New Zealand Dance News – June/July 2023

RNZB in 'Serenade' as part of 'Lightscapes'. Photo by Ross Brown.
RNZB in 'Serenade' as part of 'Lightscapes'. Photo by Ross Brown.

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

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) has anounced the appointment of its new Executive Director, Tobias Perkins. Perkins comes to the RNZB from the UK, most recently at Leeds’ prolific Northern Ballet, where he held a number of roles including Interim Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director. In these positions, Perkins oversaw an increase in the company’s core funding during a highly challenging funding period in the UK’s arts sector, and developed the reach and prominence of the company’s touring programme. In his role of Director of Planning, the company’s children’s ballets welcomed audiences of over 30,000 young people and their families per year, and this work was recognised in 2022 with a nomination for the UK Theatres Excellence in Touring Award.

Tobias Perkins. Photo by Emily Nuttall.
Tobias Perkins. Photo by Emily Nuttall.

RNZB Chair Dame Kerry Prendergast says, “We’re very much looking forward to welcomimg Tobias and his family to Aotearoa, and the RNZB team. He brings valuable leadership experience, deep passion for ballet, and is hugely enthusiastic about helping lead the company into our next chapter. The Board and I look forward to collaborating with him in our search for a new Artistic Director when he arrives in July, and supporting him as he navigates the company through the many facets of RNZB’s work, both on stage and in the community.”

A trained musician and experienced producer across classical music, opera and dance, Perkins has also worked with London’s Royal Opera House and Barbican Centre, and served as a trustee to the award-winning Mobius Dance. “I am thrilled to be joining Royal New Zealand Ballet at this pivotal moment during its 70th anniversary season,” he says. “Having followed the company from afar for some time I am awed by the quality of work and impact it delivers in communities across Aotearoa New Zealand. I cannot wait to begin working in partnership with staff across the organisation to build on the legacy the company has created to date, whilst embracing and responding to the changing world around us. Enriching lives and connecting communities through world class ballet is our unique opportunity. I look forward, immensely, to helping shape the organisation in partnership with a new Artistic Director, and delivering on this opportunity in a way that is authentic to this storied and distinctive company, and to contemporary New Zealand.” Perkins commences in the role in the last week of July.

RNZB's 'Lightscapes'. Photo by Ross Brown.
RNZB’s ‘Lightscapes’. Photo by Ross Brown.

While the RNZB celebrates its 70th anniversary across the entire 2023 season, the programme, Lightscapes, opening 27 July, will mark the ballet’s big birthday. Lightscapes welcomes the world premiere of a new work, Whenua by Moss Te Ururangi Patterson. Inspired by haka and powered by the strength of the men of the RNZB, this powerful New Zealand ballet masterpiece will be a striking and lasting addition to the RNZB’s repertoire. The programme will also feature Serenade, as well as two New Zealand premieres, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose and Alice Topp’s Logos. Lightscapes will travel to Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington (27 – 29 July), Ōtautahi Christchurch (5 – 6 August) and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (10 – 12 August). For more information, visit rnzb.org.nz/shows/lightscapes.

Applications are now open for the RNZB’s Artistic Director position until 26 June. On its website, RNZB states that the ideal candidate will be a confident, articulate and empathetic leader with a bold and compelling vision that will advance the company along the path reflecting its mission and goals. They should also demonstrate the ability to have nurtured talent, through their career as a dancer, choreographer or balletic leader. They should also have a good understanding of the RNZB, its relationship with the New Zealand School of Dance and the unique cultural environment of Aotearoa New Zealand. To find out more about the role and how to apply, visit rnzb.org.nz/about/careers-and-auditions-2.

RNZB's 'Tiaho Pō'. Image by Loui Tuhaka.
RNZB’s ‘Tiaho Pō’. Image by Loui Tuhaka.

As part of the Te Papa’s free school holiday programme, the RNZB will present a new work for school-aged children and their whānau, Tiaho Pō. Choreographed by RNZB Ballet Masters Laura McQueen Schultz and Nick Schultz, and based on a new, original story written by Porirua children’s book author Juanita Teepa, Tiaho Pō tells the story of Māhina and her deep connection to the earth; source of light, life and hope. The work is set to original composition by composer and Creative Waikato CEO Jeremy Mayall and taonga puoro composer and performer Horomona Horo. RNZB Education Manager Lauren Byrne says, “We feel very lucky to once again be partnering with Te Papa on a special holiday project. It is a first for our RNZB Education team to collaborate with such highly regarded artists as Juanita, Horomona and Jeremy. We look forward to delivering a performance that we hope will be enjoyed by thousands of tamariki and their whānau.” Dance workshops for tamariki and rangatahi will sit alongside the free performances. Bookings for dance workshops can be made here.

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) is proud to present this year’s choreographic season, titled Axis. The season celebrates the students’ creative process and offers an insight into the development of their choreographic skills. Third-year contemporary dance students collaborate to create their own individual works, guided by tutor Holly Newsome. Eight short pieces are combined to create a full-length work, allowing students to showcase their talents and perspectives with Newsome’s expertise and guidance. Axis opens at Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre on 23 June and runs until 29 June. Tickets are from $12 – $25. Visit nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/events/choreographic-season-2023 for details.

NZSD students Joshua Linkhorn and Aleeya McFadyen-Rew. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
NZSD students Joshua Linkhorn and Aleeya McFadyen-Rew. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

Applications to audition at NZSD are now open. The School’s unique training programme develops qualities that meet the needs of the dance profession while alsoextending the boundaries of the art form. Auditions will be held in New Zealand, Australia, and digitally. NZSD offers two full-time professional dance training programmes majoring in either Classical Ballet or Contemporary Dance. The New Zealand Diploma in Dance (Level 6) is a two-year course designed to prepare students for a performance career. Upon completion, students may apply to complete the NZSD Diploma in Dance Performance (Level 7), which focusses on providing performance opportunities and industry experience. The NZSD Diploma in Dance Performance (Level 7) is equivalent to an undergraduate degree, allowing the possibility of postgraduate study and many career pathways. Entry to full-time training at the New Zealand School of Dance is by audition. 2023 audition dates are: 23 September (Wellington, New Zealand), 25 September (Brisbane, Australia), 27 September (Sydney, Australia), and 28 September (Melbourne, Australia). For more information on how to apply and entry criteria, go to www.nzschoolofdance.ac.nz/audition.

NZSD is excited to be taking part in this year’s Pacific Dance Festival in Auckland, NZ. The contemporary dance students representing the School are Anya Down, Paige Mowbray, Deija Vukona, Sophie Sheaf-Morrison and Mārie Jones, who will be showcased as emerging choreographers/artists in MOANA on 6 June at Q Theatre. For more information, head to www.qtheatre.co.nz/shows/moana-pacific-dance-festival-2023.

The NZSD also recently had several of its classical ballet students, Campbell Wilson, Joshua Linkhorn and Angus O’Connell, seconded to the Royal New Zealand Ballet for its production of Romeo and Juliet. This was a wonderful opportunity for the School’s students to gain experience dancing with the company.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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