Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Venus Rising Ascends

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) spectacular programme of three ballets, Venus Rising, will finally make its way to Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland after two years and four postponements.

Three extraordinary works choreographed by three formidable women who have blazed a trail on the international stage make up the powerful programme opening 24 November in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, 1 December in Ōtautahi Christchurch, and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland on 8 December. It captures the spirit of Venus – the brightest of stars, and herald of the dusk and dawn. A sacred goddess of love, beauty and victory over adversity.

Meditative and moving, Alice Topp’s award-winning Aurum is inspired by the Japanese art of kintsugi, the practice of mending cracks in precious ceramics with gold, creating a new whole which celebrates the beauty of the broken. Bendigo-born and Resident Choreographer at the Australian Ballet, Topp started her career dancing with the RNZB, which holds a special place in her heart along with Aotearoa’s theatres and dance lovers.

The Autumn Ball, created by one of New Zealand’s brightest choreographic stars Sarah Foster-Sproull and commissioned in 2021 by the Wānaka Festival of Colour, dances through the circle of life with tenderness, grace and floor-filling fun. The driving rhythms of Eden Mulholland’s commissioned score will have the audience wishing that they could join in the dance.

Twyla Tharp is one of the world’s greatest living choreographers. In Waterbaby Bagatelles, created in 1994 and never seen in Aotearoa, 27 dancers leap and spin across the stage in an ever-changing ocean of light; the music flowing seamlessly as groups of dancers sparkle and glow.

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker says, “This is a generous, glorious celebration of ballet and the joy of pure dance created by some of the finest choreographers working on the international stage today. We look forward to celebrating Christmas with captivating, charismatic, and uplifting ballet.”

Tickets are on sale now.

Programme credits

Waterbaby Bagatelles

Choreography: Twyla Tharp
Staging: Shelley Washington
Music: Anton Webern, Astor Piazzolla, John Adams, Kevin Volans, Mickey Hart, David Lang, John Lurie
Design: Santo Loquasto
Original Lighting Design Jennifer Tipton
Lighting Realisation and Design: Randall G Chiarelli


Choreography: Alice Topp
Music: Ludovico Einaudi
Design: Alice Topp
Set and Lighting Design: Jon Buswell
Lighting Realisation and Design: Randall G Chiarelli

The Autumn Ball

Choreography: Sarah Foster-Sproull
Music: Eden Mulholland
Costume design: Donna Jefferis/Sarah Foster-Sproull
Lighting design: Daniel Wilson