Former students of the New Zealand School of Dance who have made their mark as Choreographers
Born in 1972 in Oamaru, Raewyn spent her childhood in South Island of New Zealand. Accepted into the New Zealand School of Dance at the age of 15, Raewyn graduated in 1992 with the Best All Round Student Award. She was subsequently named on the Distinguished Honours Board in recognition of her commitment to dance in New Zealand.
Raewyn has become one of New Zealand’s foremost contemporary dance-theatre practitioners. Throughout her career she has received numerous awards and endless accolades from critics and audiences throughout Australasia. She is no stranger to the Australian Dance scene having worked with Sue Healy and toured with Gary Stewart's company THWACK in the original Plastic Space. Her widely acclaimed solo show When Love Comes Calling was a sell-out season at the Sydney Opera House Studio Theatre. She created A dance for the forgotten for Tasdance in 2007 and One for sorrow toured on the Tasdance program in 2008.
In 2001 she established Soapbox Productions. The company toured regularly in New Zealand and developed eight critically acclaimed full-length works, When Love Comes Calling, White, Night, Angels with Dirty Feet, Here lies within, We are gathered here today, A dance for the forgotten and Finders Keepers. Smaller commissioned works were created for Footnote Dance Company, New Zealand School of Dance, Royal New Zealand Ballet and Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
2006 saw the transformation of Soapbox Productions into her new Company ‘Raewyn Hill and Dancers’. Her husband Richard Longbottom (NZSD Graduate ’99, ex Royal New Zealand Ballet) was Associate Director, Artistic Advisor and Rehearsal Director. In 2009 the company presented Finders Keepers, a full-length work supported by Creative New Zealand, at the Festival of Colour in Wanaka and at Christchurch Arts Festival.
Raewyn has appeared as guest teacher and choreographer for a number of institutions including the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Footnote Dance Company, New Zealand School of Dance, Unitec Performing Arts School, Beijing Dance Academy, Western Australia Performing Arts, Tasdance, and The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. In 2006 she was invited to be the choreographer for the TVNZ series ‘Rude Awakenings’ as well as advise the producers for the New Zealand version of ‘So you think you can dance’.
Raewyn premiered a new work Vespers at the inaugural Asia Pacific Dance Platform, 37th Hong Kong Arts Festival in February 2009. That year she was also the first New Zealander to be awarded a prestigious Cite International des Arts residency in Paris. Raewyn was appointed Artistic Director of Dancenorth in Australia in 2010. In 2011 she was invited to create a graduation work for New York’s prestigious performing arts conservatoire The Juilliard School.
MNZM, NZ Arts Laureate
Shona holds a unique position in New Zealand as an outstanding film director, dancer/choreographer, filmmaker and educator.
Graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1983 as Best All Round Dancer with a Special Award in Choreography, Shona danced with Sydney-based company Darc Swan, Limbs Dance Company and Douglas Wright Dance Company, of which she became Associate Director in 1991. During her career as a dancer she performed throughout New Zealand and in Australia, New York, Los Angeles, Holland, Chile and the UK.
As a choreographer Shona has created many successful works for companies such as Limbs, Footnote, Douglas Wright Dance Company, The Royal New Zealand Ballet and her own company The Human Garden. She has also created work extensively for theatre, television, live events and film, including sequences for Xena – Warrior Princess, Hercules and Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring and King Kong. She was a founding member and prolific choreographer of The Watershed Theatre, and has also worked with Auckland Theatre Company on numerous occasions.
In 1999, Shona was named a New Zealander of the Year in North & South Magazine, in 2000 became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to dance and in 2002 became a New Zealand Arts Foundation Arts Laureate.
All three of Shona’s short films have achieved wide international recognition and unprecedented sales for New Zealand work featuring dance as a narrative medium. Her film work has been featured at the Moving Pictures Festival in Toronto, the Australasian 2002 Reeldance Awards, the BBC’s Shortest Night Short Film Festival, 2007 Dance on Camera Festival in America and the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival in France.
Shona co-directed the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for television in 2005 and in 2007 produced a full-length live performance piece titled The Peep Shows, combining her love of moving image and dance. Shona is Artistic Director of the New Zealand Dance Company.
MARY JANE O'REILLY
Mary Jane O’Reilly has earned a reputation as one of New Zealand’s most respected dance practitioners in a career spanning over 40 years.
One of the inaugural students of the New Zealand School of Dance (then called the National School of Ballet), Mary Jane graduated in 1968, and was offered a contract with the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 1969. The following year, she was awarded a Royal Academy of Dancing scholarship to attend the Royal Ballet School in London (UK), and followed this with international study in both classical ballet and contemporary dance.
In 1977, Mary Jane co-founded the renowned Limbs Dance Company, and held the position of Artistic Director from 1979 to 1986. In 1984, Mary Jane received the Alan Highet award for an outstanding mid-career artist, and in 1990 was awarded the Queens Service Medal. In 1996, Mary Jane founded the Auckland Dance Company, and held the position of Artistic Director until 2003.
Mary Jane choreographed for the opening ceremony of the 1990 Commonwealth Games with a cast of 6000, the three act ballet Jean for the Royal New Zealand Ballet (1990), and the Millennium Dawn Ceremony supporting Kiri te Kanawa in Gisborne (2000). She has augmented her choreographic career with positions as Trustee of Auckland Performing Arts School, Committee Member of Auckland Arts Advocates, Advisor to the QEII Arts Council, Senior Lecturer of Dance at Auckland University, Governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and Executive Committee member of Women in Film and Television.
Mary Jane was Artistic Director of Tempo, New Zealand’s Festival of Dance from 2005 until 2011. She is now choreographer and director of Flagrant Productions.
Born in 1970, Daniel Belton graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1990, and was awarded the Fay Richwhite Scholarship during his time at the School.
He has performed with many contemporary dance companies, including the Douglas Wright Dance Company, Arc Dance Company (London / Europe), Irek Mukhamedov (London / Europe), Aletta Collins Dance Company (London / UK), Glyndebourne Festival Opera (UK), Compania Vicente Saez (Spain / Europe) and Tanz Company Gervasi (Vienna / Austria).
Turning his focus toward choreography, Daniel founded Daniel Belton and Good Company in 1997. Good Company has established a reputation for unique multi-disciplinary approach to production, having created 32 critically-acclaimed dance performance pieces for site-specific, installation, opera, dance-theatre and digital spaces. Additionally, Daniel's dance film works have been selected for over 69 international dance and multi-media festivals.
Daniel has created new choreographic commissions for Black Grace, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Unitec, The New Zealand School of Dance, The Body Festival, The University of Otago, and The University of Waikato.