New Zealand Dance News – July 2020

Katie Rudd of The New Zealand Dance Company. Photo by John McDermott.
Katie Rudd of The New Zealand Dance Company. Photo by John McDermott.

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

Pacific Dance New Zealand (PDNZ) has introduced a brand-new digital initiative, The Transform Series, which launched on 24 June. Consisting of 10 episodes of inspirational curated content, dance artists have come together to celebrate their unique cultural heritage and the traditions of Pacific dance forms in Aotearoa. Ten Aotearoa-based artists have been selected to each create a 25-30-minute episode of personal content, to explore how their own dance practice is informed by their unique heritage. The pre-recorded episodes are all themed on transformation and will be premiered live then accessible on-demand, free of charge through PDNZ’s digital platforms. Each episode will be completely different, with some artists offering workshops or classes, others creating interactive history lessons and origin studies, but all will touch on the artist’s own cultural interpretations in a deeply personal exploration of Pacific heritage in Aotearoa in 2020 through dance. Iosefa Enari, director of PDNZ, says that The Transform Series is in direct response to the current climate and audience feedback. “The world has been transformed, but a constant is our heritage and culture that we cannot lose sight of in the noise. This series is a gift to our audiences in lieu of live performances, in direct response to what they asked for – enriching and authentic heritage content available digitally and on-demand, without any boundaries.” The Transform Series artists include Tupe Lualua, Albert Trail, Molia Alama-Tulafono, Joachim Kaeo, Julia Mage’au Grey, Steev Maka, Milika Pusiaki, Leki Jackson Bourke, Soane Pusiaki and Tahiti Ia Ora. For more information, head to www.pacificdance.co.nz

RNZB Artist Katherine Skelton and Soloist Kirby Selchow. Photo by Ross Brown.
RNZB Artist Katherine Skelton and Soloist Kirby Selchow. Photo by Ross Brown.

Since the onset of the global pandemic, The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) will be one of the first ballet companies in the world to return to the stage with an audience, come 20 August. Four works will make up the Venus Rising programme, each capturing the spirit of Venus, the brightest of stars and herald of the dusk and the dawn. Works include Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles, in which 27 dancers leap and spin across the stage in an ever-changing ocean of light; Alice Topp’s Aurum, inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi, the practice of mending cracks in precious ceramics with gold; Andrea Schermoly’s Within Without, a recent commission; and Sarah Foster-Sproull’s Ultra Folly, inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s Baroque La Folia. “The four works on this monumental occasion capture and embody unique stories about rising from pain and being a lifeline to those in need,” said RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker. “The Royal New Zealand Ballet is proud to join New Zealand in leading the world back to what makes us human.” The national tour of Venus Rising commences 20 August in Wellington and concludes on 19 September in Auckland, stopping at Christchurch, Dunedin, Palmerston North and Napier along the way. Tickets are on sale from 3 July. For more information, head to rnzb.org.nz/shows/venus-rising.

International Ballet Workshops. Photo by Chris Dowd Photography.
International Ballet Workshops. Photo by Chris Dowd Photography.

Despite having to cancel its Winter 2020 workshops due to the COVID-19 crisis, International Ballet Workshops (IBW) is looking toward the Summer 2021 Series, having recently released its upcoming tour schedule. Workshops will take place in Auckland from January 18-20, at Wellesley Studios, with an exciting line-up of guest teachers soon to be announced. As with all IBW series, the Summer 2021 Series promises to offer students not only an incredible learning experience but also life-changing opportunities to help them progress to the next step of their dance career. The tour includes: Melbourne (January 4-6, 2021), Gold Coast (January 9-11, 2021), Brisbane (January 13-15, 2021), Auckland (January 18-20, 2021), Sydney (January 23-25, 2021) and Perth (January 27-29, 2021). Visit www.ibwdance.com for more information. 

The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) runs a number of community classes throughout the year, and currently has both virtual and live options. Virtual classes include: Virtual Morning Movement Practice with Bella Wilson (Tuesdays from 7-8am, 23 June – 28 July), open to all levels with a fusion of movement each week inspired by contemporary dance, yoga, Pilates, barre, ballet and more; and Virtual Feisty Feet with Kerry-Ann Stanton (Fridays from 9-10am, 26 June – 31 July), a senior movement class for over 60s. Live classes now include NZDC Company Class (weekdays from 9-10:30am), Int/Adv Contemporary Class with Lucy Lynch (Wednesdays from 6:30-8pm, 24 June – 29 July) and Feisty Feet (Wednesdays from 10-11am and 11am-12pm). For more information on all class offerings, visit nzdc.org.nz

NZSD Students Tessa Karle and Timothy Ching. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD Students Tessa Karle and Timothy Ching. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) has announced the 2020 digital auditions open until 18 September and live auditions at NZSD in Wellington on 26 September. The full-time tertiary programmes offered at NZSD are aimed at developing the qualities essential for professional dancers – strong technique, musicality, coordination and dedication to the art form. NZSD students major in either classical ballet or contemporary dance, while maintaining a strong grounding in both disciplines. Dancers who are unable to attend the live auditions in Wellington due to travel restrictions are invited to submit digital auditions to NZSD. All details are included in the Digital Auditions Guide available at nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/training/full-time-course/how-to-apply.

Dancers interested in full-time study at NZSD are encouraged to attend PATHWAYS, an informal information-sharing webinar hosted by NZSD senior faculty members, NZSD Director Garry Trinder, Head of Contemporary Dance Paula Steeds-Huston and Head of Associates Christine Gunn. This is a free event where NZSD will answer questions about the various programmes offered at the School, what to expect from full-time dance training, the audition process and what NZSD is looking for at the audition. PATHWAYS will be offered on Sunday 19 July at 12.30pm NZST and Sunday 2 August at 3.30pm NZST. For more information, visit nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/event/live-event-pathways-webinar/all.

Auckland company Audio Described Aotearoa has received international recognition for its efforts in providing audio description for blind and low vision arts patrons, particularly during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown. At is 2020 Achievement Awards in Audio Description, the American Council of Blind presented eight awards to individuals and organisations for their outstanding contributions to the establishment and development of significant audio description programmes. Audio Described Aotearoa was presented the Special Recognition Achievement Award – International for its collaboration with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, resulting in more than 1,500 people around the world tuning into four audio described online ballets: Hansel and GretelPasschendaleDear Horizon and Romeo and Juliet. “A lot of people in the disable community are used to not getting out much, and it feels as though online resources and events such as these audio described online performances are a great way to increase access to ballet and other artforms,” says Nicola Owen, co-director of Audio Described Aotearoa. “After things go back to normal, it would be great if we all remember what we’ve learned through this crisis.” 

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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