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‘Small But Feisty’ Company Wins Over Critics

‘Small But Feisty’ Company Wins Over Critics

Media release
27 April 2004



The Royal New Zealand Ballet has been dubbed ‘small but feisty’ by the British press at the start of its six-week, six-centre UK tour of Romeo and Juliet.

The company has just completed its first leg in Manchester, hometown to Romeo and Juliet choreographer Christopher Hampson.

Jane Turner’s ‘winsome’ interpretation of Juliet, and Kiwi designer Tracy Grant’s ‘sleek staging’ were singled out by Times critic Donald Hutera. “The Royal New Zealand Ballet's current six-week tour is a reminder that culturally the country is capable of more than big-screen epics about ring-bearing Hobbits. Turner... proved to be a pliant dancer and subtly expressive actress. Hampson and Grant turned Shakespeare's tragedy into an involving, heartfelt chamber drama.”

Judith Mackrell, critic for The Guardian, agreed: “Hampson and his designer Tracy Grant have not only aimed for a modern look but also for a modern energy... The New Zealand dancers are terrifically engaging… with Wagner and Turner exemplifying the company's easy, attractive technique and Pieter Symonds outstanding as Lady Capulet, a woman silently screaming inside a dead marriage.”

The company’s strong debut augured well for the rest of the tour, wrote Robert Beale in The Manchester Evening Standard. “It was the first night of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's UK tour (it’s at Sadler's Wells next week), and Salford's warm reception should be an encouragement to a small but feisty troupe.”

The company had a demanding first week, said dancer Pieter Symonds: “Week one was spent struggling with jet lag, trying to put together two shows with very little rehearsal time, a body that did not want to cooperate after being cooped up on a plane for close to 30 hours. And there was the added bonus of a terrorist bomb threat in the vicinity. “Five shows later and it is hard to believe it all went off without a hitch. Lights, costumes, set and steps fell into place, and the positive response from the audiences hopefully meant they appreciated our kiwi flair.”

The company is touring Romeo and Juliet plus a triple bill programme of FrENZy, Saltarello and Milagros to London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, High Wycombe and Bath. The triple bill will receive its UK premiere at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London on 27 April (Wednesday morning, New Zealand-time). Visit for full tour details.


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