Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sydney Festival in Review: "Dido and Aeneas" Sasha Waltz & Guests

Just like the friendly volunteer survey-gal was, I was shocked that this was my first year going to the Sydney Festival! I honestly had never heard of it before this year (I guess I live under a rock) so, inspired by my extremely cool gig-going friend Flora I decided to get as into it as I could, on a shoestring of course.

Photo credit. (And a taste of the reviews from the newspapers).

I'm writing this review not as a professional, or as someone seeming to be in-the-know, but as a member of the general public with a keen interest in music and art.

The production of Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas by Sasha Waltz including underwater choreography was one of the festival shows that I really wanted to see and resulted in me waiting in line for an hour and a half to get cheap tickets on the day of the final show (yesterday). The tickets were really good, considering the price and late sale, and we (my boyfriend and I) were in the second row from the front. I was really pleased to be seated so close to the orchestra because I had seen them previously in their own concert and they were exceptional, but was a little dubious about how we would be experiencing the show as a whole: considering the balance of orchestra vs vocals. The publicity for the show was excellent as the above advertising image was definitely what had me longing to go. I was intrigued by how the underwater choreography would work and anticipating the fluidity of water to aid a fluidity of movement to result in something beautiful.

The show began with some confusing exchange of dialogue between what appeared to be actors atop the big tank. I couldn't understand what they were saying and had a futile search around the stage for some surtitles. I tried my best to focus on what they were saying and watch their lips to grasp the words better but in the end I gave up, wanting to watch the movement that had started in the tank. The underwater dancing was beautiful albeit completely disconnected from the music of Purcell that was being played so truly by the Akadamie für Alte Musik Berlin. There was one moment where a movement change in the orchestra was reflected in more upbeat movements of lower-half bodies in the tank, but this was the only time in the entirety of the show when I felt there was almost a successful connection between the two. I will continue to call it a "show" rather than an opera because it ceased to be so and became an exhibition of dance concepts with music there. I continued to be mesmerised at the movements of the dancers, twisting, tumbling and sometimes fish-like in the water, but as more narration occurred by the people atop the tank and a teapot and cup were added into the mix, I had no idea what was going on. As the water level started to dwindle in the tank I realised that this wasn't the feature of the show, and it was merely a prologue. I felt a little jipped. I wanted, and was expecting, a narration of opera through movement in water rather than a brief and no doubt costly prologue to the story. The tank, having served it's purpose, was dutifully wheeled out on the backdrop of complete darkness and silence. That is, until the tank came across a big bump it had to overcome before getting off-stage, resulting in a back and forth movement that was repeated as all the wheels passed over it. Any atmosphere Waltz had wished to create with her prologue was effectively dissipated.

The rest of the show was comprised of modern dance. I enjoyed a lot of the movement and different sections individually, but as a whole they missed the point. Reading reviews afterwards apparently there were two dancers symbolising each Dido and Aeneas, something which was completely lost on me. To me it was just lots of people dancing on the stage, some taking it in turns: pas de deux, pas de trois, solos.. There was no narrative through the dance; merely modern dance for the sake of modern dance, conjuring up the concept of modern art as a few splatters on a blank canvas. It was beautiful for the most part but without a sense of meaning or narrative it became tedious and at some points in the show I was even thinking "when will this end..".

As well as two dancers per main character there was the singer, meaning three people acting the one part making for a confusing mix of who's who and what's what. It was clear who of the singers were Dido and Aeneas but whoever could make sense of the dancers is more intelligent than me (apparently they were colour-coded). The opera is in English but this doesn't mean that audience will be able to understand. I found the diction in the male singing was relatively easy to discern whereas the females were harder to understand. I don't believe that it's imperative to understand every single word that's being sung because some vowels change with a necessity to achieve a beautiful tone at a certain pitch. I enjoyed the tone of Dido very much and thought she did an extraordinary job in the large space that is the Lyric Theatre. The voices of the secondary characters didn't do as well, but this is perhaps because I was so close to the orchestra and couldn't get a true perception of the balance. I applaud the Vocal Consort Berlin for taking on the arduous choreography, getting down to their underpants, and singing from awkward positions sprawled along the floor of the stage.

