The Red Dress – Giveaway!


The Red Dress is an award-winning dance drama by the China Ningbo Performance & Arts Group tells the touching love story of a young man and a young woman from two rich families in an ancient town in southern China. Sweethearts since they were young, they fall in love and then move apart.  The promise of marriage makes the beautiful bride-to-be wait for years with her dream of a red wedding dress.


The Red Dress is playing at the Palais Theatre on Tuesday 10 March at 7pm and Wednesday 11 March at 7pm. Bookings via

The Red Dress

The Red Dress, Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda

Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 March 7pm

Ticketmaster or 136 100

Tickets from $24.00 to $70.00

Giveaway! Thanks to The Red Dress I have 2 x double passes valued at $140 to give away for the performance on Tuesday 10 March at 7pm.

To win, just follow the instructions. Competition closes midnight Wednesday 4 March. and the winners will be selected randomly. Good luck!

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THRILLER LIVE is a spectacular concert production that celebrates the music of Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. The 2 hour show features non-stop hits, high-energy choreography and dancing and Michael’s innovative dance moves, video footage, a myriad of effects and dazzling costumes.


THRILLER LIVE has played in London’s West End for six capacity years since 2009 and it premieres in Australia in Perth on 10 December, then tours nationally to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.  Two of the stars on this tour will be Australian’s MiG Ayesa and Prinnie Stevens who have just performed the roles in the West End, London.


THRILLER LIVE  is a homage of Michael Jackson’s 45 year musical history and contains all of Jackson’s favourite songs. Don’t miss it!

THRILLER LIVE, Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre

Wednesday 28 January to Sunday 8 February, 2015

Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday – Friday 8pm, Saturday 4pm & 8pm, Sunday 1pm and 6pm

Tickets from $69.90. (Booking and transaction fees may apply.)

Bookings: ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE 1300 182 183 or

Groups 10+ SAVE! Call Group Bookings 1300 002 787

Giveaway! Thanks to THRILLER LIVE I have 2 x double passes to give away for the opening night Wednesday 28 January. To win all you have to do is follow the instructions below. Two winners will be randomly selected and notified via email and tickets posted out. Competition closes midnight Monday 8 December. Good luck!

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Arts Centre Winter Season + Einstein on the Beach Giveaway!

Winter in Melbourne is a great excuse to hide indoors and get cultured – and today one of my favourite Melbourne arts venues, Arts Centre Melbourne, launches its Winter season of dance, opera, puppetry and more.

Some of the highlights of the Winter season include Penny Plain, a beautifully dark apocalyptic puppetry comedy; Einstein on the Beachan epic and ground-breaking opera/contemporary dance fusion; Proximity, a contemporary dance performance captured and artistically manipulated through videography; and  Botanica a beautifully mesmerising family-friendly performance featuring spectacular costumes, inspiring dance and theatre.

Arts Centre Melbourne Winter season

Giveaway! Thanks to Arts Centre Melbourne I have 2 x A reserve tickets to opening night of Einstein on the Beach (valued at $278) for Wednesday 31 July 6:30pm. Einstein on the Beach is returning to Melbourne for the first time in 21 years for an exclusive season from 31 July to 4 August at Arts Centre Melbourne as part of a major international tour. Note that it runs for four-and-a-half hours without an interval but the audience is able to leave and re-enter the auditorium as they wish. To win the tickets all you have to do is leave a comment and a winner will be randomly drawn on Friday 12 July. Good luck!
And the winner is #4 Kate – an email has been sent to you!
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HOT: Vanguard, The Australian Ballet, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne


Every year The Australian Ballet features a triple bill of shorter ballet works in its repertoire and this year they present ‘Vanguard‘ – three contemporary works from ballet’s game-changers George Balanchine, Jiri Kylián and Wayne McGregor.

I always enjoy the triple bills because they give me a chance to dip into works from different choreographers and they showcase the ballet company’s ability to switch between different styles and techniques.

My favourite piece was the first presentation of Balachine’s The Four Temperaments. Its classical form is exactly the kind of abstract ballet that I like – clean and pure lines, complete focus on the precision of the dancers (and not on costumes and sets) and with a little bit of humour sprinkled in.

The second work was Bella Figura (1995) by Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, most famously of Nederlands Dance Theatre. The dark set and Baroque soundtrack gave the ballet a tone reminiscent the deep fires of hell, in sharp contrast to the white ‘heavenly’ brightness of the Balachine. The choreography was dynamic and discomforting in an interesting and provocative way, with little absurd touches to develop a creative tension that made me feel slightly anxious. There was also partial nudity in the piece which, whether you like it or not, can make you feel a little squirmy. RM said he didn’t know where to look….

