, experienced. Like her I also wanted to hit her sister. The performers made great use of a limited set but I noted several references in the script that seemed to indicate that some scenes were meant to be indoors. I loved the geeky t-shirts worn by the math nerd.

I identified with Catherine; I wanted Gabrielle’s hair which seemed to speak for the character itself but also her part made me feel guilty, wondering what I could have achieved with my potential had I not suffered from a mental illness. Sometimes being smart has its limitations.

This is a great play for anyone with a pushy sister, a close relationship with their father, and any geniuses or nerds out there. If you like Big Bang Theory you may find something in this play for you.

Performances: 5 -7 September 8 pm, 10 -11 6.30 pm, 12 - 14 8 pm
Tickets: $22

September 1, 2013

RCRD Game 3 2013: Brutal Pageant vs Comic Slams

The game on Saturday decided who would meet Smash Malice in the final game of the season; Brutal Pageant or Comic Slams. Seven Sharp were there to film, we don’t know when it will hit the screens - let us know if you do.

Comic Slams took an early lead with a series of power jams. Brutal Pageant frequented the penalty box throughout the game. As the official RCRD twitter said “Slams excellent control of the pack (is) forcing cutting penalties. (The) Pageant (penalty) box (is) full.”

Comic Slams featured Ella Kazam and J’Knee Dodgem, previously heavily used jammers, as blockers. They did an impressive job, mastering the art of locking their shoulder with an opposition player. This is a new technique being showcased this season. Jammer Anna Pave-U’Ova unfortunately didn’t shine as much as she did in the game against Melbourne. Brutal Pageant surprisingly chose Meat Train to jam several times, possibly hoping to put her great blocking skills to work on getting through the pack.  Pageant heavily featured Princess Slayer as jammer, but thankfully gave her some pack time this bout as she has the skills there too.

The half time show was excruciating; then became hazardous when ZM representatives hurled chocolate and mens moisturiser into the crowd. Safety standards dictated that those sitting on the balconies had to miss out. But, most exciting (!) was the announcement that there will be a workshop for kids ages 8-15 to learn the basics of low contact derby. You can contact The Skate Collective for more information.

Our picks for Most Valuable Player are J’Knee Dodgem for Comic Slams and Beatrix Skiddo for Brutal Pageant. Richter City awarded MVP to Bubble O' Kill for Brutal Pageant and Ma Whero Mischief for Comic Slams.

This was the second time I’ve seen the scoreboard unable to handle the scores ie. a team scored over 200. The official final score was 215-114 to Comic Slams who will be facing off against Smash Malice in the season final 2 November.

But before that is the second national tournament, Derby Royale, in Palmerston North over Labour Weekend. If you haven’t made plans for the long weekend yet, 16 teams are set to attend to battle it out. Check their Facebook for details.

August 28, 2013

Weight loss: Cavitaton

Often advertised as a non-surgical alternative to liposuction (which I discovered in my research isn't really meant for weight loss but for body shape) Cavitation is a costly but perhaps effective treatment which can be provided by a beauty therapist. It is also known as cavi-lipo.

The treatment occurs in two parts, each using a laser. The chosen area of your body is coated in gel, incidentally the same gel used for ultrasound. At a very basic level the first laser is meant to shake up your fat cells and the second laser heats them so they “melt.” The melted fat is then processed by your body. The first laser creates an uncomfortable screeching in your head which disappears as soon as it is no longer touching your skin.

I read up on Cavitation after I had completed my series of treatments. I discovered that it is recommended to drink water beforehand and exercise for half an hour afterwards. These practices have led critics to claim that any loss of weight or size are due to these factors. I'm glad that I didn't know about these recommendations so my results stand out as purely a result of the treatment. The number of recommended treatments in a series varies (3-12) as does the time between treatments. It is generally agreed that 72 hours is required for your body to process the fat but therapists interpret that differently; some say it should be every three days, some only once a week. I had five treatments at intervals of three days. Contraindications also vary; it’s fine for the neck and breast or it isn’t.

Although it is not advertised as a weight loss procedure I found that it worked as such for me. It wasn't immediately apparent but I did eventually lose 3kgs. However, my weight loss may be due to continuing health eating on my part and reduction of weight retaining medication.

So, did it really work? What do you think?

Coming up:
- I finally did The Journey retreat
- (and later) More weight loss treatments

Cost: varies
Weight loss: 3kgs

Special thanks to: Kiwi Pole Fitness

August 21, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

There are those who will see this film because of Joss Whedon's involvement. His stamp is all over this project; director, producer, script writer, musical composer and I'd say he had a big hand in casting as well. Whedon alumni make up the bulk of the actors, almost every face was recognisable. Look out for Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle) playing an actual police officer, a role which may have been chosen for him with his Castle experience in mind. Joss also contributed location scouting by filming the entirety at his home over 12 days. Of course Joss had the immortal words of Shakespeare to work with but somehow managed to make them sound like his own - both writers have a talent for witty banter.

Joss aside (if we dare do such a thing) the movie has merit on its own. Who doesn't love Shakespeare? Well, perhaps every English student ever. I predict English teachers will use this film to teach Shakespeare as the modern setting and way the actors talk makes it much easier to understand than traditional productions. Some actors handled the dialogue better than others. I found it difficult at first but once I stopped actively trying my mind translated the Shakespearean language. Likewise I easily acclimatised to the lack of colour, this is no old black and white movie, the differentiations in light are so crisp it is as if there were colour.

There was almost a dreamlike quality to the way the screen would fade to black at certain points and then fade back in. Were I more of a Shakespearean scholar I might be able to tell you whether these were the end of scenes from the play. I noted two changes of shot within a scene that were jarring - the camera angle didn't change at all but it was obviously a cut from one take to another. My only other gripe is that ill fitting costumes make Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher (Firefly) look larger than they are. I suppose filming being condensed into such a short period it is surprising that there are only these instances.

And most exciting (for me at least) is I figured out my two degrees to Joss Whedon. Go with someone who loves Joss's work as much as you do and enjoy trying to outdo each other picking where you recognise the actors from or take your English teacher...well, maybe just mention it to them.

