Dance News Australia

NZ Dance News – October

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has appointed a new artistic director; 36-year-old Italian Francesco Ventriglia. Francesco trained at the Ballet School of La Scala, Milan, joining the world-renowned ballet company of La Scala in 1997. He performed a wide range of repertoire including the Bronze Idol in Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère, and Hilarion to Sylvie Guillem’s Giselle at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and at Covent Garden. He has created works for leading dancers including Roberto Bolle, Ulyana Lopatkina and Svetlana Zakharova. After retiring from the stage, aged 31, Francesco Ventriglia was appointed Director of MaggioDanza in Florence, Italy.

“The calibre of applicants was extremely high,” says RNZB Chair Candis Craven. “Francesco greatly impressed the board with the breadth of his artistic vision, his intellect, his knowledge of repertoire, and his great energy. He has a strong track record of nurturing talented young dancers and choreographers, and we believe he is the perfect fit to lead New Zealand’s national ballet company.”

Francesco Ventriglia begins his appointment next month, joining the company during The Vodafone Season of A Christmas Carol, which opens in Wellington on 30 October and closes in Auckland on 14 December.

Black Grace - Xmas Verses,  Artistic Direction - Neil Ieremia, Photography -Adrian Malloch

Black Grace in ‘Xmas Verses.’
Artistic Direction by Neil Ieremia. Photos by Adrian Malloch.

Black Grace will this month begin a tour of Xmas Verses, a collection of original dance works by artistic director Neil Ieremia. Fresh from performances in Edinburgh, Seoul and New York City, Black Grace will perform in Hamilton (Oct 29 – Nov 1), Auckland (Nov 5 – 9) and Whangarei (Nov 14). Featuring music from Fat Freddy’s Drop, 2Pac and Al Green, Xmas Verses is inspired by memories of long hot Kiwi summers with family, friends, plenty of food and festivities. 

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Two students have graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance’s aspirational Scholars programme into the School’s full-time course. Sophie Arbuckle and Megan Wright are both studying towards the Certificate in Dance Performance in 2014, and have reached Level 6 of Scholars, a part-time programme for ballet students from age 10.

Second year student Megan was chosen for a lead role in the NZSD’s 2013 graduation programme, and both Megan and Sophie are currently learning George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, which will feature in this year’s Graduation Season. The two girls were also chosen to spend a month on exchange at NZSD partner school, Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, in January 2014.

“The Scholars programme was a wonderful stepping stone in my path towards joining a ballet company – I would recommend it to any aspiring young dancer”, says Megan.

The New Zealand School of Dance is offering the public the chance to learn from its tutors and students, with a selection of classical and contemporary classes and workshops in Auckland and Christchurch.

A two-hour contemporary workshop will begin with a technique class taught by a member of the NZSD contemporary dance faculty for participants and the School’s current full-time students. This will be followed by learning repertoire from dance show THE RESIDENTS, taught by the second and third year students who created the work. This workshop takes place at Wellesley Studios, Auckland on October 15. Bookings can be made here at

In addition, classical and contemporary classes for students from Year 10 upwards are being offered, in conjunction with auditions for the NZSD Associates. At Wellesley Studios in Auckland on October 18, the School is running a contemporary class with Sacha Copland from 1:00pm to 2:15pm, followed by a classical class with Christine Gunn, from 2:30pm to 3:45pm. The following weekend, on October 25, the same classes will run at Anna Lee School of Dance, in Christchurch, with contemporary at 12:15pm and ballet at 1:45pm.

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Discover Dance with Java Dance. Photo courtesy of Java Dance.

‘Discover Dance’ with Java Dance. Photo courtesy of Java Dance.

Java Dance is offering a series of workshops for young children, at Capital E Central, 4 Queens Wharf, Wellington. The hour-long workshops take place every Tuesday from October 14 to December 16, at 9:45am. Java invites participants to “jump, twirl, shake and explore in a fun hour dedicated to discovering the joy and imagination in contemporary dance.” Workshops are just $8 each, or $70 for all ten.

For more information or to book, head to

Kiwi dance fans will be treated to an explosion of dance festivals this month and next, with events taking place all over the country. The 13th Body Festival of Dance and Performance, which is running now until October 12, offers a broad range of performance events and workshops in Christchurch. Also in the South Island is the biennial Arts Festival Dunedin (formerly known as the Otago Festival of the Arts), which takes place from October 10 – 19.

In the North, Tempo Dance Festival kicks off on October 7. For 12 days, Auckland’s Q Theatre will be transformed into a hub for dance lovers. Finally, In the capital city, Parris Goebel and The Royal Family will headline Dance Wellington Festival, which runs from November 5 to 23.

Photo (top): Black Grace in Xmas Verses. Artistic Direction by Neil Ieremia. Photo by Adrian Malloch.

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