Read the following excerpt from Sarah Catherall’s February 28th article for The Listener:
Usually, Shaun James Kelly is on stage dancing with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. On a hot weekday in February, though, the Scottish-born dancer is at the front of the company rehearsal studio, directing his first large-scale choreographic work, The Ground Beneath Our Feet.
Principal dancer Mayu Tanigaito is mesmerising to watch as Kelly leads the dozen women learning the piece.
Having joined the RNZB six years ago, after graduating from the English National Ballet school, Kelly has been one of three company choreographers in residence for the past two years. Groundis set to Bach’s Violin Concerto in G minor and has ballerinas en pointe and five couples dancing together.
“My work is about growth,” says Kelly. “I have this image of a seed growing into a beautiful flower and that’s what is taking me through the work. The idea of time, distance, and working with gravity.’’
Kelly’s piece may have classical touches, but it is part of the four-part Choreographic Series, a contemporary programme of new local works that marks the beginning of the RNZB’s performances for the year.
Along with Kelly, the series will feature the choreography of James O’Hara, Sarah Foster-Sproull and Moss Patterson – all “new-generation dance-makers’’ whom RNZB artistic director Patricia Barker engaged for their unique approaches, hoping they could give the company something that would set it apart.
Dance Data Project has seen Patricia Barker continuously engage female choreographers in every position. From Grand Rapids Ballet to New Zealand, clearly Barker is prioritizing advocacy and equity in her programming. She is doing just what she hopes for – setting her companies and repertoires apart.
Read the full article in The Listener.