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Several firsts for New Zealand School of Dance

Several firsts for New Zealand School of Dance GRADUATION SEASON 2015

A highlight of the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) calendar, the School’s anticipated Graduation Season 18-28 November 2015 is set once again to hit the stage. A long held tradition that marks the year end; these performances offer an intoxicating mix of classical ballet and contemporary choreography.

This season’s performances open with the Grand Pas from the 19th century ballet Paquita. The full length ballet is rarely performed now but the Grand Pas which literally means ‘big step’, is a later addition by Marius Petipa. One of the most well known ballets, it was first performed in St Petersburg, Russia in 1846. NZSD has been fortunate to have Anna-Marie Holmes, artistic director, master teacher and celebrated ballerina staging this work with the students. The costumes have been hand made especially for the dancers by costumier Donna Jefferis assisted by the students of the Diploma of Costume Construction at Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School.

Thomas Bradley, NZSD graduate, has created a new work cnoditions of entry. Thomas challenged the students to invest in a new dance vocabulary, pushing both students and the audience to take part in his intellectual choreography. The new work is also accompanied by music created by Thomas. Another graduate Sarah Foster-Sproull has returned to the school on her fourth commission working collaboratively with the students to create her work. Forgotten Things, performed by 24 dancers, explores the process of metamorphosis. Sarah explains “it embodies the performers as one cell with many identities”.

Among other highlights of this thrilling season will be George Balanchine’s Tarantella, a “gut-busting” interpretation of a Neopolitan folk dance. Diana White travelled from New York to work alongside tutor Qi Huan and NZSD students to bring alive this youthful and amusing ballet danced by two classical students. “With their impeccable training, enthusiasm, and work ethic, the students of NZSD have always been a pleasure to work with. Sharing the wonders and challenges of Balanchine’s choreography with these young dancers is a mutually rewarding experience” said Diana.

Audiences will also be treated to excerpts from “As It Fades” by renowned Singaporean choreographer and director of T.H.E Dance Company, Kuik Swee Boon. This will be the first time that one of his works will be presented in NZ. This homage to Asian traditions and their fading presence in modern life is an emotionally charged work. NZSD continues to grow strong links with Singapore with two students travelling in November to perform in the M1 Contact contemporary dance festival, and one of this year’s graduates securing a place with Singapore Dance Theatre.

Concluding this eclectic programme is Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s youthful and energetic ballet Concerto. Staged by Lynn Wallis and coached by Stephen Beagley with its cast of 18 women and 11 men,Concerto is the largest work ever presented by the School. Dmitri Shostakovich’s music for this work will be performed by two live pianists on stage.

Graduation Season is an opportunity to witness the high calibre of students at NZSD and the results of working with inspirational tutors from both NZ and internationally. These exhilarating performances are an insight into the next generation of professional dancers.

New Zealand School of Dance Graduation Season 2015
18-28 November at New Zealand School of Dance, Wellington


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