All in all there was a large mix of chorus and dancers on stage much of the time and it was incredibly difficult to understand the meaning behind everything. The chorus was dancing (which, as I said before, I applaud them for their tenacity and courage) but this served to create an overall scene on stage that was unrefined. Many of the dancers left me asking if they were even dancers due to badly coordinated movements, perhaps this was clumsy choreography. There was a lack of unity in form and movement and in general it was a higgledy-piggledy, mis-matched mess that looked like an amateur group. Scenes I did enjoy included all the bodies on the floor rolling side to side creating an effect like the sea while a singer walked through, and when Dido and Aeneas were reaching for each other and being pulled away.

In reading reviews in some of Sydney's major publications, I realised the symbolism of the fish-tank: allowing the context of the male lead arriving by sea, and the scene where Dido looks to be drowning in her hair, but the main concern I have is that I would not have been able to make this connection whilst watching. Although Dido and Aeneas is a well-known opera, many of the festival-goers would not be familiar with the story. I don't think it should be compulsory that one reads a detailed synopsis of an opera before attending; I liken this to going to see a movie which you've already read the complete plot beforehand. Opera is the stuff that happened before movies and needs to be discovered in the moment. That's why I thought the exclusion of surtitles greatly diminished the effectiveness of this work on the audience.

It is my belief that art should be approachable to all. Many say that classical music is elitist but it is our (me being part of the professional classical world) fault for allowing it to continue this way. Anyone should be able to go to an art gallery and understand the artist's work without intimately knowing the artist, or be able to draw their own meaning from it. This production of Dido and Aeneas was so incoherent and mish-mashed that I couldn't even imagine and create my own story to go along with it. The dance sequences, thought beautiful and interesting in themselves, were fractured as a whole and were impossible to piece together into an overarching form of narrative. Opera is the telling of a story, through music, and was played and sung brilliantly here by the Akadamie für Alte Musik Berlin and the Vocal Consort Berlin, but was let down by the over-looking of the importance of creating a cohesive whole between music and dance. The dance itself was unrefined, lacked unity and coordination, and resembled a group of amateur middle-aged people doing their best. Sasha Waltz has presented a disjointed performance, one where the music could have been a work in it's own without the dance, and vice versa, so separate were the two. I'm glad I didn't pay the full ticket price to see this.

Did you see the show too? Feel free to comment below.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Outfit Misfit

Christmas is long gone and the trees are lying in the gutters discarded and sad waiting for the green garbage truck to pick them up. But not here on Wish-ToDo-Play! Christmas is alive a well and here is a festive outfit for you. What's more misfit than an outfit worn completely out of season? Featuring my first serious clothing purchase from Alannah Hill: I remember it being 2011 and I was stopped in my tracks by this red sequinned-lace beauty in the shop window "The Little Posh Frock". As any rational human being does, naturally, I instantly thought that it would be perfect for my upcoming 3rd year recital for university. The reasons were this: covers the shoulders (yet not restricting), respectable length of skirt, respectable neckline, and good level of sparkle factor for performance. I had to have it. Entering the store I almost fainted at the $489 price tag: full-price full-sequinned Alannah Hill does not come cheap. After a week a day deliberating I finally convinced myself it was worth it and I haven't regretted the decision since. Although I may be overdressed sometimes, there's nothing wrong with that. When wearing an overly dressy dress it's important to consider the shoes. To take it down a notch I pair these kind of dresses with shoes of the pajama dressing trend.

Yes, I'm in a graveyard. It's the Camperdown Cemetery of St Stephen's church in Newtown and has some really old graves. I love the symmetry of cemeteries and the peace and cool that can be felt there. This could function as an Alannah Hill ad campaign as there is only one thing on me that isn't and that is the shoes. I'd like to draw your attention to my relatively new AH bag now! I was ruminating on this one for a while and as soon as it went on sale I pounced like a mountain lion on a deer with a broken leg. Although it's small and completely beaded I've found it's been really versatile so far: it goes with a number of different outfits, albeit mainly for parties, and fits everything it needs to fit for those occasions.