The last piece by British choreographer Wayne McGregor was my least favourite. The constant, almost manic, movements felt relentless to the point of tediousness and I felt that it lacked the light and shade needed to let the audience breathe and absorb what was going on. However, the dancing on the work by the company was almost faultless so I have to distinguish between disliking the work and liking the actual performance of the work.

While I didn’t enjoy everything I saw the beauty of a triple bill is that you don’t have to like it all – in 45 minutes you’ll be watching something else. And when I eavesdropped on some audience reactions it seemed that other people had the opposite reaction to me – hated the robotic Balachine and loved the push and drive of the McGregor.

Whichever way you fall, Vanguard is a masterful display of The Australian Ballet‘s talents. And even better for one night only at the 6:30pm performance on Friday 14 June you can set your own ticket price to see it at the Arts Centre Melbourne! Pay What You Can Ballet means exactly that – just pay whatever you like for your ticket (though there is a $10 minimum). Tickets are available ONLY by phone on 1300 369 741 or in person at both The Australian Ballet Box Office and Arts Centre Melbourne Box Office. Tickets are selling fast and here’s a little taste of what you’ll experience.

 VanguardThe Australian Ballet, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

6–17 June 2013
Bookings | 1300 369 741

HOT: Lisa Tomasetti “Behind the Scenes: The Australian Ballet on the International Stage”, James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood

HOT: Lisa Tomasetti "Behind the Scenes: The Australian Ballet on the International Stage", James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood

Dancers have provided inspiration for artists for centuries. I think it’s a dancer’s constant search for the perfect line and form and the potential expressiveness and passion of the human body which fascinates photographers, painters and sculptors.

Sydney based artist Lisa Tomasetti currently has a free exhibition of photographs she took for the Australian Ballet over a number of years which takes audiences ‘behind the scenes’. Not so much behind the scenes in terms of viewing rehearsals, watching from the wings or access into dressing rooms, but rather taking the dancers off the stage and onto the street during their international tours to Tokyo, New York and Paris.

The large scale works pose ballerinas in their classical costumes performing amazing dance feats and juxtaposed against recognisable urban environments – the faceless black-clad commuters of a Tokyo subway station, next to a cop car on the streets of Manhattan or in front of a metro sign in Paris. Some of the pairings are so incongruous that it’s as if the dancers have been photoshopped into their background, particularly when they’re captured while suspended in mid-air.

My top three favourite images all come from New York.

Lisa Tomasetti Behind the

The first is of Amy Harris on Brooklyn Bridge. I love that bridge as a piece of architecture and the lines of wire and wood and the spaces created between them are echoed in the sculptural style of the ballerina’s concertina tutu from Divertimento which is also constructed from a traditional building material – air conditioning pipes (the tutu is currently on display at NGV as part of their Ballet and Fashion exhibition). Amy also looks like she’s spontaneously leaping for joy!
HOT: Lisa Tomasetti "Behind the Scenes: The Australian Ballet on the International Stage", James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood

My second favourite picture is of Reiko Hombo arching into a leap in front of a neon American flag. I like that it’s contemporary and modern without speaking specifically of a particular time or place (it was taken in Times Square). And the form in that jete is so graceful yet powerfully explosive at the same time, with her hair flying tightly around her head.

HOT: Lisa Tomasetti "Behind the Scenes: The Australian Ballet on the International Stage", James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood

Similarly I love the Amber Scott in ‘The Highline’. Again I like the fact that it’s an urban landscape at first glance and only with more attention does it become clear that it’s the skyline of Manhattan, with the Empire State Building peeking out on the left. I like how Amber seems to be ecstatically enraptured by the expanse of the city.

Fans of dance and photography shouldn’t miss this exhibition and limited edition prints of each of the works are available for sale in a large or small format from James Makin Gallery. To view more images click here.

 Lisa Tomasetti “Behind the Scenes: The Australian Ballet on the International Stage”, James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood +61 3 9416 3966

7th – 30th March 2013

Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm, Sunday – Monday by appointment

HOT: Don Quixote, The Australian Ballet, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Don Quixote Australian Ballet State Theatre Arts Centre Melbourne

The Australian Ballet opens its 2013 season with a classic ballet from the company’s repertoire – Don Quixote, as interpreted by Rudolf Nureyev for The Australian Ballet back in 1970.

