Meet the Choreographer

RNZB Choreographer in Residence Loughlan Prior is bringing The Firebird back to life on stages around Aotearoa this winter.

Find out more about the inspiration behind the masterpiece and the creative process.

What was your inspiration behind The Firebird?

“Our vision for the production has been inspired in equal measure by the mythology of the phoenix, an avian goddess and protective deity with elemental powers; and the current environmental crisis facing Mother Nature today.”

What made you decide to tell this story as a world facing a climate crisis?

“In Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, our human story makes up just a tiny portion. We live in a very special place and thrive in Earth’s glory days, in a time of temperate conditions, stabilised obliquity, active geology and diverse flourishing life. Above all, The Firebird is a celebration of our gratitude for the planet, as we diligently strive to look after our home and each other.”

How does the original story of The Firebird fit into this new commission?

“The phoenix is placed at the very heart of our story as we follow the arc of her life cycle. The parallels contained within the legend extend deep into our modern world. I believe the power to ignite a collective hope in humankind is one of the strongest forces in the universe.”

Tell us how Stravinsky’s music has helped frame this story for you.  Do you have any personal connection to the music?  If so, how has this influenced you?

“I first encountered Stravinsky’s music for The Firebird at age five: it was love at first listen. Choreographically, Stravinsky’s score inspires a rich vocabulary of movement, with very clear languages emerging to identify different characters.”

Who or what is The Firebird?

“The Firebird is a fertility goddess and guardian of the natural world. She is represented in numerous cultures and iterations across the ancient world, she appears wreathed in flame to those in need of guidance.”

The Firebird is a force of nature, what are three qualities she portrays?

“Hope, wisdom and restoration.”

How have you depicted the movement of the Firebird in your choreography?

“From the onset of the process, a conscious choice was made to develop choreography en pointe solely for the dancer portraying the Firebird. The ethereal, elongated and bird-like quality the pointe shoe creates is a perfect tool for portraying her magical nature and heightened status.”

Don’t miss The Firebird with Paquita featuring Loughlan’s latest commission with the RNZB.

Touring nationally from 29 July.

Photos: Choreographer in Residence Loughlan Prior with Guest Principal Artist Harrison James and Soloist Ana Gallardo Lobaina.

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