Dance across the pond – NZ Dance News

NZDC in 'Matariki for Tamariki'. Photo by John McDermott.
NZDC in 'Matariki for Tamariki'. Photo by John McDermott.

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

This October, The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) returns with Matariki for Tamariki, a whānau friendly work in celebration of ritual and renewal, for Auckland Live’s Pick and Mix season. Accomplished New Zealand dancer and choreographer Sean MacDonald (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa) brings to life a group of friends who journey throughout Aotearoa during the Matariki season – an annual custom that honours ongoing relationships to place and each other. With such a tumultuous start to our current year, join NZDC in generating fun and hope for the future ahead through this celebratory work for kids and “kidaults” alike. For dates/times and to book, visit nzdc.org.nz/works/matariki-for-tamariki.

NZDC is also continuing with its weekly virtual class offerings so that you can keep dancing from your home. Virtual Movement Practice with Bella Wilson occurs every Tuesday, 1-2pm (NZST) through Zoom. This class is open to all levels and is a fusion of movement each week inspired by contemporary dance, yoga, Pilates, barre, ballet and more. Recordings of class are also available for up to 48 hours. Register at nzdc.org.nz/education/virtual-morning-movement-practice. NZDC also offers virtual Feisty Feet Classes to keep the senior community moving. These occur Wednesdays, 10-11am (NZST) through Zoom and includes a light warm-up, creative activities and joyful movement sequences. Register at nzdc.org.nz/education/feisty-feet.

Elizabeth Walker teaching at International Ballet Workshops. Photo by Brenden Tamraz.
Elizabeth Walker teaching at
International Ballet Workshops.
Photo by Brenden Tamraz.

International Ballet Workshops (IBW) is hosting a series of online workshops for dance students in New Zealand and Australia. The most recent online workshop was taught by former New York City Ballet dancer and Ballet Academy East faculty member Elizabeth Walker. It was an amazing opportunity for students to work with such a renowned artist and teacher, and to experience the Balanchine Style and Technique, which Walker is an expert in. To hear about upcoming online workshops and stay up to date with all IBW news, visit www.ibwdance.com and follow IBW on Instagram and Facebook

2020 marks the 11th year the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab will be presented in Aotearoa New Zealand. This annual project is for emerging mid-career Pacific dance artists in Aotearoa as a platform to explore and incubate their own ideas and develop as choreographers in a supportive environment. The choreographic lab fosters creativity, ingenuity, risk-taking, discovery and collaboration which impacts the future of dance for Pacific artists, not just in Aotearoa but globally. The Pacific Dance NZ (PDNZ) model is now regarded as one of the most anticipated events on the NZ dance calendar. Through a selection process, the successful choreographers are given a stipend, paired with a senior arts mentor and given an opportunity to present their works to the dance sector. Amidst a pandemic, PDNZ received an overwhelming response to its call-out for applications in July. To ensure integrity and impartiality were maintained with the selection process, all applications were sent to an esteemed panel PDNZ assembled from the community consisting of Kura Te Ua (Hawaiki TU), Julia Mageau-Gray (Sunameke) and Leki Jackson-Bourke. On Tuesday 13 October, at the Auckland Art Gallery during the Late Night Art event of Auckland Art Week, the multileveled glassed mezzanine will be packed to the rafters, and the choreographers will present their own narrative-based dance pieces over 45 minutes. The 2020 cohort of choreographers selected include Ankaramy (Anks) Fepuleai, Lomina-Meteri Araitia and Albert Latailakepa. For more information, visit www.pacificdance.co.nz/choreolab

Funded by the Ministry of Education Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga in partnership with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage Manatū Taonga through the Creatives in Schools project, DANCEwithME is a collaboration between the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) and three Wellington schools. Students from St. Anne’s School, Evans Bay Intermediate School and Wellington High School were introduced to ballet and dance through workshops, activities and performances. Students of a range of ages and abilities had the opportunity to embrace the joy of dance and access a wide range of dance experiences with the RNZB. The goal was to make dance accessible to everyone and to promote recognition that well-being is built through participation. The focus of the programme was to develop students’ knowledge and skills in collaboration and creative thinking and encourage expression, communication and a deeper appreciation of dance.

RNZB's 'The Sleeping Beauty'. Photo by Ross Brown.
RNZB’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’. Photo by Ross Brown.

Weekly workshops were offered at each school, designed and run by the RNZB’s dance educators, developing understanding of classical and contemporary dance and associated choreographic techniques. Introductory sessions on ballet and exploration of choreography from the RNZB’s 2020 productions provided a basis to create a piece to be performed at the end of the project. As was to be expected, the delivery of the programme was adversely affected by the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent restrictions. While the students were able to tour the RNZB studios, watch the company in rehearsal and visit the costume department, all performances of Venus Rising were cancelled. The timeline for delivery was extended to cover workshops cancelled by the lockdown, and the keenly awaited final performance took place on Monday 31 August, with an enthusiastic audience of fellow dancers and teachers rather than the hoped-for crowd of whānau (family) and friends. A short film featuring the final performance and commentary from the creatives, teachers and some students involved can be found here.

Looking ahead with joy and optimism to its ever-popular Christmas season, RNZB will open its new production, The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Sleeping Beauty, on 29 October. This new production of the quintessential classical ballet has been created by a creative team led by RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker, along with New Zealand costume designer Donna Jefferis, American scenic designer Howard C. Jones, Austrian dramaturg Michael Auer and American lighting designer Randall (Rico) Chiarelli. The national tour of The Sleeping Beauty visits Wellington, Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Palmerston North, Napier, Auckland City and Takapuna. For tickets and more information, visit rnzb.org.nz/shows/the-sleeping-beauty.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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