I caught an early viewing of Much Ado About Nothing at the Embassy theatre thanks to the New Zealand International Film Festival. I held off on writing this review as I thought it would be more timely to post it just before the general release. Much Ado About Nothing is set for general release in New Zealand tomorrow (22 August) and will be showing at Event Cinemas.

Did you know that the Royal New Zealand Ballet's Giselle was also part of the Film Festival and is now showing in theatres throughout the country?

August 17, 2013

Warhol: Immortal

Did you know that the oft quoted 15 minutes of fame maxim originated from Andy Warhol? I'd say he's had more than his share as he continues to influence art more than two decades after this death.

Our culture is so saturated in Warhol images that they have lost some of their impact in familiarity. These days anyone with a computer can create Warholesque pictures. I had thought that Wellingtonians would be out in force to take advantage of the locals offer on Thursday (thank you Te Papa for that) but there were certainly no crowds when I attended. I'm not sure whether we just don't care or if everyone that did had already seen it.

The show tracks Warhol's progress from young man who almost failed art school, to commercial artist through to portraitist to the stars. Although I don't like modern art I was interested by the range of mediums in which he dabbled. He mixed painting, photography and screen printing, but most surprising were the video and wallpapers (including a room with cow wallpaper and floating silver pillows). The strangest things were the Warhol skateboards available in the attached store.

I can see how at one time his art would have been controversial but now it strikes me as commonplace which validates the final line of the introduction to the exhibit. "He is Andy Warhol, and he transformed what art could be."

On now at Te Papa
Showing: 1 June-25 August
Price: $17.50 

August 11, 2013

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

When I think of Shakespeare I am often reminded of Black Adder (Rowan Atkinson) punching Colin Firth "for every school boy and school girl for the next 400 years." More English teachers should take their students to plays; traditional, adapted, modern and abridged. Shakespeare wrote 16 comedies but it hasn't felt like we are allowed to poke fun at him, not so anymore. The Triple-A Shortened Shakespeare Society (all named Andrew) and the Heretaunga Players are currently performing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).

In 90 minutes Andrews Watson, Elzenaar and Tait manage to cover everything Shakespeare wrote or was reported to write, although several only get a brief mention. The more well known plays Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and, Macbeth receive a more thorough examination.

Oh, but that makes it sounds horribly boring. I don't know how to describe the evenings entertainment without ruining the experience. Three actors portray every part which necessitates a quick change of costume, accent and props. There were a lot of props, so much so that the stage was littered with them at the end of the performance. Many devices are used including music (but not as you'd expect), sport (but not as you'd expect), conflict and, good old fashioned storytelling. The script has been adapted to the purpose making it feel as if the Andrews are just talking to the audience (like a trio of crazed uncles).

I think it's worth the drive to Upper Hutt which isn't really that far on the Motorway or, if you're vehicularly challenged, there's a train station at the end of the street (Wallaceville, not Heretaunga, which is weird).

Performances: 4pm: Sat 10-11th, 17th August
8pm: 8-10th, 14-17th August
Tickets: $20
Bookings: Expressions i-Site, 527 2168
Venue: The Studio, Ward Street Upper Hutt

Find out more about the Heretaunga Players on their website and Facebook group

July 20, 2013

60 Years of Royal New Zealand Ballet at The Film Archive

The New Zealand Film Archive is taking part in this weekends celebrations of 60 years of the Royal New Zealand ballet by showing a selection of their holdings relating to the company.

Last night I saw:
Our Stars of Ballet (1960)
Prismatic Variations (1960)
Petrouchka in Performance (1993)
50 Years On Their Toes (2003)

The first and the last were documentaries which I found the most enjoyable. Our Stars of Ballet is a charming production of the National Film Unit with surprisingly good quality images. 50 Years On Their Toes was about the 50th birthday of the company, their production of Romeo and Juliet and a bit about the history including fires and financial worries. The RNZB is certainly in a better place than they have been in previous years with government funding and a home in the beautiful St James Theatre which provides studio, office and performance space.

Prismatic Variations was the most difficult to watch. Not only was the film of poor quality but the choreography made the dancers movements wooden. Petrouchka was vibrant in itself and in contrast to the previous black and white films. The filming techniques made this easier to watch.

Tonight is the final show. The selection of films will be the same as last night. For more information check out the Film Archive website. If you want to see more, Giselle, the film based on the RNZB production of the same name, will be showing as part of the International Film Festival in August.

Shows: 17-20 July 7pm
Price: $8
Location: The Film Archive, Wellington

July 19, 2013

Swan Lake

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Thursday was the opening night of their 2013 production of Swan Lake and we are so lucky that they are touring the country (venues and dates below).

I always love going to the St James theatre as it has just beauty and history. It is one of the few venues that people dress to attend. As usual the staff were excellent, the food and wine over priced and the theatre itself so warm that I was happy to emerge into the winter air. Do dress up when you go but make sure you are wearing layers that can easily be removed.

Swan Lake is too well known for there to be spoilers.This is the not the first time that the Royal New Zealand Ballet has performed it, they first did excerpts in 1953. Nor is it the first time they have done so to Russell Kerr's choreography. The costuming, lighting and set help to make each time unique - it is wonderful what can be created with so little, the ripples of the lake from lights. I was amused that the pattern on the Prince's costume during the latter half of the show kept bringing to mind the Cheshire Cat.

You can't argue with Tchaikovsky's music, so beautiful and recognisable. I did find however, and I feel quite blasphemous writing this, that parts did drag. The villagers dance could be cut to one third, the court and swan dances cut each in half. I sighed audibly to the annoyance of those around me. I apologise, I feel guilty, it was so beautiful but I want storyline progression as well.

The principal ballerina was able to bend her body into almost impossible shapes with the help of her prince. Her movements as the black swan were so definitive as set apart completely from her other role. Perhaps the most overlooked character is the jester who not only dances very well but has to forget his ingrained training to move in ways that a ballet dancer has been taught not to. The loudest applause of the evening was reserved for the orchestra and then (with the added stamping of feet) the choreographer, Russell Kerr.

Other birthday celebrations include on open day tomorrow and recordings of performances at the Film Archive. And if you get in quick you can see the dancers warm up on stage tonight for just a gold coin donation.

