After more than 13 years at the heart of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Principal Dancer Abigail Boyle will retire from the national ballet company next month. Her last performances with the RNZB will be in Artemis Rising, a new work specially created for her by choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull, which will premiere as part of the RNZB’s Choreographic Series from 1 – 9 March.
Acclaimed for her performances in both classical and contemporary roles, and as an exceptional dramatic artist, Abigail has inspired many choreographers, both local and international, to create works especially for her. Her central role in TV3’s The Secret Lives of Dancers (2010, 2012, 2014), brought her a following throughout New Zealand that has extended far beyond the world of ballet.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the audience members who appreciated my work and supported me throughout my career.’ says Abigail. ‘It is now my turn to give back to the arts industry in New Zealand.’
‘Abigail is an outstanding artist’ says RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker. ‘Her long and rich career with the RNZB is an inspiration to dancers throughout New Zealand, and to those who may aspire to join our profession one day. I know that many New Zealanders will have special memories of seeing her onstage, and I am delighted that we are able to honour her through the creation of a new work which will encapsulate many of those memories.’
‘I am delighted that Abigail will be staying in the dance world as a teacher and coach inspiring and mentoring the next generation of young dancers.’
Abigail is currently completing the Royal Academy of Dance Professional Dancers Postgraduate Training Certificate, as preparation for the next stage of her career in dance. Following her retirement she will join RNZB Education, teaching open classes for pre-vocational dance students around New Zealand during the RNZB’s Black Swan, White Swan tour (May – July 2019). Abigail will be coaching and developing emerging talent privately throughout New Zealand and she will also continue to teach pre-vocational and full-time students through the New Zealand School of Dance, an association she began in 2018.
In 2018, Abigail starred in the lead role of Ada in The Piano: the ballet by Jiří and Otto Bubeníček (2018), captured in Rebecca Tansley’s feature documentary, The Heart Dances. Despite the Loss of Small Detail by Sarah Foster Sproull showed her power and charisma onstage, while Petite Mort and Sechs Tanze by Jiří Kylián highlighted her lyrical side and immaculate comic timing. She completed the year performing multiple roles in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker, including Dewdrop and Arabian Coffee.
Abigail’s principal roles with the RNZB include the title role in Didy Veldman’s Carmen, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and Balanchine’s Who Cares? In 2012 Abigail performed the role of Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, in Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s landmark production of Giselle, a performance subsequently captured in Toa Fraser’s Giselle(2013) and reprised during the RNZB’s 2013 China tour and in 2014 at sell-out performances at the LA Music Center and at the Granada Theater, Santa Barbara and during the RNZB’s 2015 UK and Italy tour.
In 2013 she created a memorable role in Javier De Frutos’ The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud, commissioned to mark the RNZB’s 60thbirthday and subsequently performed in the UK and Italy in 2015. In 2015 she also created the role of Helena in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream reprising the role in Hong Kong and Wellington in 2016.
Abigail has appeared as Mercedes and the Queen of the Dryads in Don Quixote (2008, 2015), Tall Step Sister Cinderella (2007, 2012), Glinda the Good in The Wizard of Oz (2016) and in William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated (2016). In 2017, her show-stopping portrayal of Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet affirmed her standing as one of New Zealand’s finest stage artists.
The RNZB Choreographic Series, including Sarah Foster-Sproull’s Artemis Rising, created in celebration of Abigail Boyle, is at the Opera House, Wellington, on 1 – 2 March and the Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch, on 8 – 9 March. For booking information please see rnzb.org.nz.