11 Dec 2009
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To top off a stellar year for the New Zealand School of Dance, 80% of its graduating class has already secured professional contracts with prestigious companies.
"This is a wonderful achievement for both the students and the School," says New Zealand School of Dance director, Garry Trinder. "Each of the students has something unique to offer and for them to have been recruited by these companies is acknowledgment of both the dancer's talent and their training."
New Zealander Katherine Grange has been awarded the Todd Scholarship, which is provided annually to an outstanding New Zealand School of Dance graduating student. The scholarship, provided by the Todd Corporation, will cover Katherine's salary for her first year of employment with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Having toured with the company during the highly successful season of La Sylphide earlier this year, Katherine is pleased to the joining the Royal New Zealand Ballet in a fulltime capacity.
Fellow classical student Loughlan Prior has also been offered a fulltime contract with Royal NZ Ballet for 2010, which will begin in January. Loughlan danced with the company during their tour to China earlier this year.
Contemporary students Jessica Jefferies and Nicola Leahey will both join renowned Australian company, Dancenorth. The company's newly appointed Artistic Director, Raewyn Hill, is also a graduate of the New Zealand School of Dance.
Haruka Tsuji joined Singapore Dance Theatre on a fulltime basis just days after the Graduation Season performances at the New Zealand School of Dance. She is currently in rehearsal for the company's December season of the magical ballet, Swan Lake. Originally from Japan, Haruka competed at the 2006 Prix de Lausanne, and as a result was offered a scholarship place at the New Zealand School of Dance.
Fellow NZSD students Alison Carroll, Katherine Grange and John Murray are also performing in Swan Lake, supplementing Singapore Dance Theatre's corps de ballet for this production.
Australian-born Kristian Pisano has been offered a place within Queensland Ballet's Professional Year. During the year, Kristian will have the opportunity to perform such audience-favourites as Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet next year.
Wellingtonian Lucy Marinkovich will join Footnote Dance in 2010. The company will perform as part of the 2010 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts and subsequently embark on a tour to China.
André Santos has been offered a full-time contract with West Australian Ballet. He danced within the company's new production of Romeo & Juliet earlier this year. André is originally from Brazil and was talent-spotted at the New York finals of the Youth America Grand Prix. Consequently, he was offered a scholarship to train at the New Zealand School of Dance, with financial assistance from the Jerome Robbins Foundation.
Jana Castillo will tour with Nimby Opera's acclaimed production of Janácek's Cunning Little Vixen in 2010. Sacha Copland, the choreographer of this production, is also a graduate of NZSD.
Classical student, Alexander Vivian-Riding, has been offered a position with Cape Town City Ballet in South Africa. He anticipates joining the company for its summer season in March 2010.
Robbie Curtis will perform with several companies in 2010, including Australian Dance Theatre, Footnote Dance and Cirque du Soleil.
"The ongoing high employment rate of the New Zealand School of Dance students stems from our commitment to sustaining relationships and networks both in this country and internationally," says Garry Trinder, adding that NZSD's employment rate is even more significant in the current economic climate. "World-wide, dancers are holding onto their positions so there has been a trend for fewer shifts between companies and as a result, less contracts becoming available. I'm delighted that, despite this trend, New Zealand School of Dance graduates have received so many job offers."
"These young dancers' careers will be followed with much anticipation."