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Royal New Zealand Ballet receives standing ovations in US

The Royal New Zealand Ballet has received an enthusiastic response and several standing ovations from near-capacity crowds in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Minneapolis and New York.

This was the company’s first tour to the US in over 21 years, and with it they have won the hearts of American arts lovers. During the three week tour, the RNZB performed for more than 16,000 people, including sold-out shows in Santa Barbara and New York.

Leading American dance critics who attended opening night at the prestigious Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the LA Music Center were impressed by the company's performances of Giselle, the acclaimed 2012 production by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, in which American ballerina and RNZB Principal Guest Artist Gillian Murphy made her US debut as Giselle.

The renowned LA Times critic Lewis Segal told Radio New Zealand that the RNZB was "a beautifully trained company" and for the LA Times he wrote of the dancers’ "impressive skill and vibrancy".

Jean Lenihan from Orange County Register said ‘The technical demands were full throttle, and it was great to see how many New Zealand and Australian-raised dancers populated the company with beautiful lines and easy presence."

Of the lead roles danced by Gillian Murphy and Qi Huan, Jean Lenihan described them as a "beautifully synchronized pair" while Lewis Segal was impressed by Qi Huan who he said "soloed magnificently."

The RNZB closed the tour in New York [16 February] at The Joyce Theater (New York's home of contemporary dance). There Christchurch-born choreographer Andrews Simmons' work Of Days made its international debut, alongside Benjamin Millepied's 28 Variations on a Theme of Paganini and Javier de Frutos’ Banderillero.

New York Times reviewer Brian Seibert described the company thus: “I don’t know what these dancers looked like before Mr. Stiefel got his hands on them, but they’re spruce now, with pleasing manners and crisp classical technique.”

The dancers now will take a well-earned break before returning to New Zealand to start rehearsals for Coppélia which opens in Wellington on 17 April and tours nationally until 31 May.


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