2019 Harry Haythorne Award

2019 Harry Haythorne Award

Loughlan Prior
Loughlan Prior. Photo: Stephen A’Court.

Loughlan Prior Receives the Harry Haythorne Award 2019

After a hiatus re-thinking the Harry Haythorne Award in 2018, in 2019 the Ballet Foundation Trustees sponsored choreographer Loughlan Prior to create a new work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Faint starlight peeps through the dark forest canopy. It is midnight: the witching hour.

Alone and lost, two hungry children stumble towards a glowing vision of warmth and comfort, heaven for any child with an empty belly and an aching heart. But all is not as it seems…

For Christmas 2019, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is proud to present Hansel & Gretel; a new two act ballet by Loughlan Prior, with a specially commissioned score.

Loughlan will bring a new voice to a classic tale, telling the story with humour while also addressing the underlying themes of child poverty and children’s rights. Gretel is the heroine of the story and will lead the dancing through a vibrantly lit new set. This major premiere brings together New Zealand’s brightest young creative talents to tell a timeless tale for audiences young and old.

Artistic Director Patricia Barker’s vision for the RNZB is to be celebrated for commissioning works by the brightest young choreographers, while meticulously maintaining the highest standards of traditional classics. This commission aims to elevate the level of our homegrown artists, dancers, designers, choreographers and musicians.

RNZB Choreographer in Residence Loughlan Prior has built up a significant body of work as a choreographer and film maker, creating works for members of the RNZB as well as for diverse New Zealand companies and creative partners, and for performances and film festivals in Australia, Germany, France, Canada and the USA. Loughlan was the winner of the inaugural Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award in 2015. His The Long and The Short of It, inspired by Sir Jon Trimmer, enchanted New Zealand audiences during 2018’s Tutus on Tour.

The 2019 Harry Haythorne Award is an endorsement of his talent as he continues to flourish as a choreographer.

Hansel & Gretel is the opportunity for a major leap forward in Loughlan Prior’s career, as he transitions from dancer to choreographer, and will be his first opportunity to create a full-length work for a leading national ballet company. I will mentor Loughlan to ensure he is successful in this endeavour.

Although Loughlan has already had international recognition for his choreography, Hansel & Gretel is a major artistic statement that will very likely open up new opportunities for him, such a new commissions and the opportunity for this work to be shown internationally.

Hansel & Gretel will be the RNZB’s biggest tour of 2019. We anticipate a nationwide audience of at least 25,000, with performances complemented by schools’ matinees, workshops, accessibility initiatives such as audio-described performances and touch tours of the set, plus a pre-season open day at Te Papa likely to attract more than 4,000 people to a day of free events for families. New commissions allow choreographers to draw their inspiration from and create works tailor-made for the artists of the RNZB. This allows dancers to be inspired to reach greater artistic heights and satisfy their desires as artists.

Success for Hansel & Gretel

This production toured to full houses throughout New Zealand and received rave reviews. It has been one of the RNZB’s most popular creations.

In 2020, the RNZB broadcast Hansel & Gretel as part of its Live in your Living Room series, while the company was unable to perform during the first major Covid-19 lock-downs. Hansel & Gretel was watched by thousands of viewers from around the globe.

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Soloist Katherine Skelton and Artist Madeleine Graham in The Ryman Healthcare Season of The Sleeping Beauty, 2020. Photo: Stephen A’Court.