The Royal New Zealand Ballet has appointed American dancer Ethan Stiefel, 37, as artistic director of the company. Stiefel, who assumes the role in 211, will be taking over from London-born Gary Harris, who started his tenure in 21. The Royal New Zealand Ballet is based in Wellington and is the foremost ballet company in the country. Founded in 1953, it consists of 32 dancers who have performed in engagements around the world. One of the more colourful personalities in the ballet world, Stiefel is known for his love of motorcycles and has appeared in dance-themed movies including Center Stage.