Dance News Australia

New Zealand Dance News – February

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

Two dynamic New Zealand contemporary dance companies will perform at one of Europe’s most prestigious dance festivals this month. Okareka Dance Company and The New Zealand Dance Company have been invited to perform at the 2014 Holland Dance Festival. The festival attracts international audiences to see performances by choreographers and dancers from all over the world.

This opportunity comes at a great time for Okareka, with the company focusing on increasing its presence in Europe. For The New Zealand Dance Company, it will be an international debut; a promising milestone for the young company. Each company will give three performances as well as host dance workshops.

Creative New Zealand contributed towards travel, freight and remounting costs for both companies through its International Presentation Fund, which supports touring of high-quality New Zealand work.

This is the second year that New Zealand companies have performed at the Holland Dance Festival. Douglas Wright Dance presented the work Rapt last year, also with Creative New Zealand support.

The Holland Dance Festival runs from 25 January – 15 February 2014. For more information, visit the Holland Dance Festival website at


Emilia Rubio (of Touch Compass Dance Company) and Suzanne Cowan perform ‘Pharmakos.’ Photo by John McDermott.

Performance artist/choreographer Suzanne Cowan has won three prestigious awards. A doctoral student in the Dance Studies Programme at the University of Auckland, Suzanne has been awarded the June Opie Fellowship, the Ian Campbell Scholarship, and an AMP National Scholarship in recognition of her research and work in the fields of contemporary dance and disability. 

Suzanne’s latest work Pharmakos is part of the Performance Arcade series in the New Zealand Festival Visual Arts Programme in Wellington. Housed in a waterfront shipping container, the work is an installation inspired by Shibari, the Japanese art of rope-tying. Suzanne, who uses a wheelchair as the result of a car accident, will perform with dancer/collaborator Emilia Rubio to raise questions about vulnerability and how it relates to disability and aspects of sexuality.

Professional dancers with disabilities can be challenging to traditional dance aesthetics because they do not conform to mainstream bodily norms. But Suzanne believes it is this outsider status that presents an opportunity to subvert traditional aesthetics and transform the meanings society attaches to disability.

Pharmakos takes place at the Wellington Waterfront from February 26 to March 3. For more information on Suzanne and her work, go to

Dance Masters International has recently held its fourth annual Summer Seminar programme, in both Auckland and Christchurch. Following on from the success of the first Auckland Seminar in January last year, this year’s Auckland programme was completely sold out, with a total of 80 students across three age group levels. The international faculty included Frederic Jahn, Patricia Ruanne, Martin James, Katie Hurst-Saxton, Olivia Russell and Dance Informa’s own Rain Francis. Students were coached in ballet, pointe, repertoire, contemporary, conditioning, character and make-up over the week-long intensives.

Tama Ma

Okareka Dance Company will present ‘Tama Ma’ at the Holland Dance Festival in February. Photo courtesy of Okareka Dance Company.

Dance Masters International is fast becoming one of the most popular schools in New Zealand. In addition to seminars they also run a full-time school and a junior school. This year’s Winter Seminar will take place in Auckland from July 14 to 19. For more information or to take advantage of the early bird booking discount, go to

Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Managing Director Amanda Skoog has been honoured for her services to ballet in this year’s Honours list, becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MZM).

“I’m really chuffed to be recognised for my work in ballet – an artform I love,” says Skoog. “It’s a really wonderful way to start the New Year.”

Managing Director since 2006, Amanda has served in various arts administrative roles in Europe and New Zealand for 20 years. She began her career, however, as a classical ballet dancer, touring Europe extensively before accepting a position with the English National Ballet. RNZB Board Member Alistair Carruthers was also made a Companion of the Order (CNZM) for his services to arts governance.

Photo (top): The New Zealand Dance Company will perform Rotunda at the prestigious Holland Dance Festival in February 2014. Dancers Hannah Tasker-Poland and Tupua Tigafua perform in Rotunda. Photo by John McDermott.

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