Ballet with a mature rating

It’s sexy, half-naked, mattress-using ballet and it’s coming to Wellington this weekend.

Mattress Suite is part of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Allegro showcase.

The dancers wear underwear and the six segments include solos, duets and an all-male dance Threeway. All action is centred around one main prop – the mattress.

The ballet explores sexual identity and relationships, which has meant Allegro comes with a “for mature audiences” warning.

But rehearsal director Ashley Browne said that while the theme of the piece was mature, it was one that should be talked about.

“It really explores relationships, whether that’s with yourself, another person or multiple people,” she said.

“There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation.

“It’s definitely more of a mature theme, but it doesn’t mean that this shouldn’t be talked about.

“How do people become mature They tackle mature issues. Bodies are bodies.

“We move in space with people everyday. Most of the time teens I talk to and perform with are way more game to tackle it than adults.”

Mattress Suite is the creation of New Yorker Larry Keigwin. The Allegro tour is the first time it has been performed outside the United States.

Browne, a member of Keigwin’s ballet company, said despite the obvious sexual overtones, it was not risque.

“The only thing that makes it risque is that it’s performed in underwear,” she said.

“But we all wear underwear and we get the lucky job of sitting there and watching beautiful, toned dancers.

“I don’t think risque is the right word. It is in the conservative setting of it being about personal relationships, but these are all feelings that people have everyday.

“The underwear just makes it identifiable to everybody.”

Teaching it to the Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers had been great, she said.

“Every dancer’s a little treasure chest of talent.

“Technically they can do whatever I want.

“But the biggest gift is their willingness to take direction and to let me push them further than they have gone before.

“I’ve worked with them a lot on the acting part of it. I’m seeing a great depth to the piece, because they’re open and willing to go there with me.”

The emotion of the dances made it fun to watch, she said.

“It’s a lot of fun to perform and it’s been fun to work with the dancers and coach them on how to be playful with each other.

“Ballet can be very formal and I’m asking them to roll around and giggle on stage.

“Dance is fun and should be fun for the audience as well.”

Her favourite part of the piece was the last female solo.

“It really breaks it down in such a way that it becomes about self love. If you can’t, at last, love yourself, then can you love anyone else. You have to bring a real honesty to that.”

– Royal New Zealand Ballet presents Allegro, St James Theatre, Courtenay Place, August 15 and 16, 7.30pm, August 16 and 17, 1.30pm, tickets from or the box office.

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– The Wellingtonian