Mid-year company news from the Royal New Zealand Ballet

Mid-year company news from the Royal New Zealand Ballet: welcoming new talent from New Zealand and overseas

  • A warm welcome to distinguished guest artist Simone Messmer
  • Welcome to young dancers on secondment from the New Zealand School of Dance and from the USA
  • Five pre-professional students from New Zealand and Australia to join the RNZB on short-term placements
  • Farewell to three dancers who leave the RNZB for Europe this month

The Royal New Zealand Ballet this month welcomes Simone Messmer who joins us as a guest artist for Bold Moves. Simone is a former principal dancer with Miami City Ballet and soloist with San Francisco Ballet and American Ballet Theatre.

We also welcome Lara Flannery and Callahan Laird from the New Zealand School of Dance, on secondment to the RNZB for the Bold Movesrehearsal period and national tour. Nicole Denney, a young competition winner from California also joins us as an extra dancer for this tour. In addition, we are delighted to welcome a number of young students into our studios in July. They will work closely with the company for a few weeks, gaining valuable knowledge of the ballet profession and insights into company life. The students are:

Macy Cook from the Chilton Ballet Academy, Lower Hutt, who will leave New Zealand in August to commence full-time training at Houston Ballet Academy;

Arabella Moore from The Dance Education Centre, Tauranga, who will go from Wellington to a summer scholarship at The Rambert School in London;

Asia-Rose Blowfield from Mount Eden Ballet Academy, Auckland, and Nicola Robinson from The Conlan College, New South Wales, who were invited to undertake this placement as a result of their performances in the recent Alana Haines Australasian Awards; and

Rebekah Terry from Mount Eden Ballet Academy, Auckland, a finalist in the Sir John Logan Campbell Ballet Award and winner of the Audience Award at the 2018 PACANZ National Ballet Award.

This month we bid farewell to: 

Principal dancer Alexandre Ferreira, currently sponsored by Nautilus Estate of Marlborough, who joined the company in 2016, having previously danced in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miami City Ballet, USA and Milwaukee Ballet USA. Alexandre is leaving to pursue new opportunities in France. 

Artist Marie Varlet, who also joined the company in 2016, leaves the RNZB to return to France. Marie trained at the Paris Opéra Ballet School and danced with the Joffrey Ballet trainee programme in Chicago Illinois, USA before dancing with Ballett Zurich and Milwaukee Ballet. 

Apprentice Joaquin Angelucci, who joined the RNZB in 2018, leaves us to take up a position at the Bayerisches Junior Ballett München, the training company of the Bayerisches Staatsballet in Munich.

 ‘All of us here at the RNZB wish these dancers the very best in their new adventures, says Artistic Director Patricia Barker. ‘They have been a part of many of our memorable performances during their time with us, delighting our audiences around the country and I wish them well in their future careers.’

The RNZB is now rehearsing for Bold Moves, which will feature landmark works by George Balanchine and William Forsythe alongside Andrea Schermoly’s Stand to Reason, commissioned by Patricia Barker in 2018 for the suffrage-themed Strength & Grace programme. Balanchine’s iconic Serenade, created in 1934, was first staged here in 1975 and has not been performed by the RNZB since the 1980s. The company is looking forward to bringing this exciting programme to six centres around the country, following our opening in Wellington on 16 August.

Patricia Barker says: ‘Serenade will be my first staging for the company. As a Balanchine répétiteur I am delighted to share this work with our audiences and our dancers. I especially look forward to having so many young dancers from around the country and the School of Dance in our studios working alongside our dancers as we embark on the complexity and beauty that is Serenade.’

NZ Ballet Company Serenade 1975 The New Zealand Ballet Company performs 'Serenade' by George Balanchine in 1975. Photograph by Martin Stewart, RNZB Collection, PAColl-8050-28-42, ATL