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The Board of the New Zealand Dance Advancement Trust today announced the appointment of former Nederlands Dans Theater chief executive Janine Dijkmeijer as The New Zealand Dance Company’s (NZDC) Executive Director; and renowned dance artists and directors Victoria (Tor) Colombus and James O’Hara, as Co-Artistic Directors.

Board Chair Sharon van Gulik welcomed the new team saying the company was well placed for its next phase of development, building on the incredible artistic and organisational legacy of cofounder and former Chief Executive/Artistic Director, Shona McCullagh.

“The Trust was founded on the ambition of creating a full-time contemporary dance company for New Zealand by bringing together a high-calibre community of dancers, creative collaborators, arts managers and supporters dedicated to creating inspiring new dance. In appointing Janine, Tor and James, we believe we now have the talent to grow the artform of contemporary dance, and take the company into its next era”, van Gulik says.

Janine Dijkmeijer, currently living in the Netherlands as an advisor in the performing arts, says one of her missions in life is to be an advocate for the language of dance.

“I come from a family of researchers, innovators and doctors. I understand why I have come to be passionate about dance, because dance is deeply healing and always tells a true story. This language is nonviolent and global. Communicating through dance is playful and is never judgmental.

The New Zealand Dance Company is a jewel. I have known Shona through her films and it feels we are family. Shona’s wide vision of what is possible within dance and communication has always been close to me. I have seen the company perform in the Netherlands and always been impressed with the high quality of dancers. I’m very much looking forward to working with the new artistic directors and the team in New Zealand - the possibilities are unlimited”, she says.

Victoria (Tor) Colombus and James O’Hara who will co-lead the artistic vision and programme for the company, say they’re excited about the opportunity to nurture the NZDC into the next phase – together.

We are honoured to be appointed as the new co-Artistic Directors of the New Zealand Dance Company and are delighted to be working alongside Janine Dijkmeijer. We are looking forward to collaborating with the incredibly talented team at NZDC and are very excited to extend our connections with the wider artistic community that we adore and are inspired by. The dancers and makers of New Zealand have a unique sensibility forged by the artistic climate and the specific culture of Aotearoa. Grounded in the values that makes Aotearoa so unique, NZDC will continue to grow as a place of kindness, friendship and listening.

We would like to thank Shona for creating a unique platform for dance to grow in Aotearoa, and we want to acknowledge and thank all those that have woven their artistry and life into the company so far. We will honour the traditions already created, and are determined to continue growing NZDC as a place of research, discovery, discussion and adventure”, they say.

The New Zealand Dance Company Co-Founder and now Artistic Director of the Auckland Arts Festival, Shona McCullagh welcomed the appointments.

McCullagh says, “I am thrilled with the calibre and integrity of the new leadership team, who I know will lead NZDC with surety into brilliant new territory. I have huge respect for Janine whom I have known for decades as one of the world’s great dance arts managers. James is a globally respected, inspirational dance wonder and the DNA of dance in Aotearoa runs deep in Tor’s veins as a beautiful dancer, teacher, mentor and choreographer. I know that as a team of world class dance experts they will hold the dancers’ wellbeing front and centre of the company, where it belongs.

My thanks to the NZDC Board, management and dancers as they rowed the waka through the unchartered territory of COVID-19 and a leadership transition with wonderful courage, commitment and aroha. I wish the whānau all my best for the next era of a legacy arts company”.

The new leadership will commence part-time from June, with both roles moving to full time in 2021.


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