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Dance, Drama Schools Will Use Funds for Excellence

Dance & Drama Schools Will Invest Funding Boost in Ensuring Excellence

Media release by Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre
encompassing Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and the New Zealand School of Dance

The $1.8million funding increase for Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and the New Zealand School of Dance announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark today will be invested by the Schools in ensuring the standard of teaching remains at the highest international levels.

“This injection of funding recognises the Schools as the national providers of dance and drama training and is an investment in our high standard of excellence, which has been tough to maintain under static funding,” said Garry Trinder, Director of the New Zealand School of Dance.

“This is welcome news for the creative arts sector,” said Annie Ruth, Director of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. “With this increase we can secure the very best in international practitioners to tutor at our Schools, ensuring our students can compete and realise their potential at international level.”

Nearly 200 drama & dance students are taught to excel at Te Whaea every year. The list of graduates from each school reads like a who’s who of the performing arts industry.

The funding provided by the Government will secure the Schools’ futures for the next four years. It will also allow both institutions to raise staff salaries closer to parity with other tertiary providers and ensure high quality dance and drama performances for the Wellington community.

“Having our ongoing funding secured is a weight off everyone’s minds,” said Annie Ruth. “As the national provider of stage and screen training this infusion of money will ensure Toi Whakaari keeps the flow between our staff and students and industry practitioners. Doing that means we can continue to provide fuel for the entertainment industry in this country that is doing such great things for tourism and foreign investment.”

“For the School of Dance this money will give us greater consistency of pastoral care for our students, many of whom are under 18,” said Garry Trinder. “It will allow us to expand our regional development programme for younger dancers.”


Background to New Zealand School of Dance
The New Zealand School of Dance is one of the southern hemisphere’s leading tertiary dance institutions and is New Zealand’s foremost training establishment for contemporary and classical dancers. It trains students to excel both nationally and internationally by equipping them with skills that meet the needs and increasing choreographic demands of young dance professionals shaping the 21st century.

The School has approximately sixty students undertaking full time study at any one time. It offers students from all over the world the chance to study for a two-year National Certificate in Dance Performance or a three-year National Diploma in Dance Performance. Both courses are NZQA accredited. A Junior Associate programme nurtures young talent in readiness for full time study.

The New Zealand School of Dance was established in 1967 and since then the School has gone from strength to strength. The School’s aim is for its graduates to enter The Royal New Zealand Ballet, one of the country’s foremost contemporary dance companies or a major international company. 100% of 2002 graduates are employed in the industry.

Graduates from the New Zealand School of Dance are currently employed in the Royal Danish Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, Australian Ballet, Salzburg Dance Company and the National Theatre Ballet of Prague as well as in the Royal NZ Ballet, Black Grace, Footnote and other NZ based contemporary dance groups. Famous graduates include Mary Jane O’Reilly, Shona McCullagh, Raewyn Hill and Martin James.

“It is my first port of call when recruiting for the Company, and at present about a third of our dancers have trained there. On behalf of The Royal New Zealand Ballet I want to acknowledge the School’s commitment to fostering the future of New Zealand dance.” Gary Harris, Artistic Director, Royal New Zealand Ballet

“It is a pleasure to create, teach and learn in the New Zealand School of Dance’s unique cultural environment. Students are encouraged to achieve personal and professional goals in a positive atmosphere of mutual respect.” Leigh Warren, Artistic Director, Leigh Warren & Dancers

“These are the most disciplined and dedicated students I have possibly ever had the pleasure to teach. Throughout my two weeks at The New Zealand School of Dance I witnessed a consistent standard of technical excellence.” Martin James, Principal Dancer & Ballet Master, Royal Danish Ballet (Graduate 1980)

Background to Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School
Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School is New Zealand’s foremost training establishment for the dramatic arts. Toi Whakaari’s vision is to lead in the training of actors, directors, technicians and designers in performing arts - nationally and internationally. In particular Toi Whakaari’s aim is to ignite the creativity in each student and provide them with the skills of their craft to effectively tell the stories of Aotearoa and beyond.

Toi Whakaari offers students the chance to study for a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Entertainment Technology), the NZ and Advanced Diplomas in Entertainment Technology, the Bachelor of Performance Design and Graduate Diploma in Performance Design, a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Acting) and the Master of Theatre Arts in Directing. The Master in Theatre Arts is taught jointly with Victoria University of Wellington and the Bachelor of Performance Design is taught jointly with Massey University. On average the school now caters for upwards of 120 pupils annually, who study for up to four years each.

Toi Whakaari was established in 1970 by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council and is still the premiere training ground for entertainment professionals in New Zealand. To date more than 450 graduates have gone on to successful careers in theatre, television, film, radio and events, both here in New Zealand and all over the world. Of these around 75% of the acting graduates, 90% of the technical production graduates and 95% of the directing graduates are still employed in the industry.

Graduates from Toi Whakaari are working in Hollywood, the West End and Broadway as well as in television, film and theatre in New Zealand. Famous names include Cliff Curtis (WhaleRider, Three Kings, Blow), Kerry Fox (Intimacy, Angel at my Table), Robyn Malcolm, Rawiri Paratene, Jacob Rajan and most of the core cast of The Insider’s Guide to Happiness. Several of Toi Whakaari’s technical and production graduates have Academy Awards and Toi Whakaari’s performance design and entertainment technology courses are on the leading edge of training for future technical and design leaders.

“In making Whale Rider I worked with three graduates. Each was truly gifted and utterly individual. Toi Whakaari, in recognising and supporting their talent, has given this country (and the wider world) something very special indeed.” Nikki Caro, Director, Whale Rider

“… the standard of training provided is equipping graduates with the necessary practical skills to set them on their way in the industry. This is why The Edge looks to recruit graduates from Toi Whakaari.” Jonathan Bielsky, Theatre Operations Manager, The Edge

“(At Toi Whakaari) I was blessed with a fantastic mix of tutors and students, friends and adversaries. It was as difficult as it was inspiring and it was this team of people that helped forge a perspective that is unique to me and makes me valuable. I did this long before I ever worked on a movie or went to Hollywood.” - Cliff Curtis, Te Arawa/Ngati Hauiti, Acting Graduate 1989, Three Kings, Blow, Whale Rider

Coming to Te Whaea shortly:
The Seagull 9 - 13 August - The second year class of actors is split into two groups - one group will perform Chekhov's first play - a comedy with three female parts, six male parts, a landscape, much talk about literature, and five tons of love.

Small Lives, Big Dreams 9 - 13 August - The second year class of actors is split into two groups - one group will perform Anne Bogart's look at all Chekhov's canon. Small Lives Big Dreams is a play about memory that examines how characters in Chekhov's plays are haunted by the past while attempting to look forward.

Go Solo 19-27 August (Wellington) 31 August - 3 September (Auckland) - The “Go Solo” season of Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School monologues spans the whole range of New Zealand society, from Lt Col Arapeta Awatere to the story of an international model; from what it was like to fight in the Korean War, to the tale of the Ingham Twins. Three separate shows with five performances in each.

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