Written by John Williams
Photography by Carly Van Winkel
Brainchild of distinguished choreographer Shona McCullagh and director Michael Hurst, the inspiration for Club Mystique came from the vaudeville shows of the 1930’s. “Back then, foreign travel was prohibitively expensive for most people, so anything that was from a far off land seemed mysterious and opulent,” she says.
In keeping with the theme, the event promised pyramids and poetic performances, amidst hookah pipes and hors d'ouvres, truths and turbans, all bound together by devilish dancing and shimmying sheiks.
It was also a fantastic opportunity for the NZDC to show off their many talents, alongside some of the country’s most well know faces from TV and film (Michael Hurst, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Lynda Topp, Amanda Billing, Bruce Hopkins, and Arlo Gibson), to an invited audience of guests and patrons… and, of course, to have a bit of fun.
“This was by far our most successful fundraising event to date,” says McCullagh. “As well as raising $62,000 towards our Youth and Community Engagement Programme, which will benefit a large number of young people who do not usually have access to the benefits of dance, we have gained support for our dancers through a Perfect Partners Programme, and opened the door to some new and very supportive relationships.”
Amongst the invited audience was Ray White’s Angela Saunders, a long time supporter of the NZDC, who booked a “star-gazing” table for her guests in support of the event.
“Angela has been a huge supporter of the NZDC for many years now, and has often attended our exhibitions, performances and other fundraising events. We are so grateful for her support,”
At the end of the evening there was a live charity auction, led by Ray White Ponsonby’s Gower Buchanan. “We raised over sixty grand, which was fantastic,” he says. “Amongst other things, we sold a wonderful original by Samoan painter Fatu Feu’u, plus luxury stays in Queenstown and Fiji,” he says.
The highlight of the auction was, however, the $21,000 raised in crowd-funding for NZDC’s Perfect Partner Programme, where dancers are partnered by donors or sponsors to enable full-time employment for them, a huge goal for the company to stop New Zealand’s best talent leaving these shores.
“It was a brilliant night, full of laughter,” says, McCullagh. “The cast were incredibly generous, as were our patrons, and Club Mystique is now set to become an annual event. With it being an exclusive event this year for only 120 people, next year’s tables are already filling which is so exciting!”
The New Zealand Dance Company
Founded by two of New Zealand’s most respected arts professionals, Shona McCullagh and Frances Turner, the New Zealand Dance Company has a long-term vision to create a permanent, high calibre, national contemporary dance company that, from its Auckland base, will represent New Zealand both nationally and internationally.
The vision for NZDC is to create new connections to dance by staging contemporary dance in highly engaging ways and different contexts; in ways that continue to break new ground. They also want to establish and maintain a sustainable home for the company, and create full-time opportunities for its finest practitioners.