Swan Lake (prices vary)

Wellington - St James Theatre, 18-27 July 2013
Dunedin - Regent Theatre, 30 July 2013
Christchurch - CBS Arena, 3 August 2013
Invercargill - Civic Theatre, 8 - 9 August 2013
Takapuna - Bruce Mason Centre, 17 - 18 August 2013
Auckland - The Civic, 21 - 25 August 2013
Palmerston North - Regent on Broadway, 28 August 2013
Napier - Napier Municipal Theatre, 31 August - 1 September 2013

July 14, 2013

Richter City Roller Derby All Stars vs Victorian Roller Derby Queen Bees

As of Saturday RCRD have completed their two bouts to become full WFTDA (Womens Flat Track Roller Derby Association) members. The first was against Aucklanders Pirate City Rollers in March and Saturday’s was against Melbourne’s Victorian Roller Derby Queen Bees. The two matches could not have been more different; VRDQB were victorious without completely beating RCRD.

Meat Train was the crowd favourite judging by the screams every time her name was mentioned. She played a great game and wore the most amazing anatomically correct muscle tights. Skanda Lass and Princess Slayer were the most frequent jammers, unfortunately that sometimes meant frequent visits to the penalty box too. I don’t know why Anna Pave-U’Ova isn’t in the team as she is stronger than some of the other players.

VRDQBs almost exclusively featured IVYKNIVEY and Tam-ba-lam SLAM as jammers. They were excellent jammers but seemed to tire easily, especially trying to get through the pack. There were a series of high scoring jams throughout the bout, including several power jams which kept Melbourne on top from early into the match. Richter City had the opportunity to learn a lot of strategy during this match, I hope they were paying attention.

I was impressed that Richter City continued to fight even when it was obvious they weren’t going to win. They put on an excellent game for the fans. The very last jam started with a timeout from RCRD to ensure the clock didn’t run out. The final score was VRDQB 255 to 182 RCRD.

The next RCRD game will be on Saturday 31 August – Brutal Pageant vs. Comic Slams

July 4, 2013

The Witches of Eastwick

Porirua Little Theatre's home is currently condemned so their performance of The Witches of Eastwick is in their pop-up home. I have never been to their usual home but if it's saved I hope to visit, the talent of their cast and production has convinced me.

I tired to read The Witches of Eastwick but a man writing about the experience of being a women didn't feel genuine to me. The stage production is a much less intimate portrait and funny too! I was pleasantly surprised that it was a musical and even more pleasant was the excellent singing (with the exception of one of the males who was occasionally flat). I got distracted thinking that some of those people should be on Broadway or actually injecting talent into one of those awful talent shows, easy to do when a couple of the songs were on the long side.

I found it difficult at first to accept Janelle Pollock as a woman in her 30's as the last role I saw her play a teenager! Katie Evans, her co-star from the same show, I only recognised from her photo in the programme as the costume and accent made her unrecognisable. I hope to see more from the other main actors; Eryn Street and David Bramwell-Cooke who respectively oozed innocence and sexuality. Look out for Tanisha Wardle who shines as busybody Felicia Gabriel, she fights it out with Janelle's sexy dance for best scene (you'll know which scenes I mean when you see them).

The scenery, including a projecting screen through which the audience could glimpse the musicians, created a New England town. I was impressed at the complexity. There were almost as many musicians as there were actors, they worked equally hard and well. The costumes were a time warp and included several ridiculous wigs, sadly they all stayed in situ during the dance numbers.

Director Stuart James (of Speakeasy Theatre) has bought the show together well, showing off the talents of his cast, crew and musicians all for the greater good of saving Porirua Little Theatre.

Performances: 19 June-13 July, 7.30pm (no shows Sunday-Tuesday)
Tickets: $24-26.50
You can visit Porirua Little Theatre on their website and Facebook.
Check out the Facebook support page Save Porirua Little Theatre

The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap was a bold choice for Hutt Repertory after the international show visited Wellington last year. It's an unfair comparison, of course the professional show was more polished but the Hutt Repetory's offering is very watchable and at a third the price. It has proved so popular that several of the performances are already close to full, get in quick if you want to see it!

Hutt Repertory regulars were in evidence; Graham Dack (Bloody Murder) was slightly too old for the part of Detective Trotter, Cherie McKay as Miss Casewell (Bloody Murder) and, Steve Falloon (An Ideal Husband) spoke in a very carrying voice while bouncing on his toes in his customary way as Major Metcalf. Mrs Boyle was played excellently by ex-Sacred Heart drama teacher Jean Maher. The accents employed were initially irritating. It is a shame that Chris Ingram (Christopher Wren), who looked nothing more than homeless, didn't attempt one. His portrayal of Chris was of a nervous person rather than the hyperactive / ADHD interpretation of the international show, I think it was a much better take on the character. He also had the ability to maintain his character, fidgeting in the corner, while he wasn't part of the scene something the other actors lacked. My final compliment to him is that he had such chemistry with Lian Potter (Molly Rolston) that it overshone the relationship between the married couple and made me want them to flirt.

It was a very traditional performance, there was no attempt to put their mark on the production by doing something different. Perhaps this is because Agatha Christie, and the play itself, are so well known that they are almost revered and treated as something not to be meddled with by lesser minds.

Quite a complicated set is called for; six exits including a window, an old English home with fire and radio, and space for eight characters to share the stage, the crew did an admirable job. The 'snow' outside the window had come unattached and flapped distractingly - unfortunately the cast forgot to be cold each time the window was open. The set layout is so specific that it was almost identical to the international show on a much smaller scale.

The Mousetrap is a theatric stalwart so if you love theatre and you haven't seen it yet get along to Theatre 108 by Epuni station, you won't be disappointed.

Tickets: $20
Performances: 3-13 July 8pm; 6, 7, 13 3pm

June 28, 2013

Pride and Prejudice

I wanted to start this review with "it is a truth universally acknowledged" and perhaps end it with "that a new adaptation of a good novel is always welcomed"... "that Jane Austen's popularity has not dimmed after 200 years"..."that Wellington...." I think you get the idea. Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen's most popular, and therefore also her most adapted novel. The latest adaptation is a local production by Stagecraft playing now at Gryphon Theatre.

The play highlighted the comedy of the source material which is often lost in the translation. Look out in particular for speed dating and chiming teacups. The script writers, who doubled as Miss Bingley and one of the directors, did an excellent job. Some minor details were changed to make the story more easily understandable. They did well to convey so much of the original text in only three hours (which flew by).

