Tutus on Tour 2023

Te Raukura ki Kāpiti Theatre, Coastlands, 32 Raumati Rd, Raumati

23/02/2023 - 25/02/2023

Carterton Events Centre, Wairarapa

27/02/2023 - 27/02/2023

Clarence Street Theatre, Hamilton

04/03/2023 - 05/03/2023

Ashburton Trust Events Centre, Christchurch

11/03/2023 - 11/03/2023

Production Details

Royal New Zealand Ballet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) will open its 70th anniversary season by taking a fresh, new production of the ever-popular Tutus on Tour to 8 theatres across Aotearoa, from Whangārei to Ashburton.

Tutus on Tour 2023, which opens in Kāpiti on 23 February before travelling to Hastings, Carterton, Gisborne, Whanganui, Hamilton, Blenheim, Nelson, Kerikeri, Ashburton and Whangārei, looks back with affection at the RNZB’s early days and travels through time.

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker has carefully curated a collection of works which encapsulate the history of ballet, and her desire to share treasures from the RNZB’s recent past alongside works new and old which the dancers can’t wait to perform.

Barker says, “Our 70th anniversary Tutus on Tour is a beautiful journey through magical ballet moments. It is an opportunity for audiences to experience how ballet has evolved through the decades, and for the dancers to showcase their incredible abilities to shift choreographic styles.”

Marie Taglioni’s Le Papillon (The Butterfly) from 1860 and Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain – made almost two centuries apart – both unveil the timeless magic of a couple dancing together, creating a breath-taking, intimate world onstage for the audience.

RNZB Dancer Damani Campbell Williams, who joined the company in 2022, says. “After the Rain is truly magical. Although there is no exact narrative, each movement carries so much weight and meaning that I get completely lost in it. It’s the ultimate feeling of escapism and the intimacy of the piece allows us to take the audience along the journey with us. I’m so excited to share this masterpiece with RNZB audiences and travel this beautiful country!”

‘Nobody Takes Me Seriously’ from 2001’s landmark FrENZy is a toe-tapping solo to Tim Finn’s Kiwi classic and the chance for one of the company’s men to cut loose, with style.

The Tutus on Tour 2023 programme is completed with two works each for eight dancers: the New Zealand premiere of Brian Enos’ elegantly neo-classical Cold Winter’s Waiting (2013) and Greg Horsman’s classical showpiece Holberg Suite, created for Tutus on Tour 2009 and now given a welcome revival.

Principal Mayu Tanigaito, who celebrates her 11th anniversary with the RNZB this year, says, “I have performed in many towns with Tutus on Tour, with my first being 10 years ago, and I have many great memories. The smaller venues allow for a more intimate connection with the audiences, and we always feel very welcome. I love the kiwi hospitality – some venues provide snacks, and sometimes children give us flowers and ask for autographs. While we can’t perform our biggest shows in the smaller venues, and so can’t visit as often, I am proud to dance for a ballet company which finds a way to bring ballet to the regions.”

Tickets are on sale now. 

The full RNZB 2023 programme can be found on www.rnzb.org.nz.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), the national ballet company of Aotearoa, was founded in 1953 by Danish dancer Poul Gnatt, as a touring professional ballet company for all New Zealanders. Based in Wellington, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s national heritage, and has one of the largest followings of all New Zealand performing arts companies. 

Dance ,

1 hour 40 minutes

This is one of the stronger programmes of recent years.

Review by Dr Ian Lochhead 13th Mar 2023

The return of Tutus on Tour in its traditional format, with the company split into two sections touring the North and South Island’s smaller centres, is a welcome development.  The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s South Island contingent’s final performance brought them to Ashburton’s Event Centre, a well-appointed modern venue with excellent sightlines.

The 2023 programme is well suited for this kind of tour and included works seen on previous Tutus tours, works new to the company and a mix of solos and pas de deux.  The programme opens with Greg Horsman’s Holberg Suite, set to Grieg’s suite for strings.  Made specifically for a previous Tutus on Tour programme in 2009 when Horsman was the company’s ballet master, it is ideally suited to showing off the dancers’ strengths.  Set on four couples, the work provides opportunities for the entire ensemble as well as differing combinations of dancers, to shine.  Following the opening Prelude the Sarabande is treated as a pas de trios, Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson and Luke Cooper providing secure and gallant support for Jennifer Ulloa, a new member to the company this season.  After the energetic Gavotte, Guillemot-Rodgerson partners Ana Gallardo Lobaina in the wistful Air before the spirited Rigaudon brings the work to a close. 

Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux featured in the company’s final 2022 programme and it is good to see a work performed in the main centres being shown in smaller venues around the country.  Set to the Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt’s haunting piece Spiegle im Spiegel, (Mirror in Mirror), it is given an assured performance by Kate Kadow and Calum Gray.  The slowly evolving piece, which includes a series of striking lifts, places considerable demands on the dancers and Kadow and Gray maintained their intense focus from beginning to end.

The first half closes with a complete change of mood, the brief solo from New Zealand choreographer Mark Baldwin’s FrENZy, ‘Nobody Takes Me Seriously’ to the music of Split Enz.  Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson’s spirited performance captured the moves but missed the anarchic energy that is the essence of the piece.  It was a reminder, nevertheless, that Baldwin is one of New Zealand’s outstanding international dance-makers and it would be timely for the RNZB to invite him to restage previous works he has made for it and to make a new piece on the company’s current crop of dancers.

