The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) is pleased to announce that three young, New Zealand-trained dancers, together with one from the USA, will be joining the company in 2022. In addition, two of the young dancers who have held Scholar positions with the RNZB in 2021 will join the company as Artists for 2022.
We also announce next steps for dancers who are retiring from the stage or moving on to new stages in their careers in dance and elsewhere.
The Todd Scholarship is funded by Todd Corporation in one of New Zealand’s longest-running arts sponsorships, to support a graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance in their first year as a full-time professional dancer with the RNZB. Tessa Karle will join the RNZB as the 2022 Todd Scholar. Born in Canberra and trained locally, Tessa moved to Wellington in 2018 to train at the New Zealand School of Dance. She performed as a guest dancer with the RNZB for The Sleeping Beauty at the end of 2020, while still a student, and has continued to perform with the company in 2021.
Born in Tauranga and trained at the Dance Education Centre under Prue and Debbie Gooch before training at the New Zealand School of Dance, Jake Gisby joins the RNZB in 2022 as one of two Friedlander Foundation Scholars. Alongside his training at NZSD, Jake took part in a number of international competitions and summer schools, including at San Francisco Ballet and The Royal Ballet School. Prior to returning home to New Zealand in mid-2020, Jake danced with Oklahoma City Ballet. Since his return he has performed as a guest dancer with the RNZB.
Our second Friedlander Foundation Scholar for 2022 is Macy Cook, who was born in Wellington and trained at Chilton Ballet Academy and at Houston Ballet Academy’s Professional Program. Macy was a Friedlander Foundation Scholar in 2021. Due to an injury which prevented her from rehearsing and performing for an extended period during 2021, her scholarship has been renewed for 2022.
Monet Galea-Hewitt joins the RNZB in 2022 as the Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation Scholar. Monet was born in Auckland and trained at the Philippa Campbell School of Ballet. In 2018 she was a gold medalist at the Adeline Genée Awards in Hong Kong and commenced training at the English National Ballet School in London. Monet returned to New Zealand in 2020 and has performed with the RNZB as a guest dancer in 2021.
2021 Todd Scholar Dane Head joins the company as an Artist for 2022, together with 2021 Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation Scholar Jemima Scott. They are joined as Artists by Gretchen Steimle, from Austin, Texas, who will arrive in January.
During 2021 the RNZB was also pleased to welcome young Kiwi dancers Damen Axtens and Shae Berney home to Aotearoa, and both will continue with the company as Artists in 2022. Damen was born in Pukekohe and trained at The Australian Ballet School and The Royal Ballet School before joining Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2020. Shae grew up in Lower Hutt and trained at Chilton Dance Centre before moving to the English National Ballet School and the European School of Ballet’s pre-professional programme, and the Finnish National Ballet’s Youth Company.
The RNZB also bids farewell to dancers who are moving on to new opportunities, onstage and off, and wishes them every success in their future endeavours.
Artist Leonora Voigtlander, who joined the company in 2014, retires from performing to begin a new role with Les Mills. Leonora, who grew up in the USA and in Nelson, has excelled in both classical and contemporary roles during her seven and a half years with the RNZB, and has also worked with RNZB Education. Highlights include solo roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, the Jêté Girl in Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Shaun James Kelly’s The Soldier’s Tale with the NZSO, and the crazy ‘Food People’ pas de deux in Hansel and Gretel, a role created especially for her.
Artist Jamie Delmonte, who joined the RNZB as one of two inaugural Friedlander Foundation Scholars in 2020, will be taking a temporary break from the stage in 2022 to move to a new role as a Dance Educator with RNZB Education. Jamie’s recent performances with the RNZB have included the collaboration with the NZSO, The Soldier’s Tale, and he has also worked with RNZB Education during the latter part of 2021, delivering workshops in schools and for inclusive dance organization WIDance.
Artist Sophie Williams, who joined the RNZB in 2020, returns to the USA to take up a contract with Texas Ballet Theatre. Sophie has cherished her time in New Zealand as an opportunity to connect with the Kiwi side of her family, and we look forward to catching up with her when she is next able to visit down under.
2021 Friedlander Foundation Scholar George Thomson will be leaving the RNZB to return to tertiary education in 2022.
Principal Nadia Yanowsky, who has been on maternity leave since mid-2020, has retired from full-time dancing. Nadia, who joined the RNZB as a guest in late 2017 and then permanently as a Principal in 2019, enjoyed a long and distinguished career with English National Ballet and Dutch National Ballet before moving to New Zealand. Her move has proved both happy and permanent, and she is now settled here with husband Pete and daughter Lulu. Nadia’s roles with the RNZB included Ada in The Piano: the ballet, Balanchine’s Serenade and Divertimento No. 15, William Forsythe’s In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Artifact II and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker, and she originated solo roles in Danielle Rowe’s Remember, Mama, Moss Te Ururangi Patterson’s Hine and Loughlan Prior’s Hansel and Gretel. In 2020, Nadia was awarded the Harry Haythorne Award for Choreography for her short work for RNZB RAW, EóN, and also created a children’s ballet, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Soloist Caroline Wiley, who joined the RNZB in 2018, and Artist Jack Lennon, who joined the company in 2020, returned to the USA in mid-2021 ahead of their wedding in August and Jack’s commencement of study at the University of Notre Dame in September.
Artist Edward Smith, who joined the RNZB in 2020 and took a leave of absence in mid-2021 in order to take up new opportunities in Australia, has now left the RNZB in order to join the cast for the new Australian production of Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Paris.
Artistic Director Patricia Barker and her team look forward to a new year in the studio and onstage and especially to continuing to work closely with the New Zealand School of Dance and ballet schools around the country to support the learning and enjoyment of dancers at all stages of their dance journeys.