The belt is actually a dark velvet green, which doesn't come up clearly in these pictures. That's what makes the outfit truly festive.

Dress: Alannah Hill
Belt: Alannah Hill
Hair clip: Alannah Hill
Bag: Alannah Hill
Slipper shoes: Witchery

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Haute Courture

If you're not from Australia and not a tennis fan then you probably don't know that the Australian Open is currently being played in Melbourne. I have to admit that I'm not the most knowledgeable when it comes to tennis (nor the most interested) but at pleas from my boyfriend I sat down and watched the game last night. Playing: Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic. It was kind of exciting and fairly interesting, having been explained the rules I was pretty well following what was going on. More exciting and extremely interesting though was the fashion for the court.

Photo credit.
Photo credit.

I personally disliked Stosur's look by Asics (first image) finding it boring and unflattering. As much as I would love to support Australia in all areas this was an outfit I could not support. The block colour was a pink that should be left in the coloured pens drawer of a 13-year-old girl and it was altogether same same same: same colour visor, same colour dress, same colour shoes. I do note the white accents in the form of her wrist-bands and socks (and shoe detail) but it wasn't enough to create interest.

Ana Ivanovic, on the other-hand, not only dominated the court with tennis but also with fashion. This Adidas outfit was a success for me because of the colour contrasts: that blue so like the colour of the court juxtaposed with the flashes of hot orange in the bike shorts (are they still called bike shorts in a tennis outfit?), sports bra and visor. The white shoes and wristbands were a nice touch to stop the outfit being too matchy-matchy. The blue dress the colour of the court and the white shoes and wristbands the colour of the court-lines was an effect not lost on me.

Blue-court fashion vs red-carpet fashion has some clear differences. One being that apparently it's totally OK to wear the same outfit as someone else. Daniela Hantuchova was slammed on this site for wearing the Ivanovic Adidas dress, but not because she was being a copy-cat or style-stealer, it was because of the cowl neck that apparently serves no functional purpose and "tries so hard to be tennis couture". Well sure, it's not entirely functional. But neither does it hinder performance, as seen in Ivanovic's defeat of Stosur last night. I believe it gives a femininity to the player that is often forgotten about. Comparing the above two images note that both women are strong and athletic, but Ivanovic looks more lady-like. Many would argue that looking like your sex on the court has nothing to do with it and that they're not there to pick-up, but I stand by my opinion that even though you may be playing sport, no matter what you do: there is always time and scope for looking pretty and feeling beautiful. I believe this is the function of the cowl neck in this Adidas dress.

Speaking of pretty and beautiful, I may be getting a crush on Ivanovic. Let's take a look at the outfit one more time:

Photo credit.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Wish-list

This week I've been lured in by the picnicky brilliance of plaid, check, gingham, tartan et al (more on their world-domination later) and have been seriously almost-actually-dreaming about this Carven dress. Not only does it fit in with my want for something of this print species, but the cut across the shoulders is so 50's-esque (and who doesn't love that decade of fashion??). Carven is a french label which first came onto my radar after their SS '12 show with bright prints and cunning cut-outs. This A-line dress showcases a more demure side to their repertoire and is like nothing in my closet currently: not only have I nothing with this print, but nothing of this cut (oh the horror!). How great is the skirt that bunches together a little bit, but not too much, creating that classic silhouette? I say: really great. Go check it out on Moda Operandi and please zoom-in on the pattern because scattered amongst those checker-board holes are little C's. Picture-picnic perfect!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Something Old, Something New

