Born in Palmerston North, Luke Cooper started dancing at a young age. He joined the New Zealand School of Dance Associate programme at the age of 12, moving to Wellington to join the full-time training programme in 2014. During his time at NZSD, he excelled in roles such as the second movement pas de deux in Kenneth Macmillan’s Concerto and the closing pas de deux from Jiří Bubeníček’s Dance Gallantries.
Prior to joining the RNZB full time in 2018 as the Todd Scholar, Luke as a student performed in the company’s productions of Adrian Burnett’s Don Quixote (2015), Francesco Ventriglia’s The Wizard of Oz (2016) and, after graduating, in Roland Petit’s Carmen and L’Arlésienne (2017).
Luke began 2018 with performances in The Piano: the ballet and was featured in the documentary The Heart Dances – The Journey of The Piano: the ballet, directed by Rebecca Tansley, which followed the creation process for the ballet adaptation of Jane Campion’s critically acclaimed film The Piano.
Along with performances in the triple bill Dancing with Mozart which included Jiri Kylian’s Sechs Tanze and the premiere of Penny Saunders’ So to Speak and Danielle Rowe’s Remember, Mama in the Strength & Grace programme, a highlight from the 2018 season was Tutus on Tour where Luke performed alongside Sir Jon Trimmer in Loughlan Prior’s The Long and the Short of It. Luke rounded out a successful first season with RNZB dancing an array of soloist and corps roles in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker including Spanish Chocolate and Russian Caviar.
Luke began 2019 delving into his cultural heritage as a descendant of the Te Arawa tribe, leading the haka in Moss Patterson’s Hine for the New Choreographic Series. He has danced roles in Mário Radačovský’s Black Swan White Swan, George Balanchine’s Serenade and William Forsythe’s Artifact II. Luke finished off 2019 with great success, discovering the art of pantomime, performing the ‘camp, melodramatic, child devouring’ role of the Transformed Witch in Loughlan Prior’s Hansel & Gretel. 2020 began with Luke revisiting Danielle Rowe’s Remember Mama, dancing the Adult Son for Tutus on Tour. Throughout the year, Luke rehearsed many ballets including Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles which unfortunately did not make it to stage due to Covid-19. He finished the year dancing an array of roles in The Sleeping Beauty, including Puss in Boots.
Hansel & Gretel
The Sleeping Beauty
Puss in Boots
The Sleeping Beauty