The show stealers were Miss Bingley who spoke volumes with her facial expressions and the cringe worthy Mr Collins who proved that an accomplished attractive actor can make themselves appear unattractive. Every actor was so dedicated to their role that when there was a crowd on stage it was difficult to focus on the main action because so much else was going on, none of them faded into the background of the "chorus". The few line fumbles were handled well as were the dropped props. There were a lot of props (and scenery) cunningly simple and adaptable.

I think the highest praise that I can give is that it remains true to the novel but manages to make it accessible to a modern audience, or maybe that I want to go see it again.

Performances: June: 26-29 8pm, 30th 3pm,
July: 2-3 6.30pm, 4-6 8pm, 7th 3pm, 9-10 6.30pm, 11-13 8pm
Tickets: $22
You can find out more about Stagecraft on their website and Facebook

June 24, 2013

Black Pearl Burlesque (New Plymouth)

After the All Blacks beat France it seemed like half of New Plymouth headed to The Mayfair for the first Black Pearl Burlesque. I was so excited that a burlesque show was opening in New Plymouth and it's great that a new show has such support from the community. I knew that the performances would be excellent as the acts are seasoned professionals.

It was unfortunate that there were so many logistical issues that I only stayed for the first two performers. I managed to catch Bonita Danger Doll and Fanciforia Foxglove. I can't say much about their acts though as I could only see Bonita from the waist up and Fanciforia from the neck up. During Bonita's act the lights kept dipping into the audience, blinding everyone, which just made matters worse. Do you start to see why I didn't stick around? The acts I missed were Miss Anthropy, Willow Noir, and The Magenta Diamond. The organisers did a great job of selecting such great acts. It is a shame that the MC didn't really fit with the show and that either he or the DJ kept commenting during the performances.

It was a scum to get into the venue where there was half an hour wait for the show and standing room only which meant it was impossible to see the stage even though I was very close to the front. Unlike concerts, with burlesque if you can't see what's going on you miss the entire experience. In the crowd I saw two confrontations and several people leave. The people who had come well lubricated continued to enjoy themselves, however.

The show will be back in six weeks and it has been confirmed that there will be both regular seating as well as tables. I also hope that doorsales will be better handled to avoid the terrible waiting and squash. That, coupled with less drunk people, will make a huge difference to the show which I sincerely hope will continue and be hugely successful.

You can find Black Pearl Burlesque on Facebook

June 16, 2013

RCRD Game 2 2013: Smash Malice vs Brutal Pageant

Last night’s Roller Derby game saw several injured players and several new faces. Brutal Pageant debuted new comers Poise N Dart, Gael Force and Bedlam Bailey as well as a transferred Dunedin player; Blocktimus Prime. This bout also signalled the return to skating of Scary Maclary, now  skating for Smash Malice instead of Comic Slams.  Half time was a speed skating competition from Comic Slams players. New security measures meant that a gear check was performed before play could begin.

For their first bout of the season, Brutal Pageant delighted the crowd with a well planned entrance, stepping out to Devo’s Whip It, complete with attempts at whip cracking from Princess Slayer and Bethwish, roses which were thrown to the audience, cheerleaders, and a fuzzy pink bee for a mascot.  The mascot was a little off base and even one of the commentator asked whether the costume had just been hanging around in someone’s house. Smash Malice’s entrance - the team holding a panther head, arms and tail paled in comparison especially after they tripped over themselves almost immediately after skating out.

During the first ten minutes of the bout, Pageant appeared to heavily feature Beatrix Skiddo as their jammer, but she was soon victim from a massive hit from Jem Molition, taking a tumble and struggling through the next couple of jams before falling to the floor by her team bench and withdrawing from the game. Jem appeared to enjoy several of the heavy hits she imparted throughout the game.

Brutal Pageant took an early lead in the first half but the score evened out quickly. At half time Smash Malice had a seven point lead. During the second half Smash Malice smashed it with continued power jams and low levels of Brutal Pageant players on track/high levels of Brutal Pageant players in the penalty box.

This game showed repeated use of a move where the jammer passes the jammer status to the pivot by removing her starred cap. I don’t recall seeing this move for several seasons, it has never been used this extensively before. It shows how much of a strategic game is now being played.

Meat Train took a well deserved MVP for Brutal Pageant; she seemed to struggle a bit with her jamming in the first half but really came into her own during the second. At the time of writing we couldn’t find who was awarded MVP for Smash Malice. Brutal Pageant spread the jamming across their team while Smash Malice focused on their most talented jammers. There was stand out jamming from old timers Tuff Bikkies and Princess Slayer.

Smash Malice won by almost one hundred points. The final score was 101 Brutal Pageant to 198 Smash Malice.

The next match is Brutal Pageant vs Comic Slams on Saturday 31 August. If you can’t wait till then you can go to the RCRD fundraising quiz night on Wednesday. The next game will be Richter City All Stars vs Victoria Roller Derby League (Melbourne) on Saturday 13 July.

June 14, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera

I was lucky enough to attend the premiere of the fastest selling show in Wellington Musical Theatre groups history; The Phantom of the Opera. I am very familiar with original cast recording but this was the first time I saw it performed live. The St James Theatre is really the only appropriate option for staging The Phantom, its old world opulence fits so well with the musical. It was a shame that the real theatre boxes weren't used for the show.

The production was extremely professional, not what you would expect from a local musical theatre group but they pride themselves on being "committed to producing large-scale professional quality blockbuster shows." The Phantom is certainly another triumph to add to their resume. As the president of the group, Conal Mckone, says it "is on the same level as an international production" but with something like The Phantom you can't really do things my halves. They are not-for-profit but I hope someone is being paid handsomely for all of their work.

WETA workshop was involved in the creation of some of the set pieces; all of them were stunning. Drop curtains were cleverly used to create different spaces, including using a curtain at the back of the stage to indicate that we were on stage with the actors, behind the main curtain. It was a traditional production, I believe The Phantom has yet to be re imagined. The staircase and rooftop sets were very similar to the Paris opera house they were based on (sadly I have only seen photos). The costuming was amazing but there were very few masks worn during Masquerade. 

