New Zealand School of Dance: At the forefront of versatility

NZSD 3rd Year Contemporary Dance Students Stephanie Halyburton and Eden Kew. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD 3rd Year Contemporary Dance Students Stephanie Halyburton and Eden Kew. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) is internationally renowned as a leading training institution for developing versatile artists. With a strong focus on classical ballet and contemporary dance, NZSD provides The New Zealand Diploma in Dance (Level 6) and The Diploma in Dance Performance (Level 7) to advance and diversify students to be intelligent and highly employable dancers. 

NZSD Classical Ballet Student Tayla-Rose Frisby. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD Classical Ballet Student Tayla-Rose Frisby. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

With architecturally designed facilities located in Wellington, impressive faculty, teaching staff, choreographers and international guest tutors, these programmes are proud to train eighty gifted full-time dancers from around the globe. As a partner to the Prix de Lausanne, NZSD also provides scholarships through the Japan Grand Prix, Youth America Grand Prix and Asian Grand Prix competitions. 

Director Garry Trinder, states, “The New Zealand School of Dance offers three years of top quality, professional dance training, with both ballet and contemporary dance equally valued. It provides a vibrant atmosphere of youthful exploration within a positive caring environment.”

The New Zealand Diploma in Dance (Level 6) two-year course has been structured to equip students for a performance career in dance. Once completed, graduates have the option to take their refined skills to complete the third year with The Diploma in Dance Performance (at Level 7), or their first professional industry placement.

The classical programme consists of classical ballet technique, contemporary dance technique, pas de deux, classical variations and pointe. Separate men’s classes focus on the physical strength of male dancing with particular emphasis on elevation, pirouettes and batterie. The contemporary programme consists of contemporary dance technique, classical ballet technique, contemporary repertoire, partnering, yoga, choreographic practice and improvisation.

NZSD 2017 Graduate Saul Newport (now with Houston Ballet). Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD 2017 Graduate Saul Newport (now with Houston Ballet). Photo by Stephen A’Court.

The first year is strategically structured with a focus on building a strong foundation for both the classical and contemporary technique along with practical and academic subjects. During the second year, the focus continues to develop technical strengths, performance skills, and provides regular performance opportunities. The NZ Diploma in Dance (Level 6) offers a concise choreographic component for both contemporary dance and classical ballet students, underpinned by professional development and self-management. Nutrition, dance history, anatomy and physiology, and music studies are amongst the other subjects offered in order to produce well-rounded professional dancers. 

Graduates of the School have entered careers in dance performance, and statistics have shown that 75 percent of students are offered a contract within six months of graduating. Alumni of NZSD include: Sharni Spencer (Senior Artist) and Ingrid Gow (Soloist) (The Australian Ballet); Jesse Scales and Riley Fitzgerald (Sydney Dance Company); Mali Comlekci and Isaak Mclean (Queensland Ballet); Sarah-Jayne Howard (Associate Artistic Director), Zoe Dunwoodie, Rowan Rossi, Matte Roffe and Christopher Mills (Australian Dance Theatre); and Jesse Homes, Jack Whiter and Emma-Rose Barrowclough (West Australian Ballet); and this is just a glimpse into the success stories, with many more currently performing with reputable companies across Australia and the globe.

Harrison James, principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada in Toronto, states, “Without the versatility in dance training, the work ethic instilled and the unwavering support from the New Zealand School of Dance, what I have achieved to this day would not have even occurred to me as a possibility.”       

Sharni Spencer, soloist with The Australian Ballet, shares a similar sentiment. “I was very lucky to have been exposed to a wide range of repertoire while I was at NZSD. We learnt so many different styles and worked with so many different guest teachers from all over the world. I feel that learning so many different styles of ballet and all the nuances of the repertoire was really a huge benefit. We also did a lot of contemporary work at school, which I think made me a more versatile dancer.”

NZSD 3rd Year Classical Ballet Student Timothy Ching. Photo by Amber Griffin.
NZSD 3rd Year Classical Ballet Student Timothy Ching. Photo by Amber Griffin.

NZSD alumni also work in related fields such as physiotherapy, dance teaching, Pilates instruction, arts administration, research, dance notation, dance photography and journalism.

Aspiring dancers with their sights on a professional career can audition for NZSD for further development. The School has recently announced that the 2020 digital auditions are open until 18 September, and live auditions will be at NZSD in Wellington on 26 September. 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 www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/audition. To apply, visit www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/audition.

If you’re interested in full-time study at the New Zealand School of Dance, don’t miss 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. PATHWAYS will be offered on Sunday 19 July at 12.30pm NZST (EDT Saturday 18 July at 8.30pm) and Sunday 2 August at 3.30pm NZST (EDT Saturday 1 August at 11.30pm). 

New Zealand School of Dance audition.

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 are looking for at the audition.

For more information, visit www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/pathways.

View the online prospectus at Full-time Course – New Zealand School of Dance.

By Renata Ogayar of Dance Informa. 

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