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Chiang Mai Ballet Academy at the Kad Theatre

First public performance by the Spirit House Singers

Birthday boy Somsak goes Lanna


Chiang Mai Ballet Academy at the Kad Theatre

Performances of three spectacular ballets delight audience

Months of dedicated training and rehearsals by dancers of all ages, from the tiny beginners to the fully developed young adults, the teachers, and the Director of the Chiang Mai Ballet Academy Mom Luang Preeyapun Sridhavat drew to a highly successful close on Sunday June 1 at the Kad Theatre in Kad Suan Kaew. The performance, comprising three ballets of differing styles, was held as a tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 80th birthday. Consequently, the first ballet, Kinnaree Waltz, choreographed by Jill Firth, a well known UK choreographer and teacher, was set to subtly atmospheric music composed by His Majesty and was dedicated to him.

The pas-de deux from La Bayadere, Act 1, scene 3, danced by Peera Phanlukthao, (Solor the Warrior), and Sorawee Thongkumkhoon, (Princess Gamzatti).
The “main attraction” of the evening, especially to the parents of the young dancers who had crowded the theatre, was the Jazz/Modern dance ballet, Peter Pan 2008, based on the famous childrens’ story by J.M Barrie, and specially choreographed for the occasion by teachers at the Academy. The stars of this narrative ballet were undoubtedly Amit Grinvald as Peter Pan, who gave a touching interpretation of the magic boy who refuses to grow up, Shan del Vecchio, who danced Captain Hook with abandon and obvious enjoyment, and the amazing Megumi Nishimori as Tinkerbell, delighting the audience with her brilliant technique and talent for interpretation. The winner of many international dance prizes, she is surely headed for fame as a prima ballerina in a major international dance company. Book Kitavahana, the famous Thai classical singer, gave his time generously to perform as Mr. Darling, delighting the audience with his voice and musicality. An absolute joy were the massed students of the Academy, some as young as 5 years old, dancing, fantastically costumes, as anything and everything from stars, bees and butterflies to mermaids, racoons and crocodiles! The energy shown by the entire cast, (particularly as it was the second performance that day), in what proved to be a long ballet with many different scenes, amazed the audience. Chiang Mai’s own Pim Kemasingki, ably aided by John Wright, gave a beautifully spoken bi-lingual explanatory commentary for those in the audience who were not familiar with the tale itself.

Peter, (Amit Grinvald), and Captain Hook, (Shan del Vecchio), in their final duel, with the crocodile lurking to the right of the ship.
The final ballet was selected from the famous classical Russian ballet based on an Indian theme, “La Bayadere”, with Act 1 scene 3 being the chosen section. Choreographed by Marius Petipa, and first performed at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 23, 1877, it is, in a sense, a “lost” ballet in its entirety, with only the 3rd act being performed nowadays with its original Petipa choreography. Wonderfully colourful, with a high standard of dancing, beautiful costumes, and outstanding performances by Sorawee Thongkumkoon as Princess Gamzatti, Ramitta Khetphummuang as Nikiya the temple dancer, and Peera Phanlukthao as Solor, the warrior, whose splendid performance which was anticipated by his dancing in the first ballet, Kinnaree Waltz. Anucha Sumaman gave an outstanding performance as the Hindu Bronze Idol, delighting everyone with his flexibility and technique.
All in all, a superb evening, the second of the two performances that day, of which Mom Luang Preeyapun and her staff must be exceptionally pleased, as were the audience! The beneficiaries from the performance will be the Red Cross in Chiang Mai, and the Northern Mentally Retarded Peoples’ Welfare Centre, under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand.

The Hindu Bronze Idol, danced brilliantly by Anucha Sumaman.

A scene from the Jazz/Modern ballet Peter Pan 2008, showing Amit Grinvald as Peter and Megumi Nishimori as Tinkerbell.


First public performance by the Spirit House Singers

A concert of madrigals and Renaissance music

‘Here will we sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony.’ - William Shakespeare

