New Zealand dance troupe announces first tour

A recently launched New Zealand dance troupe will embark on its first ever tour this summer, taking in cities across the North Island.

The New Zealand Dance Company, which was established in 2011, will perform its mixed bill Language of Living in six venues, kicking off with a show at Auckland’s Aotea Centre on 25 May.

The production includes work from New Zealanders Michael Parmenter, Shona McCullagh, Sarah Foster-Sproull, Justin Haiu and Ashleigh Coward.

At the Auckland and Wellington shows, dancer Ursula Robb will also perform the company’s first international work, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Fame.

Haiu’s work Release your Robot will also be performed by the So You Think You Can Dance star, accompanied by Auckland trio The Electric Boutique.

McCullagh – who is also NZDC artistic director – has choreographed Trees, Birds then People. The New Zealand Herald said of the piece: ‘All McCullagh’s zany wit and wickedness leaps to life in Trees, Birds then People.’

McCullagh said: ‘We were thrilled by the audience and critics’ response to our launch and know Language of Living will appeal to a broad audience, whether aficionados or those new to dance. Our first tour is the next step in The New Zealand Dance Company’s commitment to sharing great New Zealand dance with as many people as possible.’

The company secured two-year funding from Creative New Zealand on the strength of its strategic and business plan, which was developed by founders Frances Turner and Shona McCullagh, in consultation with arts and business professionals.

NZDC also secured a three-year sponsorship deal with Westpac before the company’s launch. This led to other sponsorship support, including the development of the troupe’s brand in collaboration with Designworks. Other partnerships have been developed with trusts, local government and individual donors.

Speaking to IAM, McCullagh added: ‘Our goal is to achieve full-time status within three years of operation. There are still significant challenges as well as significant opportunities for a new arts company in Aotearoa, with international partnerships being just one of those.’

The company’s new general manager is Janelle McKenzie, who comes most recently from the Victorian Arts Centre.