En Pointe

Cityscape caught up with Royal New Zealand Ballet’s visionary genius/Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia to find out what we can expect from their exquisite 2017 season.

You’re opening the 2017 season with Petit’s Carmen and L'Arlésienne – talk about coming out with guns blazing! What can we expect from these performances and the greater season?

Thanks! We are really excited about the 2017 season which is full of passion, tragedy, rhythm and energy – a truly world class line-up. Roland Petit was one great choreographers of the 20th century and these are two of his most iconic ballets, neither of which have ever been performed in New Zealand. As a dancer at the age of 20 I was selected by Roland Petit himself to dance in Carmen – he taught me and nurtured my talent and meeting him was a great turning point for me as an artist. I’m delighted that the dancers of the Royal New Zealand Ballet will have the opportunity to dance his masterpieces and share them with our audiences.

This is being followed up by Cacti, Tuplet and Episode 31 – how excited is everyone about bringing the brilliant Cacti back to the stage?

Cacti absolutely charmed audiences when we presented it as part of our hugely successful mixed bill Speed of Light in early 2016. And because of this I wanted to put the focus entirely on the choreographer Alexander Ekman who created Cacti and to give New Zealand audiences the opportunity to get to know him better. We will be the first dance company in the world to have a triple entirely made up of his work.

How would you describe this trilogy?

Tuplet and Episode 31 are another two of Ekman’s really famous works. All three works – including Cacti – express the way he observes the world, which he translates into dance in a very entertaining way. Often witty, always with great musicality, incredible lighting and staging, and of course wonderful movement, Three by Ekman really shouldn’t be missed.

How is the RNZB celebrating New Zealand School of Dance’s 50th anniversary?

While the RNZB has always strong relationship the NZSD, it wasn’t until 2015 that it became the Official School of the RNZB. We are delighted to be involved in this 50th celebration of the national dance school through its Gala event which we will open and close, and, adding to the excitement, this will be the first time that the company and the school will share the stage.

The Christchurch season closes with Romeo and Juliet – tell us about your vision and inspiration for this.

I’m honoured to be creating a second title for the RNZB and to be working with Shakespeare’s timeless tale – the greatest love story of all time. The world premiere of my Romeo and Juliet will be traditional and is very much inspired by Franco Zeffirelli’s (one of Italy’s great film directors) stunning classic 1968 film. We have an incredible team of collaborators: James Acheson, the three-time Academy Award winning designer (The Last Emperor, Dangerous Liaisons) will bring Renaissance Verona to life with his stunning set and costumes; dramaturgy will be provide by Mario Mattia Giorgetti to assist with the story telling; and Prokofiev’s instantly recognisable score will be performed live by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hamish McKeich. Passion, tragedy, rhythm and energy – this new ballet will have it all. I look forward to seeing you at the Isaac Theatre Royal!

Find out more about the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2017 season at www.rnzb.org.nz

Image: Ross Brown. Women’s clothing by Hailwood and men’s clothing supplied by David Jones.

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