Ballet company impresses UK audiences

Antonia Hewitt and Brendan Bradshaw

The Royal New Zealand Ballet‘s recent European tour tour has received unprecedented critical acclaim with rave reviews about the company as well as some of the individual dancers.

Andrew Simmons was singled out by The Arts Desk which is one of the leading arts review websites saying, “All ballet companies dream of finding a genuine creative talent among their ranks, and the Royal New Zealand ballet, visiting from the farthest end of the world ballet map, have one in Andrew Simmons. The unknown name on their triple bill on this rare visit to London shows a young mind drawn naturally to grace and understated expressiveness.”

Known for being notoriously tough, UK critics praised the RNZB’s performances of the triple bill From Here to There with the Evening Standard writing that

“The Royal New Zealand ballet is a textbook case of how a small company can defy the definitions that size usually brings.” While The Telegraph said “These New Zealanders are more than capable of hot-blooded abandon.”

The RNZB performed seven shows to packed audiences in Cardiff, London, Nottingham, Bradford and Sisteron during the two week tour.

Audiences and reviewers alike particularly embraced the opportunity to see former RNZB dancer Andrew Simmons present his piece A Song in the Dark.

Critics also commended the eclectic choice of repertoire and the strength of the dancers. Many noted that when Ethan Stiefel takes over as Artistic Director in September he will find “a polished and versatile company.” (The Sunday Times)

“The company is riding an all-time high, the tour was an absolute triumph,” General Manager Amanda Skoog said. “To receive rave reviews from every broadsheet newspaper in London, standing ovations in packed theatres (especially the Barbican) and fabulous feedback from our fans via social media is thrilling.”

There was a strong interest from local media and the RNZB featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles, including a two page preview feature on the company in The Guardian written by matriarch dance reviewer Judith Mackrell who wrote “The company look wide awake, sexy and charged”

“Judith is the most revered of dance critics and her interest in the RNZB and New Zealand in general is extraordinarily valuable. This is our version of a Rugby World Cup win”, says Skoog.

The company next production will be The Meridian Season of The Sleeping Beauty which opens in Wellington on 28th of October.

The FROM HERE TO THERE tour consisted of three works;

Plan to A, was choreographed by Jorma Elo, the 2010 winner of the prestigious Benois de la Danse prize for best choreography. Influenced by his experience of working with some of the world’s most respected and ground-breaking choreographers, it will be the first time one of Elo’s major works has been performed in the UK.

A Song in the Dark was choreographed by New Zealand’s own Andrew Simmons, a former RNZB company member and up-and-coming choreographer who is now based in Europe. Set to the music of Philip Glass, it is inspired by themes of love and missed opportunities.

Banderillero was choreographed and designed by Javier De Frutos. Banderillero is the follow-up to the Olivier Award-nominated and Critic’s Circle Dance Award-winning Milagros (2004) and takes its name from the bullfighter that teases the bull.

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3 Comments & Questions

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Am not really into ballet but reading this makes me very proud of them. Am sure they must have to give blood sweat and tears to get where they are at - an extremely large well done to you all! As a black blooded kiwi male I never thought I would hear myself say this but I think I will look to buy some tickets when performing in Wellington next.

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Fantastic John - so good to get some coverage about the tour - well done you for putting this together. Hope it is read far and wide, but especially by the people who do the funding. Meridian have made a big mistake pulling the plug on their sponsorship of such a fantastic product. With reviews like this they are sure to I bring on some new support. Don't know where Meridian are taking their dollars - please don't let it be sport!

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congratulations RNZB - we should all be very proud of our other fantastic physically (and artistically) charged kiwis.

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