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New Zealand Dance Update

Mayu Tanigaito in RNZB's 'Cinderella'. Photo by Ross Brown.
Mayu Tanigaito in RNZB's 'Cinderella'. Photo by Ross Brown.

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

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) is pleased to offer Tools for Teachers II – “Stretch versus Strength”, a non-syllabus based seminar for dance educators from all teaching backgrounds and affiliations. The seminar will be presented by two of New Zealand’s foremost dance professionals, Sarah Fitzsimons and Jane Woolley, who will share specific methods they employ to achieve positive results, along with simple strengthening and aligning exercises that you can apply to your teaching immediately. The aims of this seminar are for teachers to: feel more confident in their understanding of what anatomical structures are being stretched and how to do this safely; discuss and acquire tools to help students understand and apply correct stretching and strengthening techniques; incorporate some specific stretching and strengthening principles into dance technique classes for optimal performance and injury prevention; and promote discussion regarding the influence of social media images and how we balance that with safe dance practice and injury prevention. For more information and to book, head to www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz. Tools for Teachers II is held in Auckland (19 June), Wellington (18 September) and Christchurch (28 August).

NZSD 1st Year Classical Ballet Student Ruby Ryburn. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD 1st Year Classical Ballet Student Ruby Ryburn. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

NZSD is a national institution, official School of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and centre of excellence for pre-professional dance training. The School remains committed to providing outstanding dance education and developing well-rounded dancers who can succeed at the highest level. Those interested in full-time study at NZSD are invited to attend PATHWAYS, a free, informal information-sharing event hosted by NZSD Director Garry Trinder and other senior faculty members who will answer your questions about the various programmes offered at NZSD, what to expect from full-time dance training at NZSD, the audition process, and what the School is looking for at the audition. These talks are held in Auckland and Wellington, and can also be accessed on the NZSD website. For more information and to book, visit www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) will farewell two of its longest-serving dancers this month. After more than a decade with the Company, Principal Joseph Skelton and Soloist Katherine Skelton (née Grange) will retire from their long and distinguished performing careers, which have taken them both all over Aotearoa and around the world, to start a new life away from the limelight. The couple who married in 2017, are looking forward to a new chapter and keen to see what opportunities and pathways lie ahead.  

“Our time at the RNZB has been a huge part of our lives, and we have so many great memories from on and off the stage that we will treasure, and many close friendships gained,” says Katherine. “We have had a myriad of wonderful experiences, especially in the last few years, working with Patricia and her team. We have decided, after our full and rewarding careers of 11 and 12 years, it is time for us to transition into something new together.” 

“I am so proud of everything that Kat and Joseph have achieved during their long time with the RNZB,” says Artistic Director Patricia Barker. “Over the last five years, it has been a pleasure to see them making their mark in iconic roles, and to see them grow as senior dancers in the company. They retire and move on to this next stage in their lives together with all the love, support and luck that we can give them and will always be part of our RNZB family.” 

Katherine Skelton and Joseph Skelton. Photo by Ross Brown.
Katherine Skelton and Joseph Skelton. Photo by Ross Brown.

The RNZB will mark Katherine and Joseph’s retirement with a specially-filmed performance of the Act II pas de deux from Giselle – a ballet in which they both performed with distinction with the RNZB around New Zealand and touring in China, the USA, the UK and Italy. Kat and Joseph’s ‘last dance’ can be viewed on the RNZB’s Facebook page.

The team behind RNZB’s 2019 Hansel & Gretel, choreographer Loughlan Prior and composer Claire Cowan, have reunited to create a new ballet – the Ryman Healthcare Season of Cinderella, opening 3 August. This world premiere is the first production the company will perform back on its home stage in the freshly renovated St James Theatre in Wellington. The production will then head to Auckland, Napier, Christchurch and Dunedin, the company’s first national tour in over a year. 

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker says, “This thoroughly joyful, new telling of a classic story, created by a trinity of young ballet masterminds, is three years in the making. With Emma [Kingsbury]’s extraordinary set and costumes, Claire’s magnificent musical score, and Loughlan’s witty and dramatic storytelling, we’ve lovingly created a thoroughly magical modern Cinderella – a sparkly, well-styled twist on the much-loved classic, with a heroine who knows her own mind and a hero who follows his heart.”

Prior says, “Our Cinderella story centres around a quest for identity, true love and the courage to be yourself. The characters exist in a society of excess, titles and possessions, in which more is more – a direct parallel to the oversaturation of 21st century living. Cinderella and Prince Charming must push against the noise in order to re-write their own, authentic ‘happily ever afters’.” 

Tickets for all shows are on sale now. For bookings and more information, visit rnzb.org.nz/shows/cinderella-2.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa. 

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