The Royal New Zealand Ballet announces new Chair, a retirement & a major award
The Royal New Zealand Ballet today announced that Dame Kerry Prendergast DNZM, CNZM, will join the Board of the national ballet company and will take over as Chair in January 2020, replacing Steven Fyfe, who will retire from the Board in December 2019 after completing seven years as a Trustee and Chair since 2017.
Dame Kerry has enjoyed a distinguished career in local government and governance. She is a former Mayor of Wellington, Executive Chair of the New Zealand Festival and Vice-President of Local Government New Zealand. Currently Chair of the New Zealand Film Commission, she is also a Director of Oceania Healthcare and Deputy Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, and a Trustee of the Wellington International Arts Foundation, the New Zealand Community Trust, the Wellington Free Ambulance and the Victoria Foundation. She is also an Advisory Board member of the Phoenix Football Club.
‘The Trustees are delighted that Dame Kerry is to be the new Chair of the RNZB Board’ says Steven Fyfe. ‘Kerry has made an outstanding contribution to both the arts and governance and brings those skills and a passion for ensuring the arts thrive in New Zealand to this new role. The RNZB has an exciting future with many opportunities to evaluate and progress, including our eagerly awaited return to our home at the St James Theatre in Wellington’.
Dame Kerry says: ‘I am excited to become a part of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The RNZB makes an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of Aotearoa, reaching all parts of New Zealand and inspiring young people to dream of and work towards successful careers onstage and working behind the scenes. I look forward to working with the Board, Patricia Barker and Lester McGrath to forge an even brighter future for New Zealand’s national ballet company’.
The RNZB also announced today that long-serving company Soloist Loughlan Prior will retire from full time dancing at the conclusion of the current Bold Moves tour, which finishes in Napier this weekend. Prior was appointed Choreographer in Residence with the RNZB in 2018 having joined the company in 2010 after training at the New Zealand School of Dance. His first full length work for the company, Hansel & Gretel, will premiere in Wellington on 6 November. In addition to his body of work for the RNZB, and his popularity as a project choreographer in New Zealand, Prior is increasingly in demand internationally; November will also see the premiere of his new work, The Appearance of Colour, for Queensland Ballet.
‘Loughlan is a wonderful artist’ says Artistic Director Patricia Barker. ‘He has made an outstanding contribution to the RNZB over the last decade, onstage as a dancer in a very broad range of roles, and as a choreographer with a bright future. I am very pleased to announce that, alongside his role as Choreographer in Residence, he will continue to perform with the RNZB from time to time in his new role as a Principal Character Artist.
These announcements round off an exciting week for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. On 11 September, the RNZB’s commitment to becoming more accessible was recognised at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019 when it received the Arts Access Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award at a special event at Parliament. In their comments, the judging panel said: ‘The RNZB is a role model for everyone in the arts sector wishing to develop new audiences by improving their accessibility and engaging with diverse communities. We applaud its commitment, comprehensive accessibility policy, free companion seat and a programme of events that makes ballet accessible to people who might not otherwise get the chance to experience it.’