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As the curtain closes on a year that has changed the world forever, the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) has proudly announced its 2021 season with a stunning lineup that celebrates the past and boldly looks to the future.  

From February, the RNZB brings to theatres across Aotearoa hope, magic, emotion – and a little bit of mischief – created by some of the country’s, and the world’s, best-loved dance masterminds. 

Royal New Zealand Ballet Artistic Director Patricia Barker says, “The purpose of art is to enhance a person’s life, delivering perspective and emotion. To move us, help us feel compassion and to feed our souls. The world around us has changed, but our stories live on, and our need for connection, joy, sorrow, bliss and hope remain unchanged. Our 2021 season brings it all.”  

From 12 May to 9 June, the RNZB’s immensely popular production of Giselle, one of ballet’s timeless classics, returns. Stolen moments, secret passion, and innocence betrayed - former RNZB Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel and distinguished principal dancer, director and choreographer Johan Kobborg’s acclaimed production of Giselle first toured New Zealand in 2012 to sell-out audiences, returning in 2016 to great acclaim. Performed in China, the USA, the UK and Italy, and turned into a feature film by director Toa Fraser, the RNZB’s Giselle has captivated audiences and wowed critics. Orchestra Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra will accompany performances in these centres, with a recording by Orchestra Wellington accompanying shows in Dunedin, Napier and Palmerston North. 

July closes with a powerful new double bill: a new commissionfrom Choreographer-in-Residence Loughlan Prior of The Firebird, together with Russian classic Paquita.  

The Firebird, first staged in Paris in 1910, changed the direction of ballet. The spine-tingling grandeur of Stravinsky’s iconic score, combining sinuous melodies spiked with orientalism and shimmering orchestration, created an exotic fairy tale universe full of wild enchantment that was worlds away from the classics of Russian ballet. Prior, with designer Tracy Grant Lord, has reimagined The Firebird for a different time: one in which the natural world is threatened, and humanity is staring into the abyss of extinction. As we all now know, humanity can rise from the ashes and forge a new world.  

Paquita is a dazzling romp in which the dancers’ classical technique takes centre stage – sparkling tutus inspired by Russian master jeweller Fabergé, fleet footwork, soaring leaps, turns like spinning tops, and a finale which leaves the audience as breathless and exhilarated as the dancers themselves.  

From 28 October to 11 December, the Ryman Healthcare Season of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will transport audiences to a fantastical world of dazzling dance, music and enchantment. Lovers, fairies, mischievous sprites and moonlight conspire in Shakespeare’s classic tale. Created for the RNZB by one of the most sought-after choreographers on the international stage, Liam Scarlett, A Midsummer Night’s Dream was an overnight sensation at its premiere, with capacity audiences on its first New Zealand tour.  

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will perform Mendelssohn’s effervescent music live with the RNZB in Wellington and will tour with the company to accompany performances in Christchurch and Auckland, conducted by RNZB Principal Conductor Hamish McKeich. 

From 26 February to 11 March, the ever-popular Tutus on Tour, presented in association with Ryman Healthcare, is a chance for the RNZB to reconnect with ballet lovers all over Aotearoa. Picking up where the company left off when lockdown happened a year earlier, the dancers travel late at night and early in the morning to perform as far across the country as possible. There are16 stops in 2021; the largest number since Tutus on Tour was relaunched by the RNZB in 2017, and the production will once again bring some of New Zealand’s most beloved and historic theatres to life. 

The stunning mixed bill of work will deliver two familiar favourites in 2021 – the ‘White Swan’ pas de deux from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and Jules Perrot’s Pas de Quatre – alongside two brand new ballets – Andrea Schermoly’s Within Without and Sarah Foster-Sproull’s Ultra Folly, both of which were ready to be performed in 2020’s cancelled Venus Rising season and which the RNZB couldn’t bear to leave behind. 

There’s a glorious world of ballet to enjoy in 2021 as we embrace the future with open minds and hearts. That world is waiting for you.  

For further information, interviews and images, please contact Siobhan Waterhouse, Publicist, on or 022 126 4149. 