Though I’ve been going to the ballet for decades, for whatever reason Don Quixote has passed me by until now so I had to brush up on the plot before I attended the opening night performance as a guest of the ballet.

Thanks to my pre-reading I was prepared for a convoluted storyline based on the Cervantes novel, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the farcical and ridiculous tone. On the one hand you could view the slapstick as lighthearted and cheery (as my date did). On the other hand I thought that the flounce-and-bounce, while comical at times, meant that the ballet lacked the emotional charge that you would find in say Romeo and Juliet or even Swan Lake, which arguably also has an outlandish plot.

Fortunately, the excellent dancing made up for the lack of dramatic engagement. There were a few mishaps on the first night, with wobbles, dropped props and an obviously missed lift front and centre of the stage, but overall I was impressed by the performances by the principal leads Daniel Gaudiello and Lana Jones as the two young lovers, Basilio and Kitri and as always, by the energy of my favourite male soloist Chengwu Guo.

Gaudiello was a joy to watch, with the incredible lightness of his footwork and as he floated through the air in his jumps it was as if he was suspended by wire. The beautiful Jones produced moments of impressive technical brilliance, with pirouettes and fouettes turns galore.

As for the company the most enjoyable part for me was in Scene 2 Act 2 which had the corps de ballet displaying graceful balanced lines and perfect unison. It was enjoyable purely for the aesthetics of its choreography and I liked the classically moulded tutus much more than the flouncy dresses and bell-shaped skirts worn by the women in the other acts.

After my first taste of Don Quixote I can honestly say it’s not my favourite ballet. But I think it is a fun night for a dance fan if you just want to sit back and enjoy a performance that’s not too emotionally taxing. Its light-hearted antics and vibrant costumes also might mean that it’s a performance especially suitable for children who have the stamina to sit through a 2.5 hour performance.

Don Quixote is only showing until 26 March and you can get a sneak preview of highlights here.  Also if you own an Entertainment Book then you can currently buy 1 get 1 free Adult ticket (A, B or C-Reserve) until 5pm Monday 18 March and the offer is valid for performances on 19. 20 and 21 March.


Don Quixote, The Australian Ballet, State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
15 – 26 March (13 performances)
Bookings | 1300 369 741

Summer Season at Arts Centre Melbourne – Giveaway!

Hello summer!

Arts Centre Melbourne has a fantastic season of events lined up for the summer and I have 2 x double passes to give away for one of their highlight performances.

Blaze, an amazing street dance concert which premiered in London’s West End featuring 12 of the best streetdancers and breakers in the world, against a digital backdrop designed by Es Devlin, designer for Kanye West, Mika, Take That, Pet Shop Boys and Lady Gaga. On BLAZE performance days, the public spaces in and around Hamer Hall will also have free music, dance and street art performances as part of the Bring It! program. The 2 x double passes are for the performance on Wednesday 23 January 8pm.

To win all you have to do is leave a comment below. The two winners will be randomly selected and announced on Monday 14 January. Good luck!

PS if you’re a parent and want to go into the draw for cultural school holiday events then hop onto my family/parenting blog TOT: HOT OR NOT for a series of giveaways in the the next week.

The winners are Angelique and Ashley – an email has been sent to you both!

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HOT: Ballet & Fashion, National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

As soon as I found out about NGV’s latest fashion exhibition ‘Ballet & Fashion‘ I knew I had to visit. I love ballet, I love ballet costumes and I love fashion, and I was curious to see what kind of items they had on display.

Given the number of fashion designers who have collaborated with ballet companies around the world over time, including The Australian Ballet, I was surprised by the small scale of this exhibition. There are only about 20 costumes in total – albeit designed by famous local and international designers such as Collette Dinnigan and Christian Lacroix. I’ve visited the costume department of The Australian Ballet and believe me there are a lot more fabulous tutus in the archives!

Nevertheless, if you’re going to NGV International anyway then the two rooms are worth visiting – the exhibition is free. I particularly loved the wild headdresses made by local milliner Richard Nylon and the delicate brocade, silk tulle and organza embroidered costumes designed for Romeo and Juliet by Akira Isogawa.

From the cheap seats you don’t get to appreciate the intricate detail and craftsmanship that goes into making a ballet costume and the accompanying video is interesting for its insight into Akira’s work with the cast and then watching the dancers bring the clothes alive.

Finally, for those with little ones you may be interested to know that Collette Dinnigan has collaborated with The Australian Ballet and Target to design a range of ballet-inspired party wear for girls aged 3-8 years. The collection will start selling on November 21 online and in store. Judging by the Collette Dinnigan tutu on display at this exhibition, I’m sure it will all be beautiful and adorable!

