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Razor-sharp dance by the RNZB

Energy and rhythm are just some of the hallmarks of young Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s acclaimed dance works to be presented by the RNZB this May and June.

“…Witty and sophisticated…” is how the New York Times described his Tuplet.   The Daily Telegraph said the “sheer speed” of his Episode 31 “was thrilling”.

In 2016 the Royal New Zealand Ballet premiered Ekman’s Cacti as part of their smash-hit Speed of Light tour which featured in the Auckland Arts Festival and the New Zealand Festival.   Cacti quickly became an audience favourite with a New Zealand critic hailing its “cheeky effervescence, irrepressible energy and beguiling wit.”

Now, the national ballet company of 36 dancers will perform three of his dance works in one night and tour to five New Zealand centres from 17 May – 15 June.

Three by Ekman performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, photo by Ross Brown.

Francesco Ventriglia, the RNZB’s Artistic Director, says: We’re bringing Cacti back with two additional acclaimed works.  It’s the first time these three works have ever been performed together.  It’s a great chance to get to know Alexander Ekman better. He never disappoints and is quite simply a genius.”

“This is contemporary ballet at its very best with the most dynamic lighting and stylish staging.  But above all, Alex knows how to entertain.  Three by Ekman really will be a great night out” says Francesco.

Tuplet, created for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and premiered at The Joyce Theater, New York, in 2012, is for just six dancers and is the most intimate of the three works, riffing off the split-second precision of contemporary ballet dancers at the top of their game.

Episode 31, made for the Senior Graduation Class at The Juilliard School and premiered in New York in 2011, is larger in scale, a torrent of youthful vigour harnessing the energy of New York City.

Cacti (2010) brings it all together, combining hilarious insights into the dancers’ innermost thoughts with a mesmerising musicality. Once again, the RNZB will be joined by the New Zealand String Quartet onstage for all performances.

Three by Ekman performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet 

17 May – 15 June touring to Wellington, Auckland, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin.

Wellington St James Theatre:  Wed 17 – Thurs 18 May 7.30pm, Fri 19 May 7.30pm (free Pre-performance Talk 6.30pm), Sat 20 May 1.30pm (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm)

Auckland ASB Waterfront Theatre: Wed 24 – Thur 25 May 7.30pm, Fri 26 May 7.30pm (free Pre-performance Talk 6.30pm), Sat 27 May 1.30pm (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm), Sun 28 May 4pm, Tues 30 May – Thur 1 June 7.30pm

Napier Napier Municipal Theatre: Sun 4 Jun 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm)

Christchurch Isaac Theatre Royal: Fri 9 Jun 7.30pm (free Pre-performance Talk 6.30pm), Sat 10 June 1.30pm (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm)

Dunedin Regent Theatre: Wed 14 June 7.30pm, Thur 15 Jun 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm)

Three by Ekman

  • Tuplet Video and set design – Alexander Ekman, Costume design – Nancy Haeyung Bae, Lighting design - Amith Chandrashaker, Music -  Mikael Karlsson (with additions from Bart Howard’s ‘Fly me to the moon’, performed by Victor Feldman on his album Jazz at Ronnie Scott’s)
  • Episode 31 Video and set design – Alexander Ekman, Costume design – Luke Simcock, lighting design Nicole Pearce, Music -  Mikael Karlsson (with interpolations from Erik Satie Gymnopédie No. 1 and Ane Brune ‘Do You Remember’)
  • Cacti Set and costume design - Alexander Ekman,  Lighting and co-set design, technical supervision - Tom Visser, Music - Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, performed by the New Zealand String Quartet, Text written and spoken by Spenser Theberge

For booking info see

Next season:

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Romeo & Juliet

16 August – 24 September, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Rotorua, Dunedin, Invercargill, Palmerston North, Napier

Artistic Director and choreographer Francesco Ventriglia creates a new version of the world’s greatest love story and the company’s first new production of Romeo and Juliet since 2003. Inspired by Franco Zeffirelli’s classic 1968 film, this will be a hot-blooded, passionate re-telling of Shakespeare’s play that is sure to resonate with lovers of dance, drama and pure romance.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) was founded in 1953 by Danish dancer Poul Gnatt, as a touring professional ballet company for all New Zealanders. Now based at Wellington’s St James Theatre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s national heritage, and has the largest following of all New Zealand performing arts companies. The Royal New Zealand Ballet continues to invest in live music, performing with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.  The RNZB enjoys a reputation for strong and unique interpretations of full-length dramatic works. To this base the RNZB have been added many masterworks and major ballets of the 20th century, such as Balanchine's works and the Stravinsky ballets. The company has an enviable track record in commissioning new works from New Zealand and international choreographers. The RNZB regularly represents New Zealand on the international stage, with recent tours to the UK, Australia, China, USA and Italy and Hong Kong.


Updated on 13th June 2017