We are thrilled to welcome Neve Pierce into her new role of Dance Educator here at the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Neve has an extensive background in dance, and has hit the ground running teaching tamariki across the country in just three months of the job!
We spoke to Neve about her background in dance, and what excites her about her about working with the RNZB.
Tell us about your journey from Dancer to Dance Educator!
I first began dancing in my hometown of Taranaki at the age of 5. All of my friends had joined ballet so naturally I wanted to do the same! From 5 years old my love for moving grew more and more, and before I knew it I had taken up almost all other forms of dancing from jazz, to contemporary, tap, competitions, the whole lot!
It wasn’t till I was about 15 or 16 that I seriously considered going into fulltime dance training. I moved down to Wellington in 2017 as a fresh 17 year old to begin training at the New Zealand School of Dance as a Contemporary major. I was lucky enough to have been taught by some incredible local and international tutors and choreographers in my three years at the school.
I finished my final year feeling super inspired and ready to jump into the big world of freelancing. I spent my first three months as a new graduate over in Australia. I performed in the Sydney Arts Festival as part of Stephanie Lake’s Colossus, as well as a few secondments and doing as much dancing as I could! Unfortunately this all came to a sudden holt when Covid began to make its way to us. I then made my way back to New Zealand just in time to go into lockdown. After a few job cancellations and lots of restrictions things slowly began to go back to normal.
A few highlights performing so far have been with Footnote Dance as part of the 2021 ChoreoCo performance, Discotheques “SUPERNATURAL” choreographed by Holly Newsome and Good Company Arts “Ad Parnassum”. In between freelancing I began teaching dance and wellness classes at both dance schools and High Schools. This is what led me to apply for the role of Dance Educator at the RNZB, I was really interested in offering dance classes in schools to students that may be interested in dance but have never had the opportunity to give it a go.
How does what you learned at New Zealand School of Dance help when teaching?
A big part of the contemporary programme at the NZSD is creating choreography and the tools that are required to do so. It’s important to me to offer the students interesting and creative ways in which they can move their bodies. This can be done through teaching exercises or through setting them a task to create their own movement.
Another important part to teach the students is safe dance practice and how this can be used outside of dance as well. For example, always beginning any class with a thorough warmup to prevent injuries from occurring, then taking a few minutes at the end of the class to cool down and stretch.
What have you learned so far from being a Dance Educator?
That teaching students dance is a privilege. It’s important for me to encourage and create a safe space for them to give it a go and find new ways of moving their bodies.
What are you looking forward to this year at the RNZB and working with the Education Team?
The opportunity to reach schools all over Aotearoa and sharing with them a creative and physical experience in dance.
I’m excited to collaborate with my colleagues in the education team to continually keep developing the programme. To keep finding new ways to involve the community and fellow aspiring dancers.
I feel fortunate to be someone that is able to inspire the next generation of dancers in a fun, supportive and healthy environment.
Photos by Stephen A’Court and Dan Harris.