International Ballet Star to Visit New Zealand

03 May 2012

One of the world’s leading ballet stars, Darcey Bussell, is to visit New Zealand in June 2012 at the invitation of the New Zealand School of Dance and the Royal Academy of Dance.

She will attend two events during her short visit, a fundraising dinner and auction and a coaching session with students from the New Zealand School of Dance.

Heralded by The Telegraph (UK) as "the first British dancer since Margot Fonteyn to become a household name", Darcey Bussell is one of the greatest English ballerinas of all time.

Darcey was born in London, where she danced as Principal with The Royal Ballet, at the time the youngest ballerina to be given this honour. She has had a brilliant career, punctuated with numerous awards and guest roles. She has danced with many leading companies including the New York City Ballet, the Kirov Ballet and The Australian Ballet. Darcey was awarded a CBE in 2006, received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 2009 and is Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Dance.

A celebrity in Britain, Darcey has appeared on an episode of TV series ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ playing herself and has just been announced as the new judge for the UK’s BBC1 series ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

“It’s an absolute coup to have Darcey Bussell here for these events. It will be her first time in New Zealand and there is a buzz in the local dance community about her visit”, said Janet Taylor, director of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) in New Zealand. “The gala dinner is the only opportunity people will have to meet her. With nearly half the seats for the dinner already sold, the event is on track to being a sell-out.”

‘A Gala Dinner with Darcey Bussell’ will be held on 1 June at the InterContinental Hotel in Wellington. At the dinner Darcey will speak about her life and career. She will show footage of her spectacular performances and share some ‘behind the scenes’ stories. There will also be a fundraising auction of exclusive items donated by sponsors including packages to see the Australian Ballet in Sydney, the NZSO and Royal New Zealand Ballet in Wellington, a luxury weekend at Wharekauhau Lodge and Country Estate, artworks, fine jewellery and memorabilia from Weta and Darcey Bussell.

Fundraising proceeds from the dinner will help two charities, supporting both the Royal Academy of Dance and the New Zealand School of Dance on its 45th anniversary this year.

On Saturday 2 June, Darcey will visit the home of the New Zealand School of Dance, Te Whaea National Dance & Drama Centre in Wellington, to speak to the students and coach a number of the dancers, who are studying towards a three-year diploma in dance performance. For these students, training to be professional dancers themselves, Darcey is a role model. “They will benefit hugely from the input of someone of Darcey’s stature. And they are all fans”, said director of the New Zealand School of Dance Garry Trinder.

Garry has known Darcey for a number of years, saying "She is someone whose dancing I've followed closely because she has had such an outstanding career. During my time in Britain I had the privilege of seeing her perform many times." Garry is a friend of the celebrated choreographer Kenneth MacMillan who plucked Darcey from the corps de ballet when she was a young dancer and made her a star. MacMillan created the pivotal role in his last full-length ballet 'Prince of the Pagodas' for Darcey. "This created a huge amount of interest - he was one of the world's leading choreographers and had discovered her as a new talent".


Photo: Darcey Bussell, photographed by Anthony Crickmay

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