Tutus 'n Town Halls is a one-hour documentary that deals candidly with sex, sore feet and the finer points of junk food in rural New Zealand.
When the Royal New Zealand Ballet decided to send itself on a five-week tour of small towns, the dancers knew they would be faced with some dodgy conditions in run-down halls.
Twizel. Alexandra. Putaruru. Taihape.
The brave ballerinas just had to pick themselves up and rise to the occasion. On stages that weren't flat, with possums in the roof, fuse boxes that couldn't cope, 'unisex dressing rooms' and the inevitable round of injuries.
'People in the cities think it's a bit quaint ' says company manager Brendan Meek, 'that we play these small towns, people wear suits and ties and it''s a big deal, one of the largest social events on the calendar for the year.
'But the audience arrives with a great sense of expectation, and they want to be blown out of their seats regardless of the fact that the stage is 8 x 6 and there's not enough power.'
Tutus 'n Town Halls was filmed earlier in the year (March-April 2001) in both the North and South islands during a selection of the 47 night schedule. In many ways, the 'Road Tour' echoes the RNZB's pioneering days - a few dancers deserting the safety of the city to perform endless one-night stands in out-of-the-way places.
On tour the dancers and crew encounter the home-baking and true community spirit of the country, as well as making legions of new fans. Men and women who had never seen the ballet before in their lives packed out their local town halls.
Tutus 'n Town Halls is part-road trip, part-performance piece and shot right behind the scenes. Showcasing the work of Kiwi choreographers Shannon Dawson, Toby Behan and Cameron McMillan, the programme moves easily from sounds as varied as jazz guitar and Kiwi rockers Head Like A Hole, to cheesy French lounge music. It also includes the classical tutus and frills that thrill traditional ballet audiences.
As one Westport punter says, the show 'should be x-rated. The first [dance] was exuberant, the second exhilarating, and that last one was exhausting'.
And so it is with the documentary. There's something for everyone.
Production Year: 2001
Producer: Gary Scott
Director: Gary Scott
Duration: 46 mins
Outline: A behind-the-scenes documentary following a hectic five-week road trip as the Royal New Zealand Ballet takes its unique brand of dance out to small-town New Zealand. Dancers brave tiny stages, dodgy wiring and rickety town halls to entertain audiences in the heartland.