Douglas Wright (1956–2018)

Douglas James Wright, dreamer of dances by Jennifer Shennan Douglas Wright, dancer, choreographer, writer, poet, visual artist, has died at the age of 62. An obituary is normally about the deceased, but I begin with my declaration of conflict of interest (actually, deeply shared interest)—namely, that Douglas is the single most important artist in my life. His fearless vision through an astonishingly prolific artistic output moved us beyond comf…

Douglas Wright—the last dance. Tempo Dance Festival Online video viewing

…stage, within the choreography The Kiss Inside. (Sky City, Auckland, 2015) Douglas Wright in his solo from The Kiss Inside, 2015. Photo: © Pippa Samaya A giant tree branch is suspended overhead. Trees exist both above and below ground. Douglas always was a dendrophile, so there are echoes for us of his first choreography for RNZBallet, decades ago, The Decay of Lying—and of the later works, A Far Cry and Forever. Here Douglas walks on stage, bare…

Between Two. Kelly Nash and Douglas Wright

…is a nod to Morpheus, the god of dreams, opens with the recorded voice of Douglas Wright instructing us ‘Please close your eyes’ and so we do. After a minute or two ‘Please open your eyes’ and so we do. The scene is now set with a prone figure in a shroud, his head beneath a regular kitchen chair. Three knocks of the baroque conductor’s baton on the floor to warn us that the theatre-piece is about to start, that we should steady ourselves, and so…

The Kiss Inside. Douglas Wright Dance Company

…ive countries have made available to them over decades. Wim Wenders in his celebrated film, Pina, has done her  proud. Leanne Pooley in her splendid documentary, Haunting Douglas, has done the same for Douglas Wright, and us. Jennifer Shennan, 8 April 2016 Featured image: Dancers of Douglas Wright Dance Company in The Kiss Inside. Photo: © Matt Grace. New Zealand Festival, 2016…

The DANZ season of Limbs @ 40. Tempo Dance Festival

…y Unitec dancers. Emily Hancock, Oliver Carruthers and Atalya Loveridge in Douglas Wright’s Knee Dance. Photo: © Amanda Billing Perhaps Can is a sensuous solo for a skirted woman who does a kind of slow motion flamenco number to Miles Davis’ The Pan Piper. A reverie, made in 1979 by O’Reilly. There’s a view which might see each of Douglas Wright’s works as talisman. Nonetheless, that would be a fair claim for Quartet, to Vivaldi, first performed i…

2018—New Zealand Dance Year in Retrospect

…Alex Leonhartsberger in the lead male role. Alex has previously danced in Douglas Wright productions and it was a renewed thrill to see him in this season. Keegan-Dolan’s work has interested me intensely for some years and I rate him, with Lin Hwai Min and Douglas Wright, as the three choreographers who have kept my world turning for decades. An intriguing new project, under the auspices of this Festival, will next year have Keegan-Dolan in resid…

From 1993 …

…ING VEILSydney Dance CompanyOpera Theatre, Sydney Opera HouseNovember 1993 Douglas Wright’s 1990 piece Gloria and Graeme Murphy’s new The Protecting Veil opened what turned out to be a thrilling season of dance. Gloria, performed to Vivaldi’s choral piece of the same name, is Wright’s tribute to a friend who died at twenty. It is, on the one hand, a joyous piece that celebrates life with an outpouring of dance that is full of vigour and vitality….

The Russell Kerr Lecture, February 2020

…er, meteor. Tracing metaphors in the work of dancer, choreographer, writer Douglas Wright, 1956–2018. The opening dance performed was a menuet danced by Anne Rowse and Keith McEwing, to menuets 1 & 2 from the Partita no.1, J. S. Bach, played by Hamish Robb. The lecture began with my story of an encounter with Wright: Douglas Wright pressed me to show him how the technique and music of baroque dance worked, sensing it as a seeding ground for much o…

Swan Lake—Loch na hEala. Michael Keegan-Dolan

…Dying Swan for our time (as Kilda Northcott was a few years back, muse to Douglas). Keegan-Dolan is to Ireland what Wright has always been to New Zealand, and that has to be my highest praise to them both. Kia ora korua. Salute to the pair of you. Rachel Poirier as Finola in Michael Keegan-Dolan’s Loch na eHala (Swan Lake). Wellington, 2018 W. B. Yeats’ poem, The Wild Swans at Coole, resonates with great birds ‘mysterious, beautiful’ that in turn…

The Royal New Zealand Ballet at 60. Jennifer Shennan & Anne Rowse

…oach to a role and their thoughts as they prepare for and then perform it. Wright’s essay is followed by a poem, ‘Herd’ written by Wright and beginning with the delicious line ‘a herd of cows does not need a choreographer’. Readers may be surprised at how the poem ends too! One typo in the book makes me wince somewhat. In Una Kai’s essay (Kai was director from 1973−1975), which is interesting for a whole variety of reasons, Lew Christensen’s name…