St James Theatre 2, Wellington

24/11/2017 - 25/11/2017

Production Details

Celebrating 50 years of achievement, our national dance school presents a season of visionary choreography, featuring students of the School alongside dancers from the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

On 6 March 1967, the New Zealand School of Dance (then the National School of Ballet) opened its doors to aspiring young dancers, to provide training for the dance profession. The 50th anniversary graduation season salutes the many teachers, choreographers and dancers who have left their mark upon the School, and dance in New Zealand.

These stunning performances of ballet and contemporary dance honour the School’s rich heritage, looking towards a vibrant future.

Friday 24 November 7.30pm
Saturday 25 November 1.30pm
Saturday 25 November 7.30pm

Adult: from $40
Child (up to year 13): from $25
Student/Senior: from $30

Groups of 6+ and school groups can receive a discount by booking through Ticketek groups

Estimated performance duration: 2.5 hours including intervals



Beginners, Please!
Performed by NZSD Scholars and Full-Time Students
Composer: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Sue Nicholls
Pianist: Phillip O'Malley

Tempo di Valse
Performed by NZSD
Composer: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Music:The Nutcracker, Op.71
Arranged and rehearsed by: Nadine Tyson

Performed by NZSD
Composer: Georg Friedrich Händel
Music: Overture from Rinaldo; Almirena’s Aria (Lascia ch'io pianga) from Rinaldo
Choreography: Val Caniparoli
Staged by: Betsy Erickson

Forgotten Things
Performed by NZSD
Composer: Andrew Foster
Music:Oblitus Res
Choreography: Sarah Foster-Sproull

Curious Alchemy
Performed by NZSD
Composer:Ludwig Van Beethoven
Music:String Quartet No.13 in B Flat Major, Op. 130
Composer:Camille Saint-Saëns 
Music: String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 112
Choreography: Loughlan Prior

Wedding Pas de deux from Don Quixote
Performed by RNZB
Composer: Ludwig Minkus
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Staged by: Patricia Barker
Costumes: Gary Harris

Pas de Deux from Concerto
Performed by NZSD
Composer: Dimitri Shostakovich
Music: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op 102
Choreography: Sir Kenneth MacMillan
Presented by kind permission of Lady Deborah MacMillan on behalf of The MacMillan Estate
Coached by: Marilyn Rowe AM, OBE and David Peden
Costume Design: Jürgen Rose
Pianists: Craig Newsome & Phillip O’Malley

S.U.B. (Salubrious Unified Brotherhood)
Performed by NZSD
Music: Parallel Stripesby Aphex Twin, Window by Jimmy La Valle, This place is a shelter by Ólafur Arnalds, Feeling good by Newley/Bricusse; constructed by Jack Jenkins.
Choreography: Victoria Colombus with Connor Masseurs and Toa Paranihi

Allegro Brillante
Performed by NZSD
Composer: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Music: Piano Concerto No3 in E Flat Major, Op. posth. 75
Choreography: George Balanchine ©The George Balanchine Trust
Staged by: Victoria Simon
Rehearsed by: Patricia Barker
Costumes: Karinska, courtesy of the Royal New Zealand Ballet

The Bach
Performed by NZSD
Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach
Music: Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen Cantata BWV 66
Choreography: Michael Parmenter

In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated
Performed by RNZB
Choreographer: William Forsythe
Music: Thom Willems in collaboration with Les Stuck
Staging: Thierry Guideroni
Original Technical Supervidor: Tanja Rūhl
with thanks to Alexander Scott, Forsyth Productions

Dance , Contemporary dance , ,

2.5 hours

Panache, precision, poignancy ... and period pieces

Review by Jennifer Shennan 28th Nov 2017

This program was a dazzling line-up of works that showcased and celebrated the strengths and talent of young dancers and graduands of New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD). The moment when fledgings leave the nest is always poignant. Some of these young dancers have taken instant wing and are moving straight into positions with prestigious companies—Queensland Ballet, West Australian Ballet for example. Godspeed to them. Most curiously, not one is joining Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB).

With numerous dancers departing from RNZB this week, that raises a number of questions, which this review is not placed to answer, but should none-the-less be somewhere, somehow addressed.  Eva Radich in her Radio New Zealand Concert Upbeat programme recently asked the question in interview with the company’s artistic director—’Royal New Zealand Ballet. What’s the New Zealand moniker mean?’ We all need to think about the answer. A major part of New Zealand’s dance identity is at stake. That belongs within, not apart from, international dance identity.



