Exciting Things Afoot at the Royal New Zealand Ballet
Artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet Wellington-based Ethan Stiefel is significantly raising the “well-respected” company’s profile. The former American Ballet Theater principal was about as famous as it is possible for a ballet dancer to be, having reached principal status at both New York City Ballet (in 1995) and Ballet Theater (in 1997).
His dedication to the New Zealand Ballet appears just as full-throttle. Since late 2011, he has spent almost all his time in his adopted home. Under Stiefel, the company is aiming to internationalise and update the repertory. Stiefel is keeping an eye out for local choreographers as well. This year, the New Zealander Daniel Belton will create a new work, “Satellites,” using kinetic sculpture and projections.
The company’s commitment to local audiences runs deep. In addition to frequent international tours, each year the troupe zigzags the islands for weeks at a time. Every two years, it splits into two groups and visits 50 locales.
Adjusting to life on the other side of the world has not been easy, Stiefel admitted, but it’s never dull, and the dancers are eager. “There is always that question of what is it like over there – am I missing something?” promising young dancer Lucy Green mused. “But exciting things are happening here.”
In late January, the company travelled to the United States for a four-city tour (Los Angeles; Santa Barbara, California; Minneapolis; New York), its first in 21 years.
Original article by Marina Harss, The New York Times, February 7, 2014.
Photo by Maarten Holl.