NZ Dance News – July 2014

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.

The 2014 Eileen May Norris Dance Scholarship has been awarded to Sarah Elsworth. Sarah plans to use part of the scholarship to attend Vienna’s prestigious Impulstanz International Dance Festival in Vienna, and complete postgraduate study overseas. The annual scholarship is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding dance talent in New Zealand with an appropriate university, polytechnic, dance school or academy, or for those dancing with a professional body or company.

New Zealand Dance Company has returned from its first national tour spanning both islands, performing its acclaimed Language of Living. The Nelson Mail has called the production “a tour de force in every respect.” It added: “The music was captivating in its glorious variety and the choreography was exceptional.” The company will embark on a national tour with Rotunda, its first full-length work, in 2015.

In other NZDC news, the company will host a Winter School at the brand new Wellesley Studios in Auckland’s CBD on July 14-19. Led by Artistic Director Shona McCullagh and a world-class faculty, the intensive week of training is open to dancers of all abilities. It includes classes in classical and contemporary technique, partnering and choreography sessions, with brand-new, short works being created by the participants. For more information and to register, visit or email

New Zealand Dance Company's Winter School

Dancers at New Zealand Dance Company’s Winter School. Photo by John McDermott, courtesy of NZDC.

Dance Masters International will also host a Winter Seminar in Auckland on July 14-19. DMI has been running hugely popular summer and winter seminars across New Zealand for the past five years and this one sees the return of a true master teacher and coach, Frederic Jahn of the Nureyev Foundation. With a strong classical focus, the Winter Seminar will include ballet and contemporary technique, pointe, repertoire, conditioning and RAD work, culminating in a performance at the end of the week. Places are filling up fast, so interested students should email as soon as possible.

In July, the New Zealand School of Dance is again running the Tū Move Dance Workshop for young Māori and Pacific Island men (14–18 years). It is free to attend, has excellent tutors and is a great way to explore dance. The workshop is ideal for young people who are into Kapa Haka, hip-hop and other forms of dance.

NZSD grad Luke Hanna is tutoring the workshop. A dancer and choreographer, Luke’s career has taken him around the world. He has worked with leading companies such as Black Grace, Australian Dance Theatre and Dancenorth. Now Wellington based, Luke choreographed his own work for the 2014 Fringe NZ festival, fusing elements of Māori art and contemporary dance.

Keen to share his enjoyment of movement with younger dancers, Luke says, “I’m passionate about the Tū Move Workshop because it encourages young males to find a different way of being physical. Growing up as a male interested in dance, I found it was not something easily accepted in the community, and I’m here to shed some light on that reality.” To apply, email

Christchurch’s iconic Isaac Theatre Royal will reopen on November 17. The beloved 106-year-old venue will host the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Vodafone Season of A Christmas Carol on November 20-22, accompanied by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

“We appreciate the audiences who came to see us and support us in the temporary venues when we toured Aurora’s Wedding, Giselle and Swan Lake to Christchurch, but nothing beats seeing our extraordinary dancers and stunning sets in situ at the beautiful Isaac Theatre Royal,” says RNZB Managing Director Amanda Skoog. “Neil Cox and his team have overcome extraordinary odds to get the theatre reopened and we are so proud to be a part of their opening season. The entire company and staff are tremendously excited.”

Tickets are on sale now. For more information, head to

New Zealand dance

Dancer of Java Dance Company in photo art by Tom Hoyle.

Java Dance Company will take its most popular show to Edinburgh this year, with support from Creative NZ. Back of the Bus is part of the NZ at Edinburgh Season 2014.

On the way, Artistic Direction Sacha Copland will choreograph a commission for Dance4 on a Tram in Nottingham. Next, she will take up a residency in Burgundy, France to develop the Wine Project, commissioned by STAB LAB (BATS Theatre) and inspired by Urlar Estate in the Wairarapa, where the dancers recently camped on the organic vineyard and danced in the vines for four days.

Back of the Bus sold out at 12 New Zealand and Australian arts festivals, gained five stars and a place in the top five shows at the Adelaide Fringe. Copland says the inspiration to create the piece came during a trip to France: “I’ve always loved dance that erupts out of ordinary situations and the music from buskers on the subway in Paris made it almost impossible for me to sit still in my seat.” 

Founded by Copland at the tender age of 21, Java Dance Company is a professional New Zealand dance company that has created 14 original works in 10 years and performed to over 80,000 people. 

Okareka Dance Company is currently on tour with its new production Mana Wahine. Artistic Directors Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete have joined forces with World of WearableArt (WOW) Artistic Director Malia Johnston and a cast including Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo. Visit for tickets and further information.

The company is also looking forward to its 2015 Summer School, to be held at the Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts on January 5-16. Applications are now open but places are limited, so interested students are encouraged to email soon for an information pack. For further details, email

Photo (top): A dancer participates in New Zealand School of Dance’s 2010 Tū Move Dance Workshop. Photo courtesy of NZSD.

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