Based in Wellington, the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) is a company of 40 dynamic dancers, performing a broad repertoire of outstanding dance for national and international audiences, whilst continuing to build a style that is unique to the company and to New Zealand. Since June 2017, the company has been under the artistic direction of Patricia Barker, distinguished former principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet, and previously Artistic Director of Grand Rapids Ballet, Michigan.
During the 2018 season, the RNZB presented a new full-length ballet based on Jane Campion’s The Piano, by Jiří and Otto Bubeníček; Dancing with Mozart, a mixed bill including Balanchine’s Divertimento No. 15, Corey Baker’s The Last Dance and Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze; Strength & Grace, four new works by Penny Saunders, Sarah Foster-Sproull, Danielle Rowe and Andrea Schermoly to commemorate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand; and a new production of The Nutcracker by Val Caniparoli.
In 2019 the RNZB will perform in 20 centres around New Zealand, including a programme of new commissions by New Zealand and international choreographers; Mário Radačovský’s Black Swan, White Swan; Bold Moves, a mixed bill of Balanchine’s Serenade, Forsythe’s Artifact II and Andrea Schermoly’s Stand to Reason; and a new production of Hansel & Gretel by Australian / New Zealand choreographer Loughlan Prior.
Recent seasons have seen the Royal New Zealand Ballet complete three major tours in China, including Beijing, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Zhengzhou and three visits to the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre. Repertoire for these appearances included Giselle, in a stunning new production by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, Prokofiev’s masterpieces Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella in vibrant modern versions by Christopher Hampson, as well as triple bill repertoire by Hampson, Javier de Frutos, Cameron McMillan and Andrew Simmons.
In 2004, the RNZB undertook a major six week tour of the United Kingdom, winning two prestigious Olivier Award nominations for its performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. Subsequently the company returned to the UK in 2011 and 2015, garnering much critical and audience acclaim, including further nominations at the Olivier and UK National Dance awards, most recently for Javier de Frutos’ Pacific-inspired work The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud, performed at notable dance venues including the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The company has also toured to France (Carcassonne, 2011), the USA (Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis, New York City, 2014) and Italy (Udine, Vicenza, Rome, 2015).
Askonas Holt’s latest project with the Royal New Zealand Ballet saw the company give sell-out performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in a new production by Liam Scarlett, at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin Town Hall during October 2016.