The music itself was faultless. There were sections when either the microphones or the music was too loud but I’m sure that they will be ironed out. During scenes when several people were singing at once it was difficult to understand what anyone was saying, it created a wall of sound. Barbara Graham who played Christine has a very powerful voice but for some reason I thought her friend had a better look for the character.

I never realised how seductive the Phantom is during the first half before he gets really creepy. I think the whole generation of teenagers who were raised on love stories between women and monsters could be a new audience for the show, although it has not yet lost its popularity. I was surprised how much of a thriller I found it in addition to the romantic elements. I cried during the second half when Christine was at her father's grave and all her interactions with the Phantom.

The experience left me breathless. I look forward to seeing what Wellington Musical Theatre has in store next.

Tickets: $60-100
Venue: St James Theatre
Dates: 13 June-6 July, performance times vary

May 30, 2013

Weight loss: Wardrobe Therapy

To look at, Sally-ann Moffat is intimidating. She is beautiful and very well dressed in a funky style that is all her own. But that's what she teaches - to find your own style. Once she starts talking you realise how committed she is to helping you reach your personal best. That's high praise but it's true.

In my last post I mentioned how this journey isn't just about weight loss, it's about finding a new me. It's pointless to only work on one part of yourself as all the other parts will keep cropping up. I thought I was just looking for someone to help me sort through the clothes I had and take me shopping for more. What I found was something completely different that I didn't even realise was exactly what I needed.

When I first met Sally-ann she challenged me and I wanted to run away. But it was a good thing. Once I got past my internal set backs we got on great. Years ago I met with a stylist who threw out half my wardrobe and told me sternly what I could and couldn't wear. Sally-ann did none of that. She resurrected items I hadn't worn for years, encouraging me to see them in a new light. On top of that we talked about what my clothes said about me as well as what I would like them to say.

After the wardrobe therapy came retail therapy. It was an eye opener. Usually, shopping makes me frustrated and upset but I really enjoyed the time with Sally-ann and I have enjoyed shopping since. Like with my wardrobe she encouraged me to see shops, the clothing they held, and myself in them differently.

I've never been thin so I never felt that fashion was for me. There are parts of my body that I like but clothing has been more about covering up than revealing who I am. Working with Sally-ann helped me to realise that fashion is not just the pervue of models. I found that I could enjoy shopping, enjoy dressing up, even enjoy the way I look.

I've had so many compliments on the way I'm dressing even several saying I've lost weight which I don't think are due to the scales.

You can find out more about Sally-ann and her work on her website, Facebook or Twitter. Look out for her companion piece soon!

Special thanks to: Kiwi Pole Fitness

May 24, 2013

The God Boy

The best word I can find to describe The God Boy is disturbing. It makes you wriggle in your seat and stays with you long after, but maybe I identified with it more than others. A Catholic upbringing in small town New Zealand in the 1950's doesn't seem that far removed from my own in the 1980's. What's right, what's wrong and what the neighbours see are often in conflict.

I have not read the novel (by Ian Cross) which the play is based on. It has been compared to Catcher in the Rye and is lauded as a New Zealand classic. With a juvenile narrator it called to mind, for me, To Kill a Mockingbird; so much of the story must be understood in the places between the narration. The books were only three years apart in publication so a lot of the societal norms would have been similar also.

George Fenn did an amazing job as the protagonist Jimmy. I have no idea how he managed to remember so many lines! The whole show necessarily hinged on his performance. With a single look he portrayed such innocence, such faith that it was heartbreaking to watch the story unfold around him.
A single look portrays such innocence. Courtesy of Stagecraft
I saw the show with a friend who was probably more upset by the subject matter than me but came out of it wondering what the point was. There is only a blink of action, the story is not fast paced, there is in fact little of what people expect from entertainment today. But what there is is thought provoking and heart wrenching. If you want simple entertainment than perhaps this isn't the show for you but if you want something that makes you feel, for the characters, for your own (lost) innocence then check this play out. I'd love to hear other peoples thoughts on the performance.

Performances: 22-25 May  8 pm, Sunday 26th 3 pm, 28-29 May 6.30 pm, 30 May-1 June 8 pm
You can buy tickets here $22
You can find out more about this production here

May 21, 2013

Pretty Brutal

Pretty Brutal screened last week in Wellington as part of the Documentary Edge Festival. The film follows three players from Pirate City Rollers, New Zealand's first Roller Derby team, across a year (advertised incorrectly as their first year). I was disappointed that the film maker, Monica De Alwis wasn't at the screening to field questions although two different people apologised for her.

This documentary reminded me what it was like to be passionate about Roller Derby. It's about the drama, the pageantry and a little bit about the violence...and the sport of course. The poster sums it up well; the closeness amongst players but the brutality of the sport.

The graphics throughout were impressive; vintage cut out women, a scoreboard with a little ship for each team and an explanation of the game that morphs into play itself (you can see that on the preview). These were probably part of the reason that it took Monica six years to get this off the ground, that and creating a storyline from hours of footage. She does a great job, the story is compelling. Although she follows three players the one that stands out is Pieces of Hate. I don't think this was intentional just that Hate steals the show.

Pieces of Hate corrects some errors about the documentary on her Facebook page; the league actually started in February 2006 not 2007 and there were "a lot more people who worked their arse off for pcr in the beginning that deserved more air time" (sic). From the looks of her page she's keeping herself busying taking training sessions up and down the country. Anecdotally I've heard that she was very busy at the first National Roller Derby tournament last year bench managing and coaching several of the newer teams.

I really enjoyed this documentary and would recommend it to any derby enthusiast. I was surprised to only recongise two players at the screening I attended. It's a shame that this wasn't completed earlier when it was more relevant although now there are so many leagues throughout the country there are more potential viewers. I think a follow-on documentary about the evolution of the sport and the split between Pirates and Auckland City to create the first intraleague only team would be well received.

You can see the preview for the documentary here
You can like Pieces of Hate on her official fan page on Facebook
The film has a website and Facebook

May 20, 2013

Alexander Sparrow: One Night Stand

I looked forward to Alexander Sparrow’s comedy gig. I always enjoy hearing material a new comedian has to offer, and I was intrigued how Kitty O'Shea’s intimate venue would work for the show.

