Royal New Zealand Ballet

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This article is about dancers with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. For Joseph Skeldon the engraver, see Chapel House, Twickenham.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is based in Wellington, New Zealand. The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) is a company of 32 dynamic dancers, performing an eclectic repertoire of outstanding dance, for national and international audiences, whilst continuing to build a style that is ultimately unique to the Company and Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The demands of the RNZB's audience, particularly within New Zealand, mean that they present an eclectic repertoire of choreographic styles, from 19th century classics to 21st century contemporary works. The RNZB's aim is to present dance of outstanding quality.

The RNZB attracts New Zealand and international dancers, choreographers and designers who nurture and grow a company of international acclaim.

The RNZB have a unique reputation, and are internationally acknowledged for pushing the boundaries, stretching the limits, and taking the art of classical ballet forward.

In 2010 the Royal New Zealand Ballet was the featured ballet company in the TV3 series The Secret Lives of Dancers. In 2011, Ethan Stiefel became Artistic Director.


New Zealand Ballet was established in 1953 as an independent charitable trust by Royal Danish Ballet Principal Poul Gnatt, Beryl Nettleton, Bettina Edwards,[1] another female dancer, and pianist Dorothea Franchi.

In the late 1950s notable New Zealand dancers, Rowena Jackson and Philip Chatfield, her English dancer husband, returned from overseas to join the company. A third returning dancer, Russell Kerr, who had been since 1950 dancing in Europe with the Jose Greco Company, Sadlers Wells Ballet and Ballet Rambert, and from 1952–57 with London Festival Ballet as their principal character dancer. In 1959 Kerr joined forces with NZ Ballet director Poul Gnatt, bringing with him a number of dancers from his own company, Auckland Ballet Theatre for the 1959–60 season. As United Ballet, the augmented company presented a ground-breaking season which prefigured the things to come – included amongst the classical works was a major contemporary work, "Prismatic Variations, a collaborative piece between Gnatt and Kerr, with guest artists the celebrated New Zealand dancers Rowena Jackson and Sara Neil.

In 1962 Jon Trimmer returned to the company after studying at the Royal Ballet School in London and performing with the Sadlers Wells Company. He remains a leading artist with the company in 2007 performing many character roles over the last 20 years. Russell Kerr succeeded Gnatt as company director from 1962–69.

In the 1960s and 70s the company survived by touring extensively throughout the country and has been directly funded by the New Zealand government since 1998.

In 1984 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of New Zealand granted the title Royal to the company making it the fourth ballet company to receive this honour, along with The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

In 2006 the company had 32 dancers, and performed nationally and overseas.[2]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gnatt, Poul (1923 - 1995)". Australia Dancing. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "Agencies we fund | Ministry for Culture and Heritage". 17 November 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Cupcakes & Conversation with Abi Boyle. Ballet NEWS, Wednesday, 27 April 2011

External links[edit]