Ok, to be honest that's ^ a lie. It's only going to be Something New today because I haven't been listening to any classical music lately. I've really been taking a big ol' break from the music thing which has made me feel both great and guilty at the same time. I swear I'll be back in the swing of things soon.. But for now here is a song from an album I have recently acquired and am falling in love with; again another great shazam from FBi radio. According to wikipedia the band is indie-rock from Cincinnati, Ohio: The National (btw you should definitely click that link because they have one of the best websites I've seen of any band). I'm not sure what attracts me so to their music: there's a kind of predictability to the harmony/melody which I don't normally like but at the same time the sound is nostalgic like from the 70s or something. The lyrics are really haunting and interesting and although I'm dying to look them up on the net I feel like I want to just keep listening and have them reveal themselves to me the more I get familiar with it. This particular song I'm going to share with you makes me feel I'm in a floaty dress barefoot, hair down, swaying slowly on a massive dance floor with school-disco lights struggling to shine through the misty fog of hot and sweaty bodies (except that I'm alone on the dance-floor).

I'm really enjoying discovering this whole album, I highly recommend you get into it.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Outfit Misfit

Trawling through my photos on my computer I've found blog photos enough for a month of these posts! My favourite blog photographer, Berny, recently moved overseas so it's been a bit haphazard since then to find people to take pictures for me. So lately I've been asking my boyfriend to just take photos of me whilst we're out doing fun things in fun places so I can use them for Outfit Misfit posts  (stay tuned for next week: a showcase of his photography skills). To be honest though, Berny remains my favourite and it's because she captures all the in-between moments when I'm not trying to smile and look nice and I'm doing something natural and happen to look nice (or incredibly silly.. and you folks know how I don't mind sharing my silly photos). She is a fantastic friend and I love her dearly and miss her most. So here is an Outfit Misfit that she shot when she was back visiting in Australia late last year.

Popping dat collar.
One of the awkward in-between moments caught so skilfully by Berny.

Last September I went to Melbourne for an audition and made sure I had a couple of days after for some shopping. I will always be a Sydney girl through and through but something about Melbourne's charmingly cluttered lanes makes for the best shopping experience. And also they have some boutique designers like Kinki Gerlinki which can only be found in Melbourne. And it can be fun living like a hipster for a few days. Back to the point though, I was in Melbourne and it was time to shop. I had heard about Scotch and Soda, a design [… here I wanted to say more about S&S but looked up their website and it is taking a million years to load the "about" page. Seeing as my other pages all load fine I conclude that their website is not user friendly …] and took myself off there for some retail therapy. As you know I'm trying to save money, not spend, so I only allowed myself to buy two new items on this Melbourne trip. I had had thoughts of a denim shirt creeping 'round my brain for a long time by now (guesses approx. 1 year) and when I went into Scotch and Soda and saw all their goodies I knew this was going to be the time and place to realise the fantasy. I love that this denim shirt mixes denims, dark and light, and is incredibly soft. If you buy nothing else this year I urge you all to purchase something from Scotch and Soda because not only do they have fun and great quality pieces, THEY ALL SMELL SO AMAZING. I'm not sure how they do it but the smell of new S&S clothing is incredible (sadly, my new smell has left). One of the reasons why I had been thinking for so long about a denim shirt was that I needed to turn over in my mind how versatile a piece it could be and how useful an item in my wardrobe it could become. The first outfit thought was to double denim: jeans with shirt, and I was pleasantly pleased to put denim shirt with geometric skirt to trumpets of success (in my mind anyway and by the way it is my old-time favourite  versatile skirt).

And now my hair is no longer pink and I'm mourning the loss of a much-loved accessory (I think it really is a part of this outfit). But it was time for the pink to go and for me to return to normal-people hair.

Shirt: Scotch and Soda
Skirt: Gorman
Socks: Alannah Hill
Boots: Wittner
Hair clip: Alannah Hill

Saturday, January 11, 2014

On the To-Do List

I have been obsessed with all things cropped recently, like these beautiful cropped cardigans:

Buy them here...