The gig was upstairs in the small, quaint space creating a comfortable and intimate setting. I think more comedians should perform here, as long as it is a small audience or it could easily become crowded.

Alexander Sparrow was clearly nervous at times, but had the support of his friends and family, taking up the majority of the audience (as he pointed out throughout the evening). He had a strong and confident stage presence most of the time and certainly doesn't have a problem with being the centre of attention. The first 15 minutes of the show was a stumble of words guiding us to shout and cheer as Alex introduced himself to a wave of applause. This could have worked better had he approached it with more clarity and confidence. The material he used flowed well, it was a shame that he lost his place, got distracted by his friends in the crowd, and repeated himself as much as he did. The polish will come with practice and make this a better show.

The set had me giggling at the local flavour focusing on student life, blanket man and the stereotyped bracket of Upper Hutt, poking fun at their toothless grins and lack of hygiene. Although it was a little harsh, it had the crowd entertained and I must admit brought a smile to my face also. Most of the material was nothing I hadn't heard before. It was aimed at a young, student based demographic. I would have loved to have heard a few quips that would appeal to a wider target market rather than countless tales about the supermarket job he hates, the theatre degree he is studying and how this adds nothing to society. One or two jokes about these topics would have been funny, but the show seemed to repeat itself, going back to a) he was a theatre student and b) he worked in a supermarket.

It grew a little tiresome by the end of the hour. The ending was definitely the highlight as nerves seemed to evaporate and Alex did a fantastic impersonation of a clubbing scene in Wellington. If this had been the opening, or the focus of his show, I would have been falling off my chair. Focusing on impressions is where his strengths lie. I hope to see a full set of his silly gyrating antics at a later date. I would certainly head along to see that!

I believe that practice and life experience only improve comedians’ material. Often a good set is built on a range of sketches the comedian has developed and tweaked over a number of years. With this practice I believe Alex will be a comedian everyone will be talking about. For his first hour show, I think he did well in such an intimate setting, and hope that he pursues this form of creative expression.  Keep up the good work Alexander Sparrow!

May 16, 2013

Weight Loss: Personal Trainer

I feel incredibly lucky that Julia from Kiwi Pole Fitness and Kaos has agreed to be my personal trainer. Julia is an amazing pole dancing teacher and performer as well as a qualified personal trainer. I'm going through some major upheavals in my personal life and the great thing about Julia is that she gets it, she's been there. Working with her feels like she is more my life coach than just my personal trainer.

We've been working together a month or so and starting things off slowly. We haven't done any of the stuff that I think of doing with a personal trainer - no exercising, no yelling. It helps that Julia knows me quite well so probably knows how best to handle me. I've been tracking my mood, food and exercise. This helps me to identify my own behaviours and take responsibility for them.

Following on from the diary was little things I had been neglecting about myself; looking after myself, making space my own. And then finding some exercise that I could enjoy, be passionate about. I've started ballet classes with a scary Russian woman who yells at me (I found the yelling!). It's not exactly difficult but the positions feel a little like contortion. I enjoy how beautiful it feels; each movement starts with my arm fluttering from my side. But it's also hard, my feet and legs hurt every time  My teacher wants me to go twice a week but basically I don't want to, she was insistent so I'm not sure how long I will continue with ballet. But, I did find the class and have actually attended, so that's something. I hope in the future to motivate myself to go back to pole dancing  too (there goes my last New Years resolution).

The best thing about working with Julia is that she understands what I'm working on isn't just about losing weight; it's about finding me, whoever that turns out to be (more about that in my next post).

Other updates:
- I've met with a new dietitian and discovered that I haven't gained any weight (93.1kg) since my first appointment about 6 months ago
- After meeting with a specialist my medication has been reduced so hopefully I will start to see some weight loss soon (if you don't remember, my medication makes me put on weight and won't let my body release it either)

Coming up:
- I'll tell you about my time with Sally-Ann Moffat doing wardrobe therapy
- (and later) you'll get to read about the course of weight loss treatments I'm undergoing

Special thanks to: Kiwi Pole Fitness

If you are interested in personal training from Julia you can contact her through either of her studios

May 5, 2013

The Wellington Wedding Show May 2013

It always amazes me the amount of planning and preparation involved in organising a wedding. It is all in the details - or so I am told. Being in the bridal industry myself, I often hear about wedding plans from the brides as I am creating their perfect custom Wedding dress. What an overwhelming experience for them all.

The Wellington Wedding Show is a stand alone event, which matures and blossoms each year. The stalls display a wide range of tips and packages from hair, makeup, manicures and honeymoons to venue decorations, cakes, on-site babysitters, and of course wedding dresses. There was even a dance floor and a photo booth in a vintage caravan! The event is well organised, and professional. All of the stalls have helpful assistants to give you information, in a friendly manner without making you feel poached or harassed.

The stalls are exquisitely laid out, and show a unique take on their particular business. For me the stall that looked most impressive was called White Ribbon Weddings. The company focuses on the decorations at the event, as shown in the images below. Very impressive (but with a high price tag to match!).

Another stall that caught my eye was for an idea for wedding favors. They are always tricky! It adds up quickly, and such a small token for the person to take away. This year, Unicef have launched a wedding inspired gift card for each table setting saying what has been donated on behalf of the Bride and Groom. The package deals include Polio vaccines, school supplies and mosquito nets to name a few. If you are going down this road, I would recommend a gift pack per table rather than per place settling as it would add up pretty quickly. The Unicef wedding favors are called 'We Do', as shown below.
Overall, the Wellington Wedding Show was a huge success. If you are planning a wedding it is a good place to start for an overview of how it all works. The entry fee for an adult is $18, which I think is well worth it.

Zowie Dee Bridals top wedding picks of the day include:

The Photographer: Jo Moore Photographer. (I went to a wedding she worked on a few weeks ago, and the photos look beautiful)

The Details: Vintage and Pretty. For everything cute and retro from cake and candy to china jars and lantern pagodas to parasols and curios.

Wedding Venue: Boomrock. (Extravagant, but who doesn't want to fly in by helicopter to a beautiful remote and intimate venue?)

Lashes for the ladies: Lush Lashes - Semi permanent eyelash extensions lasting up to 6 weeks. They make such a difference in photos!

