Four extraordinary choreographers are making state-of-the art moves with the dancers of the Royal New Zealand Ballet to showcase an explosion of Kiwi talent, which will leave audiences in Wellington and Christchurch breathless.
The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s New Choreographic Series, premiering on 1 March features works from choreographers Sarah Foster Sproull, Moss Patterson, James O’Hara and Shaun James Kelly. These new generation dance-makers are redefining ballet in the 21stcentury, as they take their unique styles of choreography and artistry to the world.
RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker expresses her passion for new work by establishing this annual programme saying: “Providing a platform for choreographers and new work is essential to the future of any organization. Having works created on the talents of the Royal New Zealand Ballet which draw on our place in world and reflect unique diversity is a must.”
Dunedin-born, Auckland-based Sarah Foster-Sproull returns to the RNZB after an extended period of working in China and Fiji. Sarah brings the wild imagination and energy that thrilled audiences when she premiered the explosive and brazenly colourful Despite the Loss of Small Detailin the RNZB’s 2018 Strength and Grace.
This time Sarah is making a powerful work for the RNZB’s much-loved Abigail Boyle and transforms her into the Greek deity Artemis, formidable goddess of the hunt, wild animals and fertility. With a bespoke soundtrack by long-time collaborator and dance music maestro Eden Mulholland (Motorcade) this new creation celebrates one of New Zealand’s greatest dance artists, at the peak of her powers.
Moss Te Ururangi Patterson (Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Pukenga, Ngati Rahiri) has been at the forefront of Maori contemporary dance for decades and was the Artistic Director of Atamira Dance Company from 2010 to 2018. Now, he shares his clear indigenous voice with the dancers of the RNZB in a work of power and authenticity that is sure to become part of the RNZB’s DNA.
His exploration of Maori mythology and dance with music ranging from traditional taonga puoro instruments to the raging sounds of Te Reo heavy metal band Alien Weaponry give birth to a fusion reverberating through time and obliterating all preconceptions of what a ballet company is capable of in a new vision of cross-cultural collaboration.
Shaun James Kelly is loved by New Zealand audiences for his joyful, musical dancing in both classical and contemporary works. With his first work for the RNZB’s main stage since being appointed as Choreographer in Residence with the company, he stakes his claim as one of this country’s most exciting innovators of classical dance choreography. His adoration of the exquisite lines that only ballet can bring, set against the brilliant structure, momentum and harmonic drive of J S Bach promises that this new work will satisfy lovers of pure dance in all its forms.
Few dancers have flourished so completely in both the ballet and contemporary dance as James O’Hara. His talents as a dancer and dance-maker are equally suited to global dance giants from Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York to the Paris Opera Ballet, staging works on The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, touring with ballet star Sergei Polunin and disseminating his formidable knowledge to the students at the New Zealand School of Dance, the official school of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. He collaborates with Christchurch born experimental composer Motte (Anita Clark) who will perform her score live onstage with dancers from the RNZB.
The RNZB New Choreographic Series will premiere at Wellington’s Opera House on Friday 1 March and at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch on Friday 8 March.