Douglas Wright (dancer)

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Douglas Wright
Born 1956 (age 60–61)
Tuakau, South Auckland
Occupation Dancer, choreographer, poet
Years active 1980–2008
Former groups Limbs Dance Company, Paul Taylor Company, Douglas Wright Dance Company

Douglas James Wright MNZM (born 1956) is a New Zealand dancer and choreographer in the New Zealand arts establishment from 1980.[1] Although he announced his retirement from dance in 2008, on the occasion of the publication of his first book of poetry, Laughing Mirror he subsequently continued to make dance works, most recently premiering and touring The Kiss Inside during April 2015.[2]


Wright was born in Tuakau, South Auckland in 1956. From 1980 – 1983 he danced with Limbs Dance Company and choreographed a number of works on the company before travelling to New York where he danced with the Paul Taylor Company, 1983–1987 and London with DV8 Physical Theatre, 1988. Returning to New Zealand in 1989, he formed the Douglas Wright Dance Company, with which he created more than 30 major works, touring New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

In the 1998 Queen's Birthday Honours, Wright was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to dance.[3]

In 2000 Wright received one of five inaugural Arts Laureate awards from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and in 2003 he was the subject of an award-winning feature-length documentary film, Haunting Douglas, directed by Leanne Pooley for Spacific Films.

He has written two volumes of semi-fiction/semi-autobiography, Ghost Dance (Penguin, 2004 – Montana Awards Best First Book of Non-Fiction, 2004) and Terra Incognito (2006), also hosted an inaugural one-man exhibition of his paintings and multimedia sculptures,.[4] In October 2007 a poetry collection, Laughing Mirror was published by Steele Roberts. A second collection of his poems, cactusfear was published by Steele Roberts in October 2011, and a retrospective exhibition of his work as a choreographer, based on photographs, films and writing, was held at The University of Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery in 2012.

With the launch of Laughing Mirror, Wright announced his retirement from dance. Subsequently, however, during 2010 he workshopped material towards a new major group work commissioned for Auckland Festival 2011, which premiered on 16 March 2011 at The Civic Theatre as rapt, and at the Hague, in the Netherlands during 2013. During 2014 and 2015, he workshopped and developed material towards The Kiss Inside a further major group work commissioned for the New Zealand Festival, which premiered on 16 April 2015 at Sky City Theatre, Auckland before touring to Wanaka, Dunedin and Nelson, with North Island touring to follow during March 2016.

Choreographic Works[edit]

