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Royal New Zealand Ballet announces 2016 line-up

2016 sees Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia reveal his first full season for the national ballet company. The exciting line-up includes a festival programme of larger-than-life contemporary works that have never been seen in NZ, the world premiere of a new full length ballet of The Wizard of Oz, and the return of an acclaimed classic.

“I’m very happy to have this opportunity to share with you my first season - an expression of what I believe is vital in this world: balancing tradition with innovation. To have major classical repertoire in the same programme as amazing works by choreographers such as William Forsythe who changed ballet forever, is the embodiment of that. It’s a special occasion for NZ audiences and enables me to continue to grow our talented dancers”, he says.

Speed of Light ; photo by Rahi Rezvani.

For the first time in 12 years the RNZB will be part of the New Zealand Festival with an explosive mixed bill of three brilliant dance works by some of the world’s most important contemporary choreographers. Speed of Light will include: Alexander Ekman’s Cacti which has taken the world by storm since its premiere in 2010 and will feature the New Zealand String Quartet; the legendary William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated – a great work originally commissioned by Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris Opera Ballet; and one of Europe’s most dynamic choreographers Andonis Foniadakis’s Selon désir. Speed of Light will also be part of the opening week of the Auckland Arts Festival, followed by performances in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Image of the Wizard of Oz - Emerald City is courtesy of the RNZB.

The RNZB is delighted to premiere The Wizard of Oz created by RNZB Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia.  This stunning new production was originally created for Maggio Danza in Florence, however due to an accident of fate the production never opened. Six years later, and with some finishing touches, this much loved tale, set to music by Francis Poulenc with magical sets and costumes by Italian designer Gianluca Falaschi will have its world premiere in Wellington.  The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Wizard of Oz will tour to nine centres around New Zealand including Blenheim’s new ASB Theatre – an enchanting winter treat for the whole family.

Giselle performance featuring Shane Urton and Lucy Green ; photo by Ross Brown.

Four years since its creation and subsequent international tours (China, USA, and UK and Italy in Oct/Nov this year), former Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel’s acclaimed Giselle returns to grace New Zealand stages.  The hauntingly beautiful ballet which was also turned into a feature film by Toa Fraser has become one the RNZB’s signature works.   This return season enables NZ audiences to once again marvel at the exceptional artistry involved in the retelling one of classical ballet’s great stories. 

The year will end with a tour to Asia of Liam Scarlett’s acclaimed ballet A Midsummer Night’s Dream which premiered in NZ in August this year and wowed audiences and critics and audiences alike.

Speed of Light

26 February – 16 March 2016

Touring to Wellington (part of NZ Festival), Auckland (part of Auckland Arts Festival), Christchurch, Dunedin.

  • Selon désir: Choreography & design: Andonis Foniadakis, Composition & sound design: Julien Tarride with music by JS Bach.
  • In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated: Choreography & design: William Forsythe, Music: Thom Willems, in collaboration with Les Stuck, Staging Thierry Guiderdoni, Technical supervisor: Tanja Rhül
  • Cacti: Choreography & set & costume design: Alexander Ekman, Lighting & co-set design: Tom Visser, Music: Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, performed by the New Zealand New Zealand String Quartet.

The Wizard of Oz

4 May – 12 June 2016

Touring to Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua, Auckland, Palmerston North, Napier.

Choreography: Francesco Ventriglia, Design: Gianluca Falaschi, Music: Francis Poulenc


11 August – 9 September 2016

Touring to Wellington, Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North

Choreography: Ethan Stiefel & Johan Kobborg (after Marius Petipa), Costume design: Natalia Stewart, Scenic Design: Howard C Jones, Lighting Design; Kendall Smith, Music: Adolphe Adam performed by Orchestra Wellington in Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony in Christchurch, the Southern Sinfonia in Dunedin and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in Auckland.

On sale dates for 2016 shows:

Renewing subscribers 21 October; New subscribers 28 October; Public 4 November 2015.

For booking info see

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 Southern Sinfonia.  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 and the USA.


Updated on 20th November 2015