Following the interval Cadence Barrack and Laurynas Véjalis perform the pas de deux from Le Papillon, originally created by Marie Taglioni, one of the great stars of the Romantic ballet in nineteenth-century Paris.  This provided a glimpse into another era of ballet’s history in which Vejalis was able to display a range of virtuoso leaps and turns.  Barrack’s butterfly-inspired tutu produced an audible gasp from the audience but the gossamer lightness required for the part of Farfalla, the girl who is transformed into a butterfly, eluded her.

The programme ends with Cold Winter’s Waiting, a further work for four pairs of dancers, thus bookending the evening in the manner in which it started.  In contrast with the classical vocabulary of Holberg Suite, Brian Enos’s choreography is in a contemporary idiom with music by contemporary French, American and Argentinian composers.  The mood is dark and brooding and a lone figure, danced strongly by Shaun James Kelly, opens and closes the work.  Apparently alienated from the larger group, he is briefly welcomed by his fellows before being cast out into the gloom once more.  Daniel Wilson’s lighting design adds to the impact of the work, but what is suitable for the moody tone of one piece does not necessarily work for another; After the Rain would have benefited from some warm sunlight brightening the pervasive gloom.

This is one of the stronger Tutus on Tour programmes of recent years, with a good balance of lighter and more substantial fare.  Regional audiences deserve to see the best the company can offer and the dancers commitment right to the end of their tour is clearly in evidence.  During the final curtain calls acknowledgement was made for Madeline Graham’s decade-long contribution as a dancer with the RNZB.  Recently promoted to soloist, she is now leaving to pursue future dance opportunities in Europe.  She has been a stalwart of the company with a highlight being her creation of the role of Juliet in Francesco Ventriglia’s production of Romeo and Juliet in 2017. She was farewelled with warm applause.


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Blend of tradition and the avant-garde, with something to offer audiences.

Review by Leila Lois 28th Feb 2023

The first touring season of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s seventieth birthday year and the last under the directorship of Patricia Barker, Tutus on Tour is set to be an auspicious event that enshrines the ballet company’s history, while heralding a new era. The bill for the tour is a characteristically capricious blend of tradition and the avant-garde, with something to offer audiences of differing ages and engagement in ballet. 

At the events centre venue, the lights lift on the sparkling first act, Holberg Suite, a picture perfect ensemble piece, choreographed by former RNZB ballet master, Greg Horsman. A classical ‘tutu ballet’ in miniature, the muscular, cheesecake charm of this piece with glittering tutus, wide smiles and immaculate petit allegro cannot fail to please. The various movements of Grieg’s score encapsulates the augustness of eighteenth century dances. Sassy flick flacks, épaulement and pas de trois add contemporary pizzazz. The male ensemble perform gravity-defying leaps and barrel turns like it’s a piece of cake. The work is spirited, fun and light as a feather but perhaps overly long with no narrative to hold the audience’s imagination in an otherwise snappy line-up.

The second piece for the evening, After the Rain by New York City Ballet choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, is predictably touching. Performed with such tenderness by soloists Kihiro Kusukami and Katherine Minor, this pas de deux to the sublime Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt oozes with pared back tenderness. The duo embrace, fall and lean into each other, with softness and strength. Minor’s ribcage rises and falls like a startled bird, under her nude leotard, as Kusukami lunges and lifts her, bare-chested in his pale washed pants. The piece culminates in her being carried above his head like a precious queen in a chariot and gently placed down, kissing her forehead; signature motions for this profoundly moving piece. 

The stage is swept with disco fever for the next piece, Nobody Takes Me Seriously, a solo from FrENZy by Mark Baldwin an excerpt from Ihi FrENZy, a collaboration between RNZB and kapa haka champions Te Matarae I Orehu to music by Kiwi treasures, Split Enz. Shae Berney, in sequinned jacket and spray-on black leggings shakes it on down—ballet style—bounding across the stage in air splits and tossing his hair like a lead singer. A highly enjoyable high energy, high octave piece to lead into interval. 

The second half features two starkly contrasting works: Le Papillion Pas De Deux and Cold Winter’s Waiting. The former is a gem of nineteenth century romantic ballet, choreographed by Marie Taglioni.. Brimming with elegance, airy lifts, dizzying spins and fluttering arms, Kihiro Kusukami and Mayu Tanigaito shine with ephemeral radiance. 

The final act for the evening, Cold Winter’s Waiting by Brian Enos, certainly lives up to its bleak name. Low candle-like lighting reveals the dancers staring starkly into the audience, the movie-like musical score of heavy bass piano and strings wafting through the night. The ensemble dance in pas de deux and formation with machine-like precision. Bare torsos and slicked back bunheads in clocklike turns add metropolitan desolation to the work. Cinema and dance collide in this futuristic piece. 
Tutus on Tour lives up to its celebrated, diverse and accessible reputation in an eventful year for the ballet.


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A gentle kiss on the forehead and the audience is breathless.

Review by Lyne Pringle 25th Feb 2023

Tutus on Tour is an opportunity for smaller centres to experience the Royal New Zealand Ballet in more intimate venues. It has become an iconic part of their programme, eagerly anticipated by audiences across Aotearoa. Opening night for the 2023 tour at Te Raukura ki Kāpiti is greeted warmly by a full auditorium. To read more


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