Just kidding! Those are atrocious. I'm thinking more along the lines of:

1. 3. 5. Balenciaga (image sourced here), 2. Aquilana Rimondi (image sourced here),  4.  Emilio Pucci (image sourced here), 6. Cue (image sourced here), 7. Dolce and Gabbana (image sourced here).
The cropped top trend that I've been wanting to try is one that finishes just below the bust worn with a skirt that covers the belly-button which is generally fuller (most like the Dolce and Gabbana skirt). Recently I bought a Cue crop top in the Boxing Day sales and a full-skirted black silky number by Review. I am a strong believer of wearing my clothes for a long time so I did not invest in this trend just to leave it by the wayside in a few months. So assuming my belly doesn't get overly flabby in the near future I'm going to continue wearing this outfit as much as I like. Additionally: a slightly bad habit I have of not wearing new clothes straight away is another reason why I don't follow trends that change as often as Carrie Bradshaw's shoes, or alternatively continue to wear trends once they've become "old news".

So here on the To-Do List this week is a DIY by the lovely Geneva over at a pair and a spare (a really awesome DIY fashion blog!) modelled on a more recent Balenciaga cropped top using a plain old singlet! I'm dying to try this DIY and hopefully once I'm done I'll be brave enough to wear it..

Model Crush

I get girl-crushes on models (in case you don't know what a girl-crush is here is: urban dictionary's definition). With models it's mostly a physical beauty fascination for me, although I do get girl crushes on other people based on other attributes right now I'm entranced by this British model: Claudia Devlin. I came across her whilst whiling away some time on Lisa Eldridge's site (btw an amazing website for makeup with heaps of video tutorials, which I've mentioned on this blog before). I don't wear makeup day-to-day but I find it a really interesting area and love watching it so I got in a bit of a YouTube spiral of death watching these makeup videos by Lisa Eldridge and came across one starring this stunning model.

The above is the second video done by Mary Greenwell as a guest artist for Lisa Eldridge and I love the look she created for the eyes and the vampy lip. Claudia has the most stunning eyes and skin and face and I am girl-crushing hard. The below is a video Lisa did using vintage Biba makeup on Claudia (that's Biba Fever not Bieber Fever).

More pictures!!

 Credits: Image 1Image 2Image 3.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weekly Wish-list

Welcome to 2014! I hope your year has started off swimmingly. As an Australian, my New Years almost always start off swimmingly: gorgeous weather, stunning Sydney beaches, holidays.. So it's no surprise that my latest obsession has been with swimwear. It's actually a long story as to why I was looking for swimwear in the first place, seeing as I've been avoiding shopping like the good girl-who's-going-to-be-living-overseas-for-two-years I am: I lost my well-loved Zimmermann bikini bottoms and Seafolly top. Now, as any good Aussie girl who is slightly interested in fashion and who loves to swim does, naturally, I have more than one piece of swimwear. I have a gorgeous Zimmermann one-piece which was bought in one of those moments where one is so absorbed by how beautiful the piece is without thinking of the practicality of it (it's a pale pink rose number, making me look naked from afar) and a Zimmermann bandeau bikini top. So the choices are: look naked, or wear a bikini top and no bottoms.. (Fine print: This is not to say that I don't absolutely adore the Zimmermann pale pink one-piece. I do still wear it, nothing wrong with looking a little naked from time to time). 

So for the first time ever I was in Sydney on Boxing Day and went out with my sister on a mission: wok, swimmers, wallet (needless to say I bought a few other things as well..) On the search for swimmers I went into Zimmermann, my swimwear designer of choice, to check out the things on sale. Of course, the thing I fell in love with was in fact new season and not a chance of being on sale. I tried it on, probably my biggest mistake, and now I've been obsessed with it ever since.

Entitled: Verano Laser Frill 1 pc

Isn't it gorgeous? Perfect colours, flattering frills, slightly sexy deep neckline.. *sigh*  It also comes in bikini form but it didn't quite strike the same chord with me as the one piece did.

If I were to spend the $$$ on new swimwear which one would get your vote?

P.S I bought a pair of Zimmermann swimmer bottoms on sale at David Jones for $20 that are the same colour as the pair I lost and will work with the bandeau bikini top I have in my drawer already. Round of applause please for being good and saving money.