  • 1981Back Street Primary (poetry, J Frame; mus. Talking Heads), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1982Late Afternoon of a Faun or Thrilled to Bits (solo, after Nijinsky; mus. Debussy), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1982Baby Go Boom (mus. Holiday. Armstrong, Farnell), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1982Kneedance (mus. Anderson), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1982Walking on Thin Ice (mus. Ono), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1982Aurora Borealis (mus. Ono, Anderson, Hagen), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1983Land of a Thousand Dances (mus. Small, Pickett), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1983Sorry to have Missed You (mus. Tartini), Royal New Zealand Ballet, New Moves, Wellington
  • 1983Ranterstantrum (mus. Branca), Limbs Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1983Dog Dance (solo; mus. Cage), Douglas Wright, New York
  • 1984Threnody (solo; mus. Penderecki), Douglas Wright, Auckland
  • 1984It's Not Unusual (mus. Tom Jones), Douglas Wright and Brian Carbee, Auckland
  • 1984Cubist Cowboy Shootout (with Brian Carbee; mus. various), Auckland
  • 1985Halcyon (mus. Vivaldi), Limbs Dance Company, Whangarei
  • 1986Parallel (mus. Busby), for two gymnasts, New York
  • 1987Hey Paris (mus. Ayler, Hirt, Nancarrow), Douglas Wright and Dancers, New York
  • 1987Quartet (mus. Vivaldi), Douglas Wright and Dancers, New York
  • 1987Faun Variations (solo; mus. Ravel), Paul Taylor Company, City Centre, New York
  • 1988Now is the Hour (mus. McGlashan and various), Limbs Dance Company, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, Wellington
  • 1988Aria (solo, text Dostoevsky), MJ O'Reilly, Auckland
  • 1989How on Earth (mus. various), Douglas Wright Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1989a far Cry (mus. Bartok), Australian Dance Theatre, Adelaide
  • 1990Passion Play: A New Dance (with Kilda Northcott), Wellington
  • 1990Gloria (mus. Vivaldi), Douglas Wright Dance Company, Wellington
  • 1990I Am A Dancer/Gloria (documentary film/dance, dir. Bollinger/ Oomen), Top Shelf Productions, TV1 national television broadcast, Sunday Arts
  • 1991As It Is (mus. Bartok, Laird), Douglas Wright Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1992Beethoven (mus. Beethoven and the Shangri-Las), graduating students of the Performing Arts School, Auckland
  • 1992The Decay of Lying (text, Wilde; mus. Lully), The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Wellington
  • 1992Elegy for Jim, Leigh and Bayly (solo, mus. Wilson), Artzaid Benefit, Wellington
  • 1993Forever (mus. various; film Graves; design Pearce), Douglas Wright Dance Company, Auckland
  • 1993Elegy for Jim, Leigh and Bayly (dance film; dir. Graves), New Zealand International Film Festival, Wellington
  • 1994As It Is – A Fragment (for television broadcast, dir. Graves mus. Bartok, Laird), Dance and the Camera, Television New Zealand, national broadcast, TV1 Work of Art
  • 1995 Forever (dance film co-directed with Chris Graves), TV1 national television broadcast, Work of Art
  • 1996Ore (solo), Next Wave Festival, Auckland
  • 1996Ore (dance film; co-directed with Chris Graves), International Film Festival, Wellington
  • 1996Buried Venus (mus. Farr and various; design, Pearce), Douglas Wright Dance Company, New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, Wellington
  • 1996Aida (directed by Wright), Victorian State Opera, Melbourne
  • 1997Forbidden Memories (a work for theatre based on a novel by James Purdy with design by John Verryt), Auckland
  • 1997Cunning Little Vixen (directed by Wright), Opera Australia, Sydney
  • 1997Rose and Fell (mus. Part, Gubaidulina, Mussorgsky), The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Wellington
  • 2002Inland New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, Wellington and national tour (mus Juliet Palmer, video Florian Habicht, costumes Tanya Carlson, text Douglas Wright and Peta Rutter, design John Verryt )
  • 2006Black Milk (mus. David Long, design and costumes Michael Pearce, lighting Robert Ghesquiere, text and banners Douglas Wright )
  • 2007Tama ma duet commissioned by Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal as the second of five sections comprising a larger work of the same name which premiered in the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall, October 2008, subsequently toured New Zealand, and began international touring commitments in 2010.
  • 2007 – a small dance for the children's theatre work Rumplestiltskin (Phineas Phrog Productions)
  • 2007 – He then choreographed a dance especially for his niece Sarah
  • 2011rapt – commissioned by Auckland Festival
  • 2015The Kiss Inside – commissioned by the New Zealand Festival


  1. ^ Eggleton, David (27 March 2004). "Still Life with Douglas". New Zealand Listener. Archived from the original on 4 December 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Kiss Inside". Theatreview online archive. 
  3. ^ Queen's Birthday Honours List 1998. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  4. ^ "Douglas Wright Art". Online gallery of Douglas Wright art works. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. 
  • Elleray, Michelle (1993). Barbarous gestures: voicing the visual in a far Cry Unpublished monograph
  • McNaughton, Howard (1998). Performing on the Faultlines: Douglas Wright's Forever in Helen Gilbert (ed) (Post)Colonial Stages: Critical and Creative Views on Drama, Theatre and Performance in Colonised Cultures. Hebden Bridge, U.K, Dangaroo Press.
  • Whyte, Raewyn (1994). Dance Works of 1993: A Review Article Illusions: NZ Moving Image and Performing Arts Criticism. #23 Winter 1994: 28–35
  • Whyte, Raewyn (1996). Buried Venus: An Interview with Douglas Wright. Landfall: New Zealand Arts & Letters #191 Autumn 1996:37–49
  • Whyte, Raewyn Chronology of Douglas Wright Choreographic Works [archived doc, continuously maintained]
  • Wilcox, Leonard (2006) Dancing Dissent: Douglas Wright’s Black Milk Landfall: New Zealand Arts & Letters #212, Spring, 2006:145–151.