Ballet company has big plans for next year

Next year will see the Royal New Zealand Ballet presenting four new ballets, working with one of the biggest names in New Zealand fashion and taking on the world with a major international tour to Europe.

The ballet company will premiere its biggest, most lavish production to date next year. The Meridian Season will present “The Sleeping Beauty” which is one of the great works of the classical ballet repertoire.

Three years in the planning, the work is set to Tchaikovsky’s soaring music. The ballet tells the timeless story of young Princess Aurora who falls prey to the evil fairy Carabosse. Only a kiss from a handsome prince will break the spell and ensure her future happiness.

The work has been designed by Gary Harris, the former artistic director of the company, and choreographed by Greg Horsman working from the original choreography of Marius Petipa.

In an innovative move the company has commissioned New Zealand designer Karen Walker to create the costumes for a new work by New Zealand choreographer Cameron McMillan. The work, which has the working title, “Scenes de Ballet” will be part of the Stravinsky Triple Bill season. The other two works are the Russian classic “Petrouchka” and a return performance of Javier de Frutos’ “Milagros.”

Inspired by a rare piano recording of “The Rite of Spring,” choreographer Javier de Frutos created “Milagros” for the ballet company in 2003 and the work was nominated for best new dance production in the 2005 UK Laurence Olivier Awards.

“Petrouchka” uses the choreography of Michael Fokine in a work designed by Raymond Boyce based on the original design by Alexandre Benois.

The ballet which is set in a bustling Russian fairground tells the story of three puppets - Petrouchka, a sad little clown doll; the ballerina doll he so desperately loves; and the handsome Moor.

Petrouchka was one of the great ballets from Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and was originally performed by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky, and remains one of the most coveted roles for a male dancer.

The regular “Tower Tutus on Tour” which travels to 40 towns and cities throughout the country will features two new works, the whimsical “Pinocchio” and a sparkling classical showpiece, “Verdi Variations.”

Following the story originally written in 1883, “Pinocchio” tells the tale of the a wooden puppet who yearns to be a real boy, It is set to the music of Andre Messager, choreographed by Toby Behan and designed by Julian Southgate,
“Verdi Variations” which is choreographed by Greg Horsman and designed by Gary Harris uses the music of Verdi and is intended to pay homage to classical Russian ballet.

Another highlight of 2011 will be a July tour to London, Cardiff and France where the ballet company will present the triple bill “From Here to There” featuring three short ballets, including “A Song in the Dark” by young Kiwi choreographer Andrew Simmons, Jorma Elo’s “Plan to A” and Javier de Frutos’ “Banderillero.”

“There’s no doubt 2011 will be a huge year for the company,” general manager Amanda Skoog said. “We’re honoured and thrilled to be invited to perform in the City of London Festival in July, as well as in Cardiff and France.”

2011 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting years ever for the ballet company, she said. “We’ve are not only premiering four new works, we’ll also be under the wing of a new artistic director. While we are still in the final stages of making a selection, the candidates have been outstanding and I know we have some very exciting times ahead.”