Opera House, Wellington

01/03/2019 - 02/03/2019

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

08/03/2019 - 09/03/2019

Production Details

Four extraordinary choreographers 
Thirty eight dynamic dancers
Four brand new works

Look to the future of dance as four new generation dance-makers redefine ballet for the 21st century. 

Sarah Foster-Sproull returns with the same wild imagination and energy that thrilled audiences in her brazenly colourful work, Despite the Loss of Small Detail, in the RNZB’s 2018 Strength and Grace. This time Sarah is making a powerful work for our much-loved dancer Abigail Boyle, transforming her into the Greek deity Artemis, formidable goddess of the hunt, wild animals and fertility. With a bespoke soundtrack by long-time collaborator and dance music maestro Eden Mulholland.

Shaun James Kelly is loved by New Zealand audiences for his joyful, musical dancing. Now, as an RNZB Choreographer in Residence, he stakes his claim as one of this country’s most exciting innovators of classical dance choreography. By applying levels to movement, Shaun’s work will expand and stretch the classical form to explore and play with gravity, time and growth. Set against the brilliant structure, momentum and harmonic drive of J S Bach, this new work will satisfy lovers of pure dance in all its forms.

James O’Hara has flourished internationally as a dance performer, teacher and choreographer. He is currently based in Wellington sharing his extensive knowledge with students at the New Zealand School of Dance, the official school of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. James’s work for this programme investigates scales of innovation, from the personal shifts we surrender to how we wish to effect change in and on the world around us. He collaborates with Christchurch born experimental composer Motte (Anita Clark) who will perform her score live onstage with dancers from the RNZB.

Moss Patterson is an award-winning choreographer and a passionate advocate for Maori culture and contemporary dance in Aotearoa. Now he shares his clear indigenous voice with the dancers of the RNZB in a powerful exploration of Maori mythology that fuses traditional and balletic movement. Traditional taonga pūoro instruments and the raging sounds of Te Reo heavy metal band Alien Weaponry give birth to a fusion reverberating through time and obliterating all preconceptions of what a ballet company is capable of.

Experience ground-breaking, original choreographic works designed on the dancers of the RNZB, as we expand our repertory with the spirit of Aotearoa. With limited performances, these special shows are guaranteed to sell fast – book now!

Please note: There is no elevator in the Opera House and access to the Dress Circle and Gallery are via stairs. The Gallery may be unsuitable for patrons with accessibility requirements or experience vertigo. For further information, please contact us on 04 916 1205.


Music: Alien Weaponry, A Tikao and L Glen, Paddy Free
Visual Design: Jon Baxter
Costume Design: Moss Patterson and RNZB Costume Department

The Sky Is Not So Different From Us, Perhaps

Music: Anita Clark (Motte)
Costume Design: MATU

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Music: JS Bach with additional composition/performance by Massimo Margaria
Costume Design: Shaun James Kelly and RNZB Costume Department

Artemis Rising

Music: Eden Mulholland
Costume Design: Donna Jefferis and Esther Lofley

Dance , ,


Four new and contrasting works

Review by Jennifer Shennan 06th Mar 2019

This program to open 2019 has four new and contrasting works that will appeal to audiences in different ways. The dancers, as always, give their all, but the production needs to settle down yet, and the lighting effects be reduced by perhaps 50%, if it is to source the power of theatre.

Hine the first work, by Moss Paterson, opens with a strongly rendered haka fronted by males, but the following sequence for females, with the unexpected choices of pointe shoes and scantily clad dancers, is a challenge to reconcile with the evocation of a whare whakairo. The first woman in Maori mythology, Hine ahu one, has been a number of times choreographed—(I think of Louise Potiki Bryant, of Kelly Nash, and of Merenia Gray’s works, and believe they could all be considered for future possible restagings). 

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Let the movement speak

Review by Greer Robertson 02nd Mar 2019

One loves an evening at The Ballet – with a desire to escape to a world of balletic awe and beauty. With a New Year, fresh ideas, planned new moves, and additional new fresh legs and staff, the Royal New Zealand Ballet promises a season of new. Does it deliver?

In documentary style, the four piece programme opens with each of the choreographers speaking individually of their focus and intention of work, by way of an audio visual presentation filmed in the rehearsal studio. A somewhat unnecessary element, these matters having already been addressed in the programme notes, and one that renders a personal interpretation and exploration as a viewer, whether as an informed dance connoisseur or as a novice attendee, to be of a biased direction. Let the movement speak.

But a full house awaits.

Moss Patterson, an advocate for Maori culture and contemporary dance in Aotearoa, presents Hine, involving the entire Company on stage. The male dancers’ strong opening captures passionate forthrightness, but the female dancers appear stilted within their often un-flowing leg movement en pointe, regimented in sometimes choreographic confusion within confined shapes and space. Within the overall piece of Hine, a more seamless execution of dancer’s entrances and exits, coupled with an unfailing feat of technology support would allow more in-depth exploration and rehearsal time.

Wellington-based choreographer James O’Hara acknowledges that the classically trained Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers explore his own vast world of contemporary dance in his The sky is not so different from us. With fluid grace and haunting live onstage electronic violin, the ensemble of six dancers present a contrast in bare feet and mute coloured costumes. They give their all as they lose themselves in the movement.

Sarah Foster–Sproull is renowned for her creative energy and already acclaimed vast contemporary dance choreographic history. Retiring Royal New Zealand Ballet Principal Dancer Abigail Boyle chooses a contemporary, non-balletic ‘swan song’ to mark her leaving the ballet company after 13 years, and collaborates with Foster-Sproull in Artemis rising. This is a bold choice as her many fans and followers would possibly expect to see her in more character-driven classical roles, rather than the contemporary flavour presented. Artemis rising is a well thought-through piece with pockets of visual wonderment. There are floral tributes for Boyle and genuinely appreciative cast and audience applause.

But the long-awaited awe, classical majesty and exhilarating choreography of attending an evening of ballet, and one also befitting of an internationally renowned ballet company, belongs to The ground beneath our feet by Shaun James Kelly. Kelly joined the Company as a dancer from the UK in 2014, and is currently the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Choreographer in Residence. With vivid structure, exciting and unrelenting momentum, the tenfold ensemble soar to lofty heights, dynamically displaying what they love and know best to a reworked version of J.S. Bach’s Violin Concerto, providing balletic exhilaration, technical intensity, and spell-binding brilliance. The audience receives Kelly’s work with riotous applause.


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