New Zealand’s prestigious professional ballet scholarship has been awarded to 19 year old Wellingtonian Sophie Arbuckle, securing her a place with the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) for 2017.
The Todd Scholarship provided by the Todd Corporation is awarded annually to an outstanding graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD).
Sophie graduated from the NZSD in December last year after three years with the national dance school. She was already well known to the RNZB after joining the company on secondment in 2015 and 2016 – opportunities that saw her travel to Europe to perform in Giselle in the UK and Italy, and re-joining the company for its New Zealand Giselle tour in 2016.
Another NZSD student 19 year old Yuri Marques who has just completed his second year with the NZSD was offered a contract to join the RNZB for 2017. Yuri had also danced with the company while he was a NZSD student, most recently also joining the RNZB for Giselle in 2016.
RNZB Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia says: “It’s wonderful to welcome Sophie and Yuri to the RNZB family as company members and to provide this professional opportunity for two students from our Official School.
We are also very grateful to long standing partner the Todd Corporation who have provided this wonderful scholarship for 17 years. “
Sophie and Yuri both started with the RNZB on 4 January 2017.
After auditions in Wellington, London, and Melbourne, for which the RNZB had a huge number of applications, Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia was able to offer contracts to six new dancers.
The RNZB is happy to welcome Sara Garbowski (from the Royal Ballet of Flanders), Isabelle Swietlicki (from the English National Ballet) Pablo Romero (from the New English Ballet Theatre), Emanuele Chiesa (recently danced with Aterballetto and Teatro San Carlo di Napoli), Nicolai Gorodiskii (from Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón in Argentina ) and Filippo Valmorbida (from Jas Art Ballet in Milan).
Following a funding increase from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in Budget 2016/2017 the RNZB has been able to increase the number of dancers employed from 34 to 36.