Steve, pictured here with his partner Wanchai, outside his amazing restaurant and bar, the Spirit House.
On Saturday, May 31, the newly formed Spirit House Singers gave their inaugural concert of madrigals and Renaissance music at the Spirit House Restaurant and Bar on Soi Vienbua off Chotana Road. The venue itself has a magical air; on stepping inside one is greeted with walls hung with colourful traditional fabrics and seating areas separated by cabinets and tables piled with Thai and Lanna antique boxes, figures, ceramics, Buddhas, textiles and all manner of decorative arts. The backdrop to the stage itself is a huge carved wood spirit house. Beaded six feet long lampshades hang from the ceiling, casting a soft glow over the spectacular interior. The magic continues in the garden, with a ruined Chedi surrounded by trees shadowing the tables.
The idea for the Spirit House Singers started last November, when David Crisp, having performed in and directed early music in the UK, met up with Steve and Wanchai, the owners of the Spirit House. Steve, a classical music fanatic, was in the antiques business for 13 years, which, of course, explains the stunning and original décor of the place. Under David’s direction, the Spirit House Singers started with 2 or 3 people and very quickly grew into a large band of “merry men & women” - many of whom were already in the Chiang Mai Choral Society - having fun singing “something a little bit different”.
After a period of rehearsal, their first public performance took place to a full house. Their first offering, ‘Summer is i’cumin’ in’, an Olde English Round, was quickly followed by “Though Philomela lost her love” by Thomas Morley. The concert ran for over an hour, delighting the audience with music including “a capella” (unaccompanied) singing and solo instrumental interludes. David Crisp explained some of the more obscure historical references, including the legendary origin of the phrase “Swan Song”, in which a swan sings only once during its lifetime - shortly before its death! As many of the singers were associated with FERC, the Foundation for the Education of Rural Children, it seemed appropriate there was a collection made for this worthwhile charity. For those who were unable to come to the restaurant, there was also a repeat performance at the Gallery of the Chiang Mai University Art Museum on Sunday, June 1.
Anyone wishing to join this merry bunch of singers should be interested in “a capella” singing and can contact David on 085 723 1723, and anyone who wants to enjoy a meal or a night out at a unique restaurant should certainly visit the Spirit House!

The Spirit House Singers enchant the audience.

Birthday boy Somsak goes Lanna

Somsak Chalachol, hairstylist to the stars, celebrates in Chiang Mai

It had to be THE birthday party of the year, the party not to be missed! After celebrating previous birthdays including ‘X Diamond Collection 2004’, Somsak Chalachol, hairstylist to the stars, chose the Ratilanna Riverside Hotel in Chiang Mai to celebrate his birthday on June 1. A three-times winner of the prestigious King’s Cup, Somsak represented the Hair Stylists’ Association of Thailand Queen’s Cup in the World Hairstyling contest for four consecutive years, an unprecedented honour.

The birthday boy arrives!
This year’s chosen theme for the party was “The Ultimate Lanna Elegance Style”. JoJo, from the Public Relations & Marketing’s Association of Northern Thailand, was picked to arrange the event. Celebrities from Bangkok joined our very own HiSos from Chiang Mai, attended by a large crowd of very attentive paparazzi from both cities.
The invited guests began to arrive after 6:30 pm, and included Dr George Sioris, the US Consul General Michael Morrow, Anchalee Kalmapijit, and Darunee Krittabunya. All settled into the sala beside the river, and spent time admiring each others’ amazing costumes and stunning outfits. Partygoers were invited to pose with a selection of scantily-clad Thai guys, and received a photograph as a memo of that delightful experience! A number of guests, it has to be said, repeated said experience more than once…! Tannanon Willson was almost certainly responsible for many of the fabulous outfits, along with Wit from Hairpro - whose salons must have been busy all day. ‘Super Richie’ was the MC for the evening, which included a continuous buffet of Thai specialities on the river lawn throughout the party, to ensure that no-one went hungry - or thirsty!

Dr Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai with Darunee Krittabunya.
Honoured guest, Dr Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai arrived at 8 pm, signifying that the show was about to begin, followed by the Grand Entrance to end all grand entrances - the birthday boy himself, arriving by boat accompanied by fireworks, and carried by hunky young Thai guys in procession with exquisite Thai beauties to the reception area. The setting was pure Lanna - as one would imagine in ancient times. Somsak was then received by Dr Chao Duangduan na Chiengmai, who performed the ‘siasim’ blessing ceremony and tied the strings around his wrist.

All dressed up with a great place to go are Anchalee Kalmapijit, Esther Ting and Shannon Morrow.
After everyone had their photographs taken, the spectacular entertainment began, featuring the Sultraporn Drag Queen Show, followed by a Karaoke session and free dancing. Guests even came from other parties, (Pim and John Wright were the MCs at the Ballet at Kad Suan Kaew - but popped in - not wanting to miss out!). Later in the night, a huge birthday cake was carried in by four young men, to yet more clinking of glasses. The night will surely be remembered for many years to come by those fortunate enough to have been invited. A number of words spring to mind - fabulous, ostentatious, jaw-dropping; and definitely a never to be outdone night of a hundred stars.
If you are planning a special event - why not invite [email protected]

JoJo, who organised the party, with Treechada Slaven,
Khun Noi and Sumale Phunkaew.

Ambassador and Mrs Sioris (centre) posing for the paparazzi.