Royal New Zealand Ballet 2021 Season 

Tutus on Tour 

26 Feb to 16 March 2021 


Choreography / Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov 
Music / Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  


Choreography / Jules Perrot 
Music / Cesare Pugni  


Choreography / Andrea Schermoly 
Music / Hildur Guđnadóttir, Vivaldi, Chopin, Ólafur Arnolds 
Design / Patricia Barker 
Original lighting design / Nathan W. Scheuer 
Lighting realisation / Daniel Wilson 


Choreography / Sarah Foster-Sproull 
Music / Antonio de Cabezón, Andrea Falconieri and Anonymous 
Costume design / Donna Jefferis 
Lighting design / Daniel Wilson 

KAPITI  Te Raukura ki Kapiti – 26 & 27 February 
CARTERTON | Events Centre – 27 February 
NEW PLYMOUTH | TSB Showplace – 1 March 
WHANGANUI | The Royal Wanganui Opera House – 2 March 
HASTINGS | Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre – 2 March 
GISBORNE | War Memorial Theatre – 4 March 
NELSON | Theatre Royal – 5 & 6 March 
TAURANGA | Baycourt Community and Arts Centre – 6 March 
BLENHEIM | ASB Theatre, Marlborough – 9 March 
HAMILTON | Clarence Street Theatre – 9 & 10 March 
ASHBURTON | Ashburton Trust Events Centre – 11 March 
MANUKAU | Vodafone Manukau Events Centre – 11 March 
WHANGAREI | Capitaine Bougainville Theatre – 13 March 
OAMARU | Opera House – 13 March 
KERIKERI | Turner Centre – 16 March 
GORE | St James Theatre – 16 March 


12 May to 9 June 2021 

Production and choreography / Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, after Marius Petipa 
Music / Adolphe Adam 
Set design / Howard C Jones 
Lighting design / Kendall Smith 
Costume design / Natalia Stewart 
Conductor / Hamish McKeich  
Orchestras / Orchestra Wellington, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra 

WELLINGTON | Opera House – 12 – 15 May 
PALMERSTON NORTH | Regent on Broadway – 19 May 
NAPIER | Municipal Theatre – 22 – 23 May 
AUCKLAND | Aotea Centre – 27 – 29 May 
CHRISTCHURCH | Isaac Theatre Royal – 4 – 5 June 
DUNEDIN | Regent Theatre – 9 June 

The Firebird with Paquita 

29 July to 2 September 2021 


Choreography / Loughlan Prior 
Music / Igor Stravinsky 
Design / Tracy Grant Lord 
Lighting Design / Jon Buswell 
Animation/visuals / POW Studios 


Choreography / Marius Petipa 
Staging / Patricia Barker and Michael Auer 
Music / Ludwig Minkus and Edouard Deldevez 
Design / Patricia Barker 
Lighting Design / Jon Buswell 

WELLINGTON | Opera House – 29 – 31 July 
NAPIER | Municipal Theatre – 6 – 7 August 
AUCKLAND | Aotea Centre – 12 – 14 August  
DUNEDIN | Regent Theatre – 21 August 
CHRISTCHURCH | Isaac Theatre Royal – 26 – 28 September  
PALMERSTON NORTH | Regent on Broadway – 2 September 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

28 October to 11 December 2021 

Choreography / Liam Scarlett  
Music / Felix Mendelssohn 
Music arrangement / Nigel Gaynor  
Design / Tracy Grant Lord 
Lighting Design / Kendall Smith  
Conductor / Hamish McKeich 

WELLINGTON | Opera House – 28 October – 31 October 
NAPIER | Municipal Theatre – 5 – 6 November  
PALMERSTON NORTH | Regent on Broadway – 11 November 
CHRISTCHURCH | Isaac Theatre Royal – 18 – 20 November  
INVERCARGILL | Civic Theatre – 24 November  
DUNEDIN | Regent Theatre – 27 November  
AUCKLAND CITY | Aotea Centre – 2 – 5 December  
AUCKLAND TAKAPUNA | Bruce Mason Centre – 10 – 11 December 

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. Based in Wellington, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s national heritage, and has one of the largest followings of all New Zealand performing arts companies. The Royal New Zealand Ballet continues to invest in live music, performing wherever possible 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. The company has an enviable track record in commissioning new works from New Zealand and international choreographers.  


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