Wedding Favours: Unicef's 'We Do' package. Visit the website link to learn more:

Venue Decorations: White Ribbon Weddings. Although the packages are a little on the pricey side, if the budget is looking good, I think it's worth the investment. What a breath taking visual for photos!

Florist: Woodstock Florists. Their flower arrangements are always impressive, big, bold and beautiful bouquets custom designed for you.

Hair and Makeup: Penny Rose. I will be working with Penny Rose at an upcoming bridal event I am hosting. They are not only fantastic value, but also good at what they do. The staff are accommodating and approachable.

The Dresses: Zowie Dee Custom Made Designs. This is my company, which I must recommend. I have 10 years experience in the bridal industry and work with each client to make sure they enjoy their special day with a dress fits their personality and vision.

April 26, 2013

Zanna, Don't!

Zanna, Don't! (think the opposite of Xanadu) has been described as the gayest musical ever and begs the question "if musical theatre doesn't address the important political issues then who will?"

In an alternate universe where being homosexual is the norm everything is fabulous and you can never wear too many sequins...or so it seems. Zanna is a love fairy who creates instalove (that which has taken so much flack recently in the light of things like the Twilight series) in  Heartsville High. The students decide to stage a controversial play about heterosexuals in the military (in this 'verse "don't ask, don't tell" is still relevant) with completely unexpected results.

The actors managed to look young enough to pull off being high school students. Their musical talent outstripped the quality of the music offered, although there were some impressive displays of counterpoint. They bought it in every song, on every note, despite some sound issues. LeRoi Kippen though not one of the main actors stood out the most for me; he throws himself into every role he is given.The brightly coloured costumes and scenery will make your teeth ache - it is a shame that the scene changes weren't as smooth as they could have been.

I would like to know; who was responsible for the choreography? It added to the entertainment value and was complex while managing to look simple.

With the recent passing of the Marriage Equality Bill Speakeasy Productions has staged this musical at the perfect time. Is equality important to you? are sequins? do you like musicals? dancing? hilarity? This show deserves to be sold out so get your tickets quick.

Performances: 25-27 April, 30 April-4 May 7.30-9.30pm
Tickets: $25 (you can get them here)
Venue: Gryphon Theatre
Check out Speakeasy Productions on their website

April 14, 2013

RCRD Game 1 2013: Comics Slams vs Smash Malice

The first bout of the 2012 season saw a rematch of last years final as the winners of the past two years faced off. A new year means new uniforms; this year with team emblems across the chest. Thankfully players appear to be allowed a little more leeway in individualising their kit than last season. The new rules made for a very different game; all players starting on the same whistle made it difficult to discern exactly what was going on in the tight pack.

During the warm up, it was clear that Comic Slams had been concentrating some of their training on staying in bounds after big hits, knowing Malice’s penchant for skating backwards to force the skater re-entering to be at a disadvantage. They had an early lead that they easily maintained through the first half with help from strong jammers, J’Knee Dodgem who scored a massive 35 points in one jam and Anna Pave-U’Ova who on several occasions simply leaped through the opposing players.  

Early in the first half, Smash Malice jammer Orange Ruffie suffered an unfortunate skate mishap, resulting in a frazzled hurry by bench manager Cher Trouble to get her back in the game by finding replacement skates for her after it became apparent that it wasn’t fixable.  She wasn’t on form for the remainder of the first half while she struggled to familiarise herself with the loaned pair. 

At half time the score was 98 Slams / 56 Malice

The half time show was run by ZM who are a relatively new sponsor of RCRD. It was not up to the usual standards that I have come to expect from half time entertainment (in the past it has been much more alternative). Supporters from each team were called up to a tug of war, the Smash Malice team won but for some reason the guy running it kept referring to them as Comic Slams. But, they were giving away discounts to the ice skating (directly in front of the arena) so I’ll let that pass.

Some penalty-ridden skating by Slams in the second half saw Smash Malice make up the difference, showing great examples of walls and other strategic blocking when they had the pack advantage in power jam situations.  

Suffer Jet, one of the two original skaters still actively skating, was fouled out of the bout following her seventh penalty during the jam in which Anna Pave-U’Ova (as pivot this time) suffered an injury which resulted in her leaving the game also with only 7 and a half minutes left in the game.

Despite a valiant effort from Smash Malice in the final quarter, including a strategic timeout to ensure that the clock didn’t run out, Comic Slams were the winners with a score of 161 to 138.  

MVPs for the bout were named by the teams as Tuff Bikkies and Jem Molition (captain) for Smash Malice, and Frankenpain for Comic Slams. While these skaters were performing well during the night, we felt they didn’t do anything spectacular. 

The next game will see Smash Malice up against Brutal Pageant but you have a while to wait as it’s not for another two months (June 15th)! The season has been stretched over eight months, twice as long as last season so it will be a year full of Derby.

You can find Richter City on Facebook, Twitter and their website.

April 13, 2013

Wellington Fashion Week - RUBY

With hopes high and a week put aside to view other peoples work on the runway, I was looking especially for clean cuts, clever use of paneling, and a keen eye for fun, bold pops of colour. I headed to my first show at WFW; Ruby.

Overall, I was highly impressed with the range Ruby had in store, although I am glad I didn't have to pay for the event. This 'show' was actually in the Ruby Boutique store on Lambton Quay. Upon arrival, I found the range of clothing in store was sure enough, the Autumn/Winter 2013 range. In one sense, I could see why they would show the current range in store. You didn't have to wait 6 months to get your sweet little hands on it, but in another sense it didn't really seem like a WFW event, as I could have popped in at any time to see the clothes in store. Not exactly a sneak peek of what to look forward to.

In saying that, it really is where the conflicting views of what was on show ends. I was welcomed into a warm and positive atmosphere, by a super friendly staff member, with tasty food trays scattered around the venue, and a bar with delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails - not a bad start! I began to look through the racks to find a fabulous range! The collection had a strong cohesive look, a great colour story, and a gorgeous choice of fabrics. The quality of sewing was not only fantastic, but consistent too.

With a range of thick winter wools, chunky knits, soft printed chiffon's and textured woven fabrics, Ruby's Autumn/Winter 2013 has something for everyone. The colour palette of muted tones of earthy olives and browns mesh well with the subtle pops of baby pinks and blues. The prints used are small and detailed with a fun playful attitude, they can easily be paired with a wide range of your current wardrobe adding to its personality.

