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The Piano: the ballet – world premiere of iconic New Zealand story re-imagined for the stage

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is gearing up for the premiere of The Piano: the ballet, a new full length ballet by Czech choreographer Jiří Bubeníček, presented in association with the New Zealand Festival and the Auckland Arts Festival.

The work is inspired by the film The Piano, with permission kindly granted by Jane Campion, Jan Chapman and Saddleback Productions. Following the world premiere season opening in Wellington on 23 February, the production will tour to Napier, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Palmerston North.

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker says “This country offers countless visual and artistic riches and I’m pleased that the Royal New Zealand Ballet will continue to embody the elegance, grandeur and strength that define New Zealand’s landscapes in this work.”

Originally conceived as a short work for Dortmund Ballet, The Piano: the ballet has been re-imagined and expanded for New Zealand’s national ballet, giving Ada’s story a new and distinctively New Zealand voice and, in dance, a powerful new means of expression.

Excerpts from Michael Nyman’s iconic film score are blended with evocative music by Debussy, Arensky, Stravinsky, Schnittke, Brahms and Shostakovich.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is working closely with former Atamira Dance Company Artistic Director Moss Patterson (Ngāti Tūwharetoa) to deepen the RNZB dancers’ understanding of the story’s Māori themes and characters, and to provide advice and guidance to the dancers on the distinct movements in dance, musical and soundscape elements as well as costume and prop designs.

Large scale multimedia projections created by Otto Bubeníček will transport audiences deep into the landscapes and setting of the powerful story, utilising the RNZB’s two new Panasonic  projectors which are the most powerful of their kind in New Zealand.

Young dancers from the Auckland-based Philippa Campbell School of Dance and from Fusion Dance Studio were chosen to dance the role of Flora from a group of one hundred who auditioned. They will be joined by a supporting cast of children from dance schools in each region on the tour.

New Zealand filmmaker Rebecca Tansley is directing a feature documentary film that follows the creation and staging of the ballet. With exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the company’s preparations and rehearsals and the people involved, the film will reveal all the many hours of hard work and creative magic that goes into bringing this full-length work to the stage.

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RNZB: The Piano Re-imagined

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