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RNZ Ballet: Tiki-touring tutus

Tiki-touring tutus

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s much-loved tiki-touring institution is on the road.

From Wainuiomata to Waipukurau, Westport to Whakatane, New Zealand Post Tutus on Tour takes ballet to 49 centres off the beaten track during February and March.

“Live and local, we’re presenting a selection of classical and contemporary dance, right on your doorstep. Diverse dance styles means there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” says Artistic Director Gary Harris.

“The line-up has a strong Kiwi accent,” he says.

“The company will showcase the talents of New Zealand choreographers Shona McCullagh and Turid Revfeim, local designer Elizabeth Whiting and composers Jonathan Besser and John Ritchie.”

Planning the tour is a performance in itself. From selling the show to local presenters, to confirming venue details and booking accommodation, the demanding itinerary is two years in the making.

“In order to tour the North Island and South Island simultaneously, the company of 32 dancers will be split down the middle. One group will tour the community theatres, school halls and basketball courts of the North Island, one the South,” says Harris.

Each contingent travels by bus and packs a five tonne truck with up to four costume changes for each dancer, hundreds of pointe shoes, 40 metres of ballet shoe ribbon, 120 metres of dance floor, 280 rolls of PVC tape, a washing machine and drier, a lighting rig, a sound system, and the all important kettle for afternoon tea.

Revfeim’s tango-inspired ballet Si Supieras opens the programme. Borrowing its title from an old tango, the work draws on the sensual elements of the dance.

Shona McCullagh brings her immense style and energy to Verge, a new work combining ballet and contemporary dance.

Fans of classical showpieces will relish the wedding pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty, and Christopher Hampson’s Esquisses, a sweetly subversive homage to 19th century tutu tradition. Hampson is best known for loosening ballet of its stiff corsets in his two major works for the company, Saltarello and Romeo and Juliet.

John Allen, Chief Executive of New Zealand Post says New Zealand Post is delighted to lend its name and support to ballet’s special rural delivery.

“New Zealand Post is a committed supporter of the arts and the community, and New Zealand Post Tutus on Tour gives us the opportunity to combine the two by helping the Ballet deliver its world class performance to heartland New Zealand,” he says.

The season opens at Wellington’s Westpac St James Theatre on 10 February and six weeks and 48 centres later, closes at Lower Hutt’s Little Theatre on 24 March.

Touring itinerary:

Akaroa: 22 February

Alexandra: 9 March

Ashburton: 25 February

Auckland, Botany Downs: 27 February

Auckland, Papakura: 1 March

Auckland, Takapuna: 25-26 February

Auckland, Titirangi: 24 February

Balclutha: 3 March

Blenheim: 15 March

Christchurch: 23-24 February

Dannevirke: 23 March

Dargaville: 2 March

Dunedin: 2 March

Gisborne: 17-18 March

Greymouth: 19 February

Hamilton: 22 February

Hawera: 18 February

Invercargill: 4-5 March

Kaikoura: 13 March

Kaitaia: 3 March

Kerikeri: 4 March

Lower Hutt: 24 March

Masterton: 22 March

Napier: 19 March

Nelson: 16-17 February

New Plymouth: 19 February

Oamaru: 27 February

Palmerston North: 20 March

Paraparaumu: 18-19 March

Putaruru: 11 March

Queenstown: 6 March

Rotorua: 13 March

Taihape: 16 February

Taupo: 12 March

Tauranga: 15 March

Te Kuiti: 20 February

Thames: 10 March

Timaru: 26 February

Twizel: 11 March

Upper Hutt: 23 March

Wainuiomata: 17 March

Waipukurau: 22 March

Wanaka: 10 March

Wanganui: 17 February

Wellington: 10-12 February

Wellsford: 9 March

Westport: 18 February

Whakatane: 16 March

Whangarei: 5-6 March

Note: The company divides into two groups, in order to tour the North Island and South Island at the same time. Dates are subject to change.

Creative team

Si Supieras

Choreography: Turid Revfeim

Music: Jonathan Besser

Design: Kate Venables

The Sleeping Beauty, Act III wedding pas de deux

Choreography: Marius Petipa

Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Choreography: Shona McCullagh

Music: Aquarius Suite No.2 for String Orchestra by John Ritchie

Design: Elizabeth Whiting


Choreography: Christopher Hampson

Music: Esquisses Op.63 by Charles-Valentin Alkan

Design: Gary Harris

All lighting: Jason Morphett

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