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Classical ballet legacy and contemporary excitement

Review by Deirdre Tarrant 28th Nov 2017

There is a real buzz as many returning graduates arrive in the foyer. Memories, hugs and “I haven’t seen you for years” shrieks of delight set a high excitement level for this programme. Strangely the onstage reality seems disconnected from the Graduation process and in some ways even from the NZSD we had come to celebrate. A shared showcase with the Royal New Zealand Ballet gives us  great dance but it is hard to tell who in fact are the graduates. The school has trained dancers who have been huge ambassadors for both classical and contemporary dance and 50 years is a significant milestone and certainly one to be acknowledged and celebrated.

The St James lends its grandeur to the occasion . Onstage, a gala of dance and a restaging of works seen over a number of years danced by students of the school, unfold. The curtain rises on three classical sequences of barre training danced by junior scholar students, firmly positioning ballet at the core of the training offered by the school.

Tempo de Waltz set by Nadine Tyson to Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers is a staged ensemble work for a corps de ballet. The ballon and partnering from .Isaac Goh  and  Bo Hao Zhan stand out. Aria is a neoclassical solo choreographed originally in 1997 by Val Caniparoli and first seen here in 2006. This intriguing work is competently danced by Mali Comlekci although a little lost on the vastness of the St James’ stage.

Loughlan Prior’s choreography, Curious Alchemy has a lovely sense of energy, playfulness and fun . The dancers – Clementine Benson, Jayden Cumming, Saul Newport and Song Teng – move with that enviable and incredible lightness of being of young people going places.  Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s touchstone choreography, Concerto Pas de Deux, is excellently and appropriately accompanied by  NZSD pianists Craig Newsome and Philip O’Malley and is danced strongly by Olivia Moore  and Callum Gray. Allegro Brilliante, also an historical gem by George Balanchine, is quicksilver, exhuberant choreography that pushes the dancers both musically and technically.  

The stand out classical item is, not surprisingly, the Wedding Pas de Deux from Don Quixote, a traditional showstopper that demands outstanding skills in terms of its artistic, virtuosity and technical challenges.  RNZB dancers Mayu Tanigaito and Joseph Skelton rise brilliantly to the occasion and give us a world class rendition. Tanigaito is stunning and totally in command of her performance and Skelton an effortless star who seems a little bewildered at his own ability! An endearing and stunning  partnership. 

The evening’s emphasis is strongly on legacy and on classical ballet but it is the contemporary works that truly give us the dance excitement of the  programme. 

A new work this year – a duo, S.U.B by Victoria Columbus, Connor Masters and Toa Paranihi, danced by Masters and Paranihi is fun and connects us immediately to the Pacific nation that we are and to the energies of today. Ensemble works by Sarah Foster-Sproull and Michael Parmenter completely encapsulate the energy and collective power of the young talent on stage. Forgotten Things by Foster-Sproull (first made in 2015) is once again hypnotic and compelling,  a magical and mesmerising blend of images fleeting and indulged that delight, unnerve and challenge us as observers but also connect and disperse the performers as they pull away from their formations to dance solos, duets and combinations that hold an underlying desperate cry for freedom.

Michael Parmenter’s The Bach is a joyous bacchanalia of waves of colour, bodies and musically phrased and simply luscious movement, a work I have seen before (first made for Unitec students in 2002) and loved before,  but – the dancers rise to the demands and give it their all and it is wonderful to see again and a perfect celebration finale for the dancers.

Confetti falling from the ceiling over the stage seems a fitting and celebratory end to a 50 Year Showcase show. There is to be more, however and the RNZB takes the stage with William Forsythe’s  masterpiece,  In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.  Tortuous, off-centre angles and slashing legs, precision and an onslaught of aggressive excellent dynamic viscosities.  Abigail Boyle, Massimo Margaria and Shaun James Kelly shine in a powerful cast . However, it seems oddly placed so late in the night and does not easily  contribute to the sense of Graduation, however, in saying that I feel somewhat churlish. It is certainly a treat to see and the dancers really make the work their own. 

Graduation performances somehow do need to acknowledge those students stepping out into the industry and perhaps they had their moment but it was hard to tell.  A personal niggle in a strong evening of dance. The programme was an historical document about the choreographic content and the NZSD but the students names were on the last page They carry the future and need to be Up the Front and Somewhat Elevated!

Bravo to the School and to all those who have carried the ‘flag’ for this very special place to study. Bravo to Directors over the years and to tutors and staff who for 50 years have shaped the training programmes for students. Thank you to current Director Garry Trinder and his wonderful staff today who gave us this evening of dance. Congratulations and best wishes to those graduating in this year. You have great role models to aspire to.


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