RNZB Education Goes Digital

9 April 2022

We might not be hitting the road to go on tour until later this year, but that has not stopped us from pursuing digital growth and exploring new platforms to reach our amazing audiences. Our RNZB Education Team has been delivering an incredible suite of online classes and resources to continue engaging with students, teachers and young dancers across the country. 

Driven by the need to innovate during the ongoing pandemic, RNZB Education has turned to the virtual environment to find new ways to connect with schools in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Step Online Ugly Duckling primary schools’ resource offers compelling evidence that this initiative is meeting a need that the RNZB is ideally placed to address. 

This new digital resource, designed for year 1–6 primary school students, includes a performance of The Ugly Duckling (a ballet adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale) and a step-by-step tutorial where the children learn a sequence from the ballet. It supports curriculum delivery and brings the joy of dance to the students, all while exploring the fascinating world of ballet. 

RNZB Education, Community & Accessibility Manager Pascale Parenteau says, “ 
We’ve been excited about such an amazing response! It demonstrates the impact RNZB Education is having on the sector, as we keep the world of dance open and accessible to teachers and their students in the face of a pandemic that continues to disrupt the best-laid plans for any return to normality.” 

As of this week, 405 teachers have requested the digital resource. This means that 36,407 students have had access to the resource this term alone, allowing them to have a go at the step-by-step tutorial as they are guided by our dance educators to learn a sequence from the ballet. 

Following the success of our Step Online Ugly Duckling primary schools’ dance resource, the RNZB’s Education team has offered teachers and their students the chance to connect with the national ballet company on an even deeper level. We’ve offered access to live Q&A sessions with RNZB Dancer and Dance Educator Jamie Delmonte, as well as free Zoom dance workshops with RNZB Dance Educator Lauren Byrne.  

To date, four schools registered and attended this week’s Q&A Sessions with Jamie Delmonte (145 students) and fifteen schools across New Zealand registered to take part in next week’s Zoom Dance Workshops with Dance Educator Lauren Byrne (616 students). 

“This resource came at the perfect time for us as our focus for the week was Diversity. Watching the performance and listening to the narration gave a wonderful concrete example of what it means to embrace other people when they are different from you. Earlier in the week, one of our boys was calling another boy “a ballerina” as an insult. Seeing the seven men dancing and being so strong was an eye-opener for this child. In fact, he became very engrossed in the performance and ended up being one of the best performers of the choreography!” 

Helen Pine, Teacher – Rewa Rewa School, Wellington 

Additionally, this year’s Open and Ballet for Boys online classes have been proving to be very popular with 828 views recorded so far.  

For the first time this year, the twenty-nine mentees selected for the RNZB National Mentor Programme had the opportunity to meet their RNZB Dancer virtually, rather than in person when the company is on tour. Again, despite the postponement of Venus Rising and the cancellation of Swan Lake 

With all the amazing digital and online work accomplished in the first three months of 2022, our RNZB Education team has:  

  • Created six videos 
  • Delivered ten live online events 
  • Reached a grand total of 37,551 people – a record for the company! 

These unprecedented numbers and the overwhelmingly positive feedback received so far is proof of the impact RNZB Education is having on dance in schools and especially on teachers and their students, opening the world of dance to new audiences in ways that challenge, excite and inspire. 

The next project in the pipeline is the development and creation of a brand-new resource – the RNZB NCEA Teacher Support Resource. This resource is being designed to support teaching and learning related to performance, choreography, and dance perspectives in secondary schools. Based on the ballet genre, it is not aligned to a specific assessment but rather a series of tasks and material to support teaching and learning in various contexts. 

We’d like to thank the Lion Foundation and the Four Winds Foundation for their ongoing support of the RNZB’s education, community and accessibility programmes, together with Foundation North, Wellington City Council, the Rata Foundation, Trustees Executors, the Kelliher Charitable Trust, Wellington Community Fund, the Royal New Zealand Ballet Foundation, the Walker & Hall Trust and the Fehl Charitable Trust. 

Students at Leigh School in Warkworth watching RNZB Step Online Ugly Duckling primary school resource, 2022.
RNZB Dance Educator Jamie Delmonte in Zoom dance workshop with students from Kaiapoi High School, March 2022. Photography by Dan Harris.