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America comes to the New Zealand School of Dance

A touch of America comes to the New Zealand School of Dance

Betsy Erickson, Ballet Mistress for San Francisco Ballet, is in New Zealand to teach students from the New Zealand School of Dance, Val Caniparoli's Street Songs for presentation within the November Graduation Season.

Born in Oakland, California, Betsy Erickson began her training with Winifred Gilmore in Orinda. She furthered her study with Raoul Pause and later continued her work with the San Francisco Ballet School on a Ford Foundation Scholarship; here, she studied with Lew and Harold Christensen and Anatole Vilzak. She entered San Francisco Ballet in 1964, dancing there for three years before joining American Ballet Theatre.

As a soloist with ABT from 1967 - 1972, Ms Erickson performed such roles as Myrtha in Giselle and Lizzie's mother in Agnes de Mille's Fall River Legend. She returned to San Francisco Ballet in 1972, there performing principal and soloist roles in works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Michael Smuin.

Following her retirement from dance performance in 1984, Ms Erickson joined Oakland Ballet as Ballet Mistress. In her seven-and-a-half year tenure in Oakland, she choreographed several works for the Company. These include Songs (1990), Sfumato (1986), Waterways (1982), Wild Echoes Flying (1995), and most recently, Beneath the Wake (1999).

In 1986, Ms Erickson was artistic director of the National Ballet of Colombia in Bogotá. Ms Erickson travelled to Hong Kong in 1990 to set Sfumato and Val Caniparoli's Connotations on the Hong Kong Ballet.

In 1992, Ms Erickson returned to San Francisco Ballet and was appointed Ballet Mistress. She is currently responsible for rehearsing and staging ballets from the San Francisco Ballet repertoire, including works by Lew Christensen, Helgi Tomasson, Val Caniparoli and Mark Morris.

A class taken by Ms Erickson and a rehearsal showing Val Caniparoli's work will be presented from 9.00am to 12.30pm on Friday 11 June. The media is invited to attend.

Betsy Erickson's visit to the New Zealand School of Dance has been made possible through the generosity of the Embassy of the United States of America, Qantas Airways Ltd and Village Apartments.

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