Ballet & Fashion, NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd

3 November 2012 – 19 May 2013

Next Wave Festival 2012 – Day Pass Giveaway!

I’ve been a fan of Next Wave Festival since I volunteered to man a Docklands shipping container/arts space for the festival years ago.

Well, Next Wave Festival 2012 opens next Saturday (19-27 May) and this year they’re running a bit of an experiment to help you discover a new way of experiencing an arts festival.

With a festival Day Pass you can spend a day with a series of works that explores a theme relevant to our contemporary world,  from gender politics to climate change, fantastic imaginary worlds to our ability to perceive the truth. The day starts with discussions the Breakfast Club, a discussion about how the world and art collide over breakfast at the Wheeler Centre, before setting off on an adventure experienced through visual art, performance, dance, live art and more – with plenty of stop-overs for food, drinks and discussion.

Tours are led by an informed art guide and audiences will be taken into Melbourne’s most interesting places, to view the some of Australia’s most interesting artists.

Plus each Day Pass holder will receive some cool goodies with their pass – a Crumpler Tuft water-resistant pouch, a myki filled with enough credit to get you around from show to show (then keep it and top it up for everyday use!) and discounts at the tastiest spots in North Melbourne to help you refuel between shows, such as Grigons & OrrToastOld Melbourne CafeSensible Sandwich and more.

Day Passes start are $20-$56 (plus booking fee) and there’s a different pass for each day of the festival.  You can also check out other Next Wave Festival events at

Giveaway! Thanks to Next Wave Festival I have a Double Day Pass for Tuesday 22 May…totally worth chucking a sickie for! To win all you have to do is a leave a comment below and the winner will be drawn next Friday 18 May. Good luck!

And the winner of the double pass to Melbourne Museum’s The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia is…Theresa! Your prize will be posted out to you.

HOT: The Peony Pavilion, National Ballet of China, Arts Centre Melbourne,

The Peony Pavilion is an intricate classical Ming Dynasty tale about love lost and found and the story of The Peony Pavilion has now been brought to the dance stage by National Ballet of China. They are performing exclusively in Australia with National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra for five performances only at the Arts Centre Melbourne.  Thanks to the Arts Centre I was invited to attend the opening night.<

I had previously seen the National Ballet of China perform in Melbourne and was most impressed by the company’s technique, lyricism and flow, as well as their sumptuous costumes and sets (considering they were travelling from China). This production is no different.

I think two factors make the ballets from the China different from the productions from Western ballet companies, despite Chinese ballet companies evolving their style from Russian ballet traditions.

Firstly there’s the melding of East and West in the music and staging. In this case, the score included the bowing of the erhu (a Chinese stringed instrument) and the clanging of symbols to highlight dramatic tension as in Chinese opera. On stage a female Chinese opera singer interspersed the dancing with her high lilting sung narrative, traditionally affected gestures and floating gait.

Secondly, the homogeneity of the dancers is quite notable. Naturally all of the dancers have dark hair and dark eyes and slender fine-boned limbs but from afar the women in the corps de ballet were all the same height and same body shape (as were the men I think but the effect was less striking). When the dancers moved in a tight mass in unison the effect was very impressive.

Besides the obvious agility, lightness and delicate strength of the dancers I was particularly struck by the simple staging – they could have gone the route of Chinese opera gilt but have opted for bold lighting and the dramatic sweep of a calligraphers pen, an oversize hanging willow bough and a central suspended platform adjusted to great effect. The corps de ballet costumes were similarly simple yet beautiful – lots of chiffon and silks wafting and billowing on lithe limbs, just beautiful to watch.

You don’t really need to understand the inner workings of the story behind The Peony Pavilion to appreciate the ballet and in fact after reading and re-reading the program notes I was no more knowledgeable about the plot. The story has been described as the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet – shorthand for a tragic romance between young lovers. Though in this case there’s a neat deus ex machina ending clearing away the tragedy – apparently the traditional Chinese opera version of the story runs for 20 hours so you’d hope there’d be some happiness at the end of it. The ballet’s dramatic ending procession marked with the beautiful flower fall was the highlight of the show for me.

Whether or not you like Chinese folk tales or Chinese opera, if you like ballet you will love the beauty and artistry of The Peony Pavilion. Get a taste for the spectacle by watching this trailer or check out The Age’s lovely photo gallery.

The Peony Pavilion, National Ballet of China, State Theatre

15 – 18 March