New Zealand Dance News – October 2019

David Fernandez and Rench Soriano rehearsing solo performance from 'Five Variations on a Theme'. Photo by Julia Forsyth of Joyful Dance Photography.
David Fernandez and Rench Soriano rehearsing solo performance from 'Five Variations on a Theme'. Photo by Julia Forsyth of Joyful Dance Photography.

Find out what’s happening this month in New Zealand dance news!

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) students are preparing for Graduation Season, and the School is pleased to play host to a group of acclaimed choreographers and teachers in the run-up to the performances. David Fernandez, creator of Five Variations on a Theme; as well as Betsy Erickson, ballet master at San Francisco Ballet, have been on-site for two weeks. Fernandez is working with Classical Majors on a solo piece from his work, Five Variations on a Theme. This work was created for Joaquin De Luz, principal dancer of the New York City Ballet. The work premiered as part of the celebrated Kings of the Dance world tour. It was performed to acclaim in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Qatar, Moscow, Kiev and Odessa. Erickson is working with NZSD students on Handel – A Celebration. It is an ensemble work created for the San Francisco Ballet by Creative Director Helgi Tomasson. Set to various Handel selections, it is a neo-classical showcase that puts individual dancers in relief. The ballet’s mood is governed by the splendor of the music. There is a sense of lightness, intricacy of design and a passionate sense of lyricism. Find out more and book tickets at nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/event/graduation-season-2019.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) announced that Dame Kerry Prendergast DNZM, CNZM, will join the Board of the national ballet company and will take over as Chair in January 2020, replacing Steven Fyfe, who will retire from the Board in December, after completing seven years as a Trustee and Chair since 2017. “I am excited to become a part of the Royal New Zealand Ballet,” Prendergast says. “The RNZB makes an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Aotearoa, reaching all parts of New Zealand and inspiring young people to dream of and work toward successful careers onstage and working behind the scenes. I look forward to working with the Board, Patricia Barker and Lester McGrath to forge an even brighter future for New Zealand’s national ballet company.”

The RNZB also announced that long-serving company Soloist Loughlan Prior retired from full time dancing at the conclusion of the Bold Moves tour, which finished in Napier in mid-September. Prior was appointed Choreographer in Residence with the RNZB in 2018, having joined the company in 2010, after training at the NZSD. His first full length work for the company, Hansel and Gretel, will premiere in Wellington on 6 November. “Loughlan is a wonderful artist,” says Artistic Director Patricia Barker. “He has made an outstanding contribution to the RNZB over the last decade, on stage as a dancer in a very broad range of roles, and as a choreographer with a bright future. I am very pleased to announce that, alongside his role as Choreographer in Residence, he will continue to perform with the RNZB from time to time in his new role as a Principal Character Artist.” 

PUMA has teamed up with streetwear retailer Red Rat to offer Kiwis looking to break into the worlds of music, dance or street art an enviable opportunity to learn from leading talent within each field. The PUMA x Red Rat Mentorship Programme will give three aspiring individuals unrivalled access and an unforgettable experience by pairing them with a talented mentor to help foster their careers. The dance mentor will be Bianca Ikinofo, an award-winning urban/hip hop dancer and choreographer who has performed all over the world with the likes of Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and more. “Throughout my entire journey as a dancer, I’ve had to learn through experience and opportunities. However, it would have been so valuable to have someone guide me, especially in the beginning. A mentorship is a money-can’t-buy experience, and I can’t wait to be able to share my knowledge with someone.” The application period will run through October 7. The Mentorship Programme 2019 will run from October through January 2020. For more information, visit www.redrat.co.nz/pumaxredrat

French company Ballet Preljocaj will perform its dark contemporary retelling of the classic fairytale, Snow White, in its New Zealand premiere, exclusive to Auckland Arts Festival. The full length ballet, choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj, will be a headline act for the 2020 Festival, to be held 11 – 15 March 2020. The work has been toured throughout the world and features music from Gustav Mahler symphonies, a cast of 24 dancers and costumes by fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. “We’re thrilled to welcome back Angelin Preljocaj and his company whose Les 4 Saisons delighted audiences in 2007,” Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director Jonathan Bielski says. “Ballet Preljocaj’s Snow White is a truly global ballet hit and has been a sold out sensation wherever it tours. I saw the who last year at Sydney Opera House and knew that we had to bring this daring and breathtaking production to New Zealand audiences.” Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.

International Ballet Workshops (IBW) is bringing Russian ballet stars Katherina Markowskaja and Maxim Chashchegorov to New Zealand and Australia this summer for IBW Summer 2020 “In the Footsteps of Vaganova” Series. As part of the workshops, Markowskaja and Chashchegorov will be selecting two students to attend the Prague Ballet Intensive, 2020. The selected dancers will have the opportunity to train with experienced principal dancers, teachers and choreographers from the top European, Russian and North American ballet companies. Students who attend the intensive will study ballet, pas de deux, variations, contemporary and yoga, receiving corrections and coaching to raise technique and artistry to a new level, preparing them for the world stage of ballet. The two students selected for this incredible opportunity will also go in the running to win a $1500 International Travel Grant, courtesy of IBW. The IBW Summer 2020 workshops will be held at Wellesley Studios, Auckland, from 13 – 15 January. Visit www.ibwdance.com to register.

The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) is thrilled to present a collection of its distinguished repertoire to Canada this month, at the Fall for Dance North Festival in Toronto from 2 – 6 October, and The National Arts Centre in Ottawa from 8 – 9 October. In Toronto, the programme includes works created beneath the southern skies – speaking of time, ritual and the force of nature – from highly acclaimed choreographers KIM Jae Duk (Korea) and Louise Potiki Bryant (New Zealand). In Ottawa, Jae Duk and Bryant are joined by Stephen Shropshire (USA/Netherlands). For more, visit nzdc.org.nz/works/international.

Approaching the end of 2019, NZDC’s Term 4 Intermediate/Advanced Contemporary Classes is commencing on 16 October, for another nine weeks on Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm at Wellesley Studios in Auckland. Classes are taught by Hannah Tasker-Poland and are designed to challenge and push your techniques in new ways while perfecting the foundations. Drop-in $15 Student and $20 Waged. For more information, visit  www.nzdc.org.nz/education/contemporary-classes.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa. 

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