RNZB Dancers mark retirement with a final pas de deux

30 May 2022

The Royal New Zealand Ballet will farewell two of its longest-serving dancers next month. After more than a decade with the Company, Principal Joseph Skelton and Soloist Katherine Skelton (née Grange) will retire from their long and distinguished performing careers, which have taken them both all over Aotearoa and around the world, to start a new life away from the limelight. The couple who married in 2017 are looking forward to a new chapter and keen to see what opportunities and pathways lie ahead.  

“Our time at the RNZB has been a huge part of our lives and we have so many great memories from on and off the stage that we will treasure, and many close friendships gained,” says Katherine. “We have had a myriad of wonderful experiences, especially in the last few years, working with Patricia and her team. We have decided, after our full and rewarding careers of 11 and 12 years, it is time for us to transition into something new together.” 

“I am so proud of everything that Kat and Joseph have achieved during their long time with the RNZB,” says Artistic Director Patricia Barker. “Over the last five years it has been a pleasure to see them making their mark in iconic roles, and to see them grow as senior dancers in the company. They retire and move on to this next stage in their lives together with all the love, support and luck that we can give them and will always be part of our RNZB family.” 

Born in the UK, Katherine Skelton grew up in Tauranga and trained at the Dance Education Centre there and at the New Zealand School of Dance. She joined the RNZB as the Todd Scholar in 2010 and was promoted to Soloist in 2020. Katherine’s repertoire has encompassed many memorable classical and contemporary roles, with recent highlights including her debuts as Aurora in Patricia Barker’s production of The Sleeping Beauty (2020) and Giselle in the production by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg (2021), the title role in Loughlan Prior’s The Firebird (2021) and Gretel in his Hansel & Gretel (2019). 

Joseph Skelton was born in Gisborne and grew up in Pukekohe. He trained in the UK at The Royal Ballet School and the Elmhurst School for Dance, returning to New Zealand in 2011 to join the RNZB. He was promoted to Soloist in 2019 and Principal in 2021. Joseph’s roles with the RNZB have included Lysander and Oberon in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2015, 2016, 2021), Albrecht in Giselle (2016 and 2021), a role he went on to perform with The Australian Ballet and the Greek National Opera Ballet in 2016, Don José in Roland Petit’s Carmen (2017), Romeo in Francesco Ventriglia’s Romeo and Juliet (2017) and the Father in Loughlan Prior’s Hansel & Gretel (2019). 

The RNZB will mark Katherine and Joseph’s retirement with a specially-filmed performance of the Act II pas de deux from Giselle – a ballet in which they both performed with distinction with the RNZB around New Zealand and touring in China, the USA, the UK and Italy. Kat and Joseph’s ‘last dance’ will be released via the RNZB’s Facebook page on Wednesday 1 June. 

Katherine and Joseph would like to thank their families and everyone who has supported them on their ballet journey, from student days right through until their retirement from the RNZB. In addition to Patricia Barker and the other artistic directors, choreographers, stagers and teachers who have worked with them, they would like to thank their sponsors through the RNZB’s Partner a Dancer programme, Ann-Louise and Campbell Gower (Katherine) and Gibson Sheat Lawyers (Joseph). 

received_753044916071429 Katherine and Joseph in two of their first solo roles with the RNZB, Ima and Zoltán in Coppélia, 2014. Photograph courtesy of Katherine Skelton.
1 Katherine Skelton in Act II of Giselle performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, 2021. Photo credit: Stephen A'Court. Joseph Skelton in Romeo and Juliet, performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, 2017. Photo credit: Stephen A'Court. Katherine Skelton, wearing dress by Hailwood, and Joseph Skelton wearing suit by Studio W, David Jones. Photo credit: Ross Brown.