New Zealand ballet and the Italian Connection

Thanks to the Encyclopedia of New Zealand I discovered that a 19th-century promoter of Italian immigration pointed out that New Zealand “bears a striking resemblance to Italy, turned upside down with the foot end facing up”.

I think he/she meant the South Island not the North.

The appointment announced today of Francesco Ventriglia, 36, as artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, represents a new direction (ballet foot facing out?) linking Italy with New Zealand.

Ventriglia succeeds Ethan Stiefel, artistic director of the RNZB for the past three years.

The company’s chairwoman, Candis Craven, said “the calibre of applicants was extremely high.

“Francesco greatly impressed the board with the breadth of his artistic vision, his intellect, his knowledge of repertoire, and his great energy. He has a strong track record of nurturing talented young dancers and choreographers, and we believe he is the perfect fit to lead New Zealand’s national ballet company”.

Ventriglia trained at the ballet school of La Scala, Milan, joining the La Scala ballet company in 1997.

In 2010 he was appointed director of MaggioDanza (Opera Dance Theatre), a company founded in Florence in 1967 but disbanded last year.

Ventriglia will take up his appointment as the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 11th artistic director in November 2014.

The company has also announced its 2015 season that will start with a national tour of Don Quixote, first staged by former artistic director, Gary Harris in 2008.

RNZB will mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in a mixed bill titled Salute.

The three choreographers are Johan Kobborg, Neil Ieremia and Andrew Simmons.

Liam Scarlett will choreograph a new full-length Midsummer Night’s Dream, a co-production of the RNZB and Queensland Ballet, premiering on 20 August, 2015.

The RNZB’s year will end with a return to the UK, performing classical and contemporary works, including Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s Giselle, in England and Scotland.

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Francesco Ventriglia

Liam Scarlett, photo © George Piper

Salute, RNZB dancer Joseph Skelton, photo © Ross Brown