On behalf of the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ), may I extend our appreciation to you and your team for your excellent books review coverage in New Zealand Books Pukapuka Aotearoa in 2018.
At a time when other media have reduced the column inches they devote to books, you and your publication have shown your faith in the continued relevance of New Zealand books and writing to informed readers.
That relevance is shown with sales of New Zealand published books up close to +2 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year, strong international sales for local authors, record attendance at writers festivals, and a boom in children’s publishing.
We look forward to your reviews and analysis in 2019.
President, Publishers Association of New Zealand
Jennifer Shennan’s review (NZB Summer 2018) of Marianne Schultz’s history of the Limbs Dance Company (LDC) gives credit where credit’s due, but while she mentions omissions of historical figures such as Margaret Barr and Freda Stark, she herself fails to mention LDC’s significant precursors, John Casserley’s Modern Dance Group from the later 1960s and early-to-mid 1970s.
A lecturer of dance at Otago University’s School of Physical Education in the later ’60s Casserley formed this group from his students and toured the country with the aid of the New Zealand Universities Students’ Arts Council and private supporters such as Wellington’s Tup Lang, with often sell-out houses and very enthusiastic audiences having their first experience of modern dance. Many of the dances were choreographed by Casserley, one of the more memorable being Faces, based on Janet Frame’s novel Faces in the Water.
In the early 1970s when he was associate professor of dance at California’s University of the Pacific at Stockton, Casserley continued touring here annually, with more experienced dancers. In what turned out to be the final tour in 1975, he commissioned a range of New Zealand artists to collaborate on a piece called Song Cycle: they were Ralph Hotere, Bill Manhire and Jack Body, and it remains a significant moment in our dance history. The 19-year-old Douglas Wright was greatly inspired by it, for instance. Casserley’s pioneering achievement began creating an audience that Limbs surfed in on.