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Dazzling New Zealand Children’s Book To Become A Sparkling New Rnzb Production For Kids Of All Ages

Bringing a new kind of razzle-dazzle to the ballet world is a collaboration between award-winning New Zealand publishers Huia, 2024 Oceania winner of the Bologna Prize for the Best Children's Publisher of the Year, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB).

Celebrated children’s book writers Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan’s magnificent Dazzlehands, published in 2023 in English and te reo Māori, is being adapted into a new ballet which will premiere as part of the RNZB’s free school holiday performances at Te Papa this July.

The Cow says “moo”, the Chicken says “cluck” and the Pig says… “Dazzlehands!” As hard as the farmer tries, Pig won’t go “oink”. Instead, Pig gets all the animals moving to phrases like, “Cross hands, floss hands, work it like a boss hands. Bursting with the razzle, gotta liberate these dazzlehands.”

Choreographed by RNZB Principal Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson for six RNZB dancers, Dazzlehands’ creative team includes Costume Designer Victoria Gridley (Tāne and the Kiwi), Composer William Philipson (Shortland Street, One Lane Bridge, High Tide Don’t Hide), and Creative Director Lauren Byrne, who is also the RNZB’s Education and Community Engagement Manager.

Gareth Tiopara-Waaka will narrate both the English and te reo Māori shows, and there will be a Relaxed Performance and a performance with New Zealand Sign Language interpretation. Dazzlehands will be 40 minutes long and is appropriate for ages three and over.

The Spinoff described the book as “…a bold, funny, cool farmyard flip that is a riot to read aloud.” On turning this ingenious tale into a ballet, Guillemot-Rodgerson says, “I am thrilled to be adapting Dazzlehands into a moving and grooving ballet bash. The story dances off the pages; it feels like Sacha and Josh were choreographing a dance from the very beginning. I am so lucky to be able to work with this exceptionally talented creative team, and our amazing dancers, to bring tamariki on a journey into how fun ballet can be. The story of our Pig will take them on a rollercoaster ride of hilarity, movement and thrills. They will need to prepare to be DAZZLED in the best possible way.”

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2023 marked twenty years of RNZB Education, a year-round programme of events for schools, young dancers, ballet schools, and including prisons, which, since it began, has been experienced by hundreds of thousands of Kiwis of all ages. In the last ten years alone, RNZB Education has presented more than 4,000 in-person events, all free or low-cost, with more than 30,000 people now participating every year. Digital events have added hugely to this number, with more than 36,000 primary school children, through more than 400 teachers, accessing the Step Online digital dance resource in the first six months of 2022.

Dazzlehands, which is being created through generous support from the Fehl Charitable Trust, will play at Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 July, followed by a schools-only season at Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s Due Drop Events Centre on 19 and 20 September.

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