Although the cuts and designs were relatively simple, the focus was on good tailoring and an injection of asymmetry and gathered detailing within the range. I saw a several pieces within the collection using two contrasting weights of fabrics within the one garment adding interest to the collection without over designing and making the finish product looking fussy or overworked. Their 'brother' label Liam, compliments the main line cohesively mirroring the same colour story but with a range of more polished tailoring and a focus on evening and workwear rather than the daywear range of the Ruby line.

As much as I loved what was on offer, I have to say that Lisa Li, the leatherworker in store was the hero of the event. On the launch of her new label, MYDEERFOX she had a table set up to do demonstrations of her leatherworking. I interviewed Lisa to find that not only is she an innovative new designer, but humble as well as talented. She graduated from her Fashion based degree at Otago last November, when she began her label. Lisa has a range of handbags, bracelets, luggage tags and wallets using a soft colour palette with a base of sand and an accent of violets, soft pinks and baby blues. Her focus is on unusual cuts, and all of her pieces have no sewing involved but are carefully handcrafted into folded and leather glued delicate origami structures and shapes.

I was highly impressed with her clean lines and unique designs and feel confident that this new entrepreneur will go far. Look out for MYDEERFOX, I have a feeling you will be seeing a lot more of her work in the near future. The image below shows my favorite piece, of which I have my eye on in black!
Imaged sourced from

Ruby, along with many other design stores in Wellington, stocks Kathryn Wilson's gorgeous shoes, and with the Kathryn Wilson show later that night, it was nice to see the quality and workmanship of the shoes up close before the event. So, after a lovely afternoon it was time to get changed and ready for the shoe show.

April 11, 2013

Bert and Maisy

Last night we attended the opening night of Hutt Repertory’s performance of the Robert Lord’s play Bert & Maisy as a play set in the living room of the home of Bert & Maisy in small town New Zealand in the 1960’s.

As someone in our mid 60’s, the set, the cast and the goings on certainly reminded us of things as we remember them!

Without giving too much away, the plot features Bert, a retired gentleman, living in his father’s house with his wife Maisy who both pine for their son who has left town.
So whilst Maisy was working in the local pharmacy, Bert was in the habit of meeting the 3.05 pm train in case their long lost son should turn up. A young man, Tom, then came into their lives and changes occurred in an era when change was not common.

Accepting that it was opening night, the delivery was strong and not too many lines were missed.  Maisy truly represented the woman of the house at that time, while the other characters also fitted the type and attitude of the early 60s.

Overall, a memorable night of a performance not only enjoyed by the reviewers, but most of the audience, the bulk of whom were in our age bracket and could see their own parents and homes back in the 60’s.

April 8, 2013

A Week of Glitz and Glamour at Wellington Fashion Week - Opening Night

Welcome to the first installment of my Fashion Column on behalf of Wellington Reviews. What a fabulous privilege to have been asked to write a regular monthly column! I hope you enjoy reading my opinions and reviews as much as I enjoy writing them.

I am a Fashion Designer by trade, with my own Bridal and Custom Made Clothing business. Zowie Dee Custom Made Clothing is now in its sixth year of operation and continues to grow as word spreads. I worked under a range of fashion designers and tailors whilst completing a five year double degree in Fashion and Textiles, then a business degree focusing on the fashion industry before launching my business. Immersing myself in fashion is all I have focused on. I hope that my knowledge of tailoring, pattern making skills and experience from my own fashion label will allow me to appreciate the skill, dedication, creativity and natural flair I review on other designers work for this column.

Thanks to a wide range of sponsors, Wellington Fashion Week went off with a bang this year in a fabulous new location at the Waterfront. The grand marque outside Mac's Breweries was a hub of creative activity. With spotlights shining up into the night sky demanding to be noticed, inside was just as impressive. A bar, stage, media room, full length runway and even a coffee bar, I knew I was set for a fun filled week!

Wellington Fashion Week allows designers a stepping stone towards their marketing campaign and PR exposure for their growing labels. WFW is in its first few years of production, the smaller scale making it more financially feasible for smaller labels to take part. Whether it be in a group showcase or an off sight solo event, this is a great opportunity for the designers to sharpen their PR skills under the wing of the WFW specialists. This is a smaller scale version (much smaller) of New Zealand Fashion Week, giving  small designers the opportunity to meet industry professionals whilst raising their profile. WFW is an open event to the general public too, unlike New Zealand Fashion Week, which is solely focused on VIP media tickets, allowing the press to dictate our view on the show. WFW have made it possible for anyone to have the opportunity to purchase tickets to see their favorite designer showcases, making it accessible for all. It is a great excuse for a fabulous evening out with the girls!

I have thought for some time that we need a Fashion Week in Wellington. Not only are we the 'Creative Capital', but with both Massey University and Fashion Tech here in the central city, we have an ever increasing number of fashion graduates adding to our diverse Wellington streets on an annual bases (me being one of them!). It is great that we have a presence in the fashion world and a platform for new boutique designers to gain some PR which is crucial in the industry.

The event launched with a glamorous and star studded line up; the Mayor made a guest appearance and said an opening speech, a live singer graced us with her soulful voice. The venue was polished and sophisticated bringing in a full crowd of designers and store owners looking to snap up the latest trends; from Wellington's new labels to some of our larger labels looking to be part of the buzz. The designers I spoke to at the opening party were energetic and exited about what opportunities may arise from the PR experience. Good luck to them all!

Although there are still a few teething problems (as to be expected with the launch of any new event on such a grand scale) I hope that as Wellington Fashion Week matures and develops over the next few years, the scale of the event grows and blossoms.

This is the first in a series of blogs I will be posting over the next few days on the shows I attended, with a few tips as to what to expect in the new wave of trends heading our way for both Winter 2013 and Spring/Summer 2013-14. The new trends are wearable, flattering and focus on a beautiful soft earthy toned colour palette, suiting most complexions. There are a few stronger pops of colour for the more adventurous heading our way too, with a focus on bright reds, blues and purples. Over all, I'm sure there will be a little something for you all.

A big thanks to the organizers of Wellington Fashion Week and the designers for giving Wellington Reviews the opportunity to share this experience with you.