The Harry Haythorne Fund

Harry Haythorne MBE, 1926 – 2014

Harry was the Artistic Director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet from 1981 – 1992. Before his death, he made a generous donation to the Foundation. Upon his death in November 2014, in lieu of flowers, and in accordance with his wishes, his executors asked for donations in his memory to be made to The Ballet Foundation of New Zealand.

In 2015, The Ballet Foundation decided, in partnership with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, to support a choreographic season in his name and held the inaugural Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award. The Trustees hope that, subject to continued funding, this will become an annual event.

New choreography is pure oxygen for any dance company. Through Harry’s personal generosity and that of his many friends and colleagues, The Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award was created by the Ballet Foundation of New Zealand in memory of the RNZB’s longest serving Artistic Director. The Award gives choreographers within the company the opportunity to develop choreographic ideas and works.

We were pleased to announce Loughlan Prior as winner of the inaugural award for his work Eve. The second annual Harry Haythorne Award was offered in November 2016 to Shaun James Kelly, who won the Judges’ Award for his work Blanc, while Laura Saxon Jones won an Audience Award for her work Alpha.

Between There and Now

RNZB dancers perform Sarah Knox’s Between There and Now at the 2017 Harry Haythorne Awards.

At the 2017 Harry Haythorne Awards, Sarah Knox won with Between There and Now; and Jo Funaki won the Audience Award with So Ko Ka Ra Na Ni Ga Mi E Ru ?

For someone like me, with a strong background and interest in the art form of ballet, this was an incredible and unique opportunity to explore and hone my ballet-making skills.” – Sarah Knox.

Building works caused disruptions at the St James Theatre, the home of the RNZB, which meant that the company was unable to produce the Harry Haythorne Award in 2018.

RNZB dancer perform Hansel & Gretel by Loughlan Prior in 2019. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

In 2019, the Award was given to commission Loughlan Prior to create his first full-length work with the RNZB; Hansel & Gretel. The Foundation Trustees selected Nadia Yanowsky as recipient in 2020.

Patricia Barker, RNZB Artistic Director, says “it is wonderful to see the Ballet Foundation endorse Nadia’s work, especially in a year when the RNZB is celebrating female choreographers. Nadia’s choreography gives both a compelling narrative and technical complexity; she expects as much from her dancers as she herself would give, and everyone enjoyed the challenging and rewarding experience of working together in the RNZB studios.”

Nadia Yanowsky works on Eon in the studio with RNZB Dancers in 2020. Photo by Celia Walmsley.

If you would like to make a donation to this fund, please download this form.

About Harry Haythorne:

A full-time professional entertainer from the age of 14, Harry’s career took him from Australia to London in 1949. He performed, or acted as Ballet Master, for some of Europe’s finest companies and directors, before being appointed as Assistant Artistic Director for Scottish Ballet. He was Artistic Director for Queensland Ballet 1976-79 before moving to New Zealand.

Under his artistic leadership the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s repertoire expanded to include many new commissions and existing works from New Zealand and international choreographers, including Duo Concertante, String Concerto, Orpheus, The Firebird, The Rake’s Progress, Wolfgang Amadeus, Hamlet and A Servant of Two Masters. As he himself said in The Royal New Zealand Ballet at 60, ‘… our aim was always to bring The World of Dance to New Zealand and take New Zealand Dance to the World.’

Harry made a wonderful contribution to the RNZB and to the performing arts in New Zealand. Under his leadership the company reached many milestones, including its first full-length production of Swan Lake, the staging of a Royal Gala in 1981 and 30th anniversary celebrations in 1983, the award of its Royal Charter in 1984, and its first tour to China.

He remained in frequent contact with the RNZB throughout his life. Despite his increasing frailty, he made the journey to Wellington to celebrate the company’s 60th birthday in July 2013, and to take a final curtain call with the dancers onstage. He was a loving and generous friend to the RNZB, often describing his years in New Zealand as ‘the happiest time of his life’. He will be deeply missed.