About Us

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) is one of the Southern Hemisphere’s leading dance training institutions, preparing students for careers in professional dance performance.

Established in 1967, the NZSD has an international reputation. It is known for producing versatile and employable dancers, skilled in classical ballet and contemporary dance. The School's unique training develops qualities that meet the needs of the dance profession while extending the boundaries of the art form.

Around eighty gifted young dancers study full-time at the School. In recent years this has included students from around New Zealand, the Asia/Pacific region and further afield.

An impressive faculty of teaching staff, choreographers, and international guest tutors assist students to achieve two or three-year qualifications in dance performance.Most graduates enter careers in dance performance, around 75% of students gaining contracts within six months of graduating. Former students have gone on to make significant contributions to dance, leading outstanding careers and dancing with top companies around the world.
School Tour

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We're the official school of the Royal New Zealand Ballet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB), the national ballet company of Aotearoa, was founded in 1953 by Danish dancer Poul Gnatt, as a touring professional ballet company for all New Zealanders. Based in Wellington at the St James Theatre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s national heritage and has one of the largest followings of all New Zealand performing arts companies. The company is led by Artistic Director Ty King-Wall and Executive Director Tobias Perkins and enjoys a reputation for strong and unique interpretations of full-length dramatic works as well as an enviable record in commissioning new works from New Zealand and international choreographers. Many graduates of the New Zealand School of Dance are, and have been, members of the RNZB, and students from the School are sometimes seconded into the company. Members of the RNZB’s Artistic staff teach regularly at the School. 

2023 marked twenty years of RNZB Education, a year-round programme of events for schools, young dancers and ballet schools, which, since it began, has seen hundreds of thousands of Kiwis of all ages experience ballet. The education programme has extended into prisons through a partnership with the Department of Corrections. In the last ten years alone, RNZB Education has presented more than 4,000 in-person events, all free or low-cost, with more than 30,000 people now participating every year. Digital events have added hugely to this number, with more than 36,000 primary school children, through more than 400 teachers, accessing the Step Online digital dance resource in the first six months of 2022.
School Tour

View our campus

Student Facilities

Common Room

The student common room is equipped with comfortable seating and dining areas, a number of computer terminals and WiFi connection. Students are provided with free tea and coffee and have their own kitchen with fridge, microwaves and dishwashers. The student common room facilities are shared with students from Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School. As well as a place for the students to unwind, the common room is sometimes used for rehearsals, cabaret shows and other improvised projects.


The NZSD has formed a unique relationship with Jetts Fitness Newtown, located a short distance from the School. All students have full membership of Jetts gyms in New Zealand and Australia, funded by their student services levy. The gyms are fully equipped with cardio and weights-based equipment. The school’s gym instructor conducts training programmes to help students get the most out of their training.


The NZSD physiotherapy service is open to all students for assessment, diagnosis and injury management. We encourage early detection and intervention. The School’s physiotherapists, work closely with sports physicians, orthopaedic specialists and other health professionals to ensure the highest quality of care is delivered to all students. Individual Programmes All dancers undergo a screening process and orthopaedic and medical examination before entry to the School. Individual programmes are designed for students, and further screening occurs throughout training at the NZSD to ensure peak performance is maintained.


Pilates training at NZSD builds a strong foundation for dancers, addressing biomechanical weaknesses through core strength, flexibility, and injury prevention sessions led by instructors. The NZSD Pilates instructor is at the School to work with students three to four times a week. There is a fee for this service. Gyrotonic sessions further enhance muscle coordination, which is crucial for dancers. Additionally, a rehabilitation class offers tailored assistance, integrating Pilates/Gyrotonic exercises with dance techniques to aid in recovery and performance enhancement.


New Zealand School of Dance students use the medical services of neighbouring Massey University. Massey Student Health and Counselling Centre offers high quality holistic health care. The centre is staffed by doctors, nurses, counsellors, health improvement practitioner, and student care teams. It offers a general practice service, including ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), sexual health and family planning consultations. The Student Counselling Service offers a confidential, professional service dealing with issues such as relationships, self-esteem, grief, anger management, sexuality and abuse. They offer a private, free and confidential service. All counsellors are members of a professional body and follow an appropriate code of ethics. The NZSD student services levy pays for this service. Although healthcare is subsidised some extra charges may apply.

Clinical Psychologist

The School offers the services of an on-site clinical psychologist. The psychologist is an integral part of the School's team of health professionals, supporting our students' well-being and performance.

Other Providers

The School's physiotherapists work closely with external providers when necessary. These providers, including chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and others, are trusted clinicians who offer specialised services.. By referring students to these external providers, the physiotherapists ensure that the students receive the best possible care, tailored to their individual needs.
Our History

An ever lasting in New Zealand Dance history

Established in 1967 in Wellington by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand, the National School of Ballet (now the New Zealand School of Dance) aimed to prepare students for employment with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Under Sara Neil's leadership, it began with nine full-time students and four part-time Senior Scholars.

In 1982, the School changed its name to the New Zealand School of Dance, reflecting the expansion of the curriculum to embrace contemporary dance training. Those who graduated at this time soon became the backbone of Limbs Dance Company, New Zealand’s first professional contemporary dance company.

Over its history, the school has had eight directors, all leaving their mark on the training programme. Many staff members are former professional dancers, and some faculty members are alumni of the school, contributing to its reputation for excellence in dance education.
Garry Trinder was appointed director of the School in 1998, and the School moved into Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre the same year. The building, shared with Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School, is one the finest performing arts venues in Australasia, with nine studios, a 180-seat theatre, the Nola Millar performing arts library, classroom, physiotherapy, fitness and Pilates facilities.

Shell established a scholarship in 1982, assisting New Zealand School of Dance graduates in their first year of employment with the Royal New Zealand Ballet for fifteen years. The Todd Scholarship was established in 2001 to continue this support. Fay Richwhite provided a scholarship for contemporary students from 1987 – 1989.

The School has established a strong international profile, being invited to become a Scholarship provider to the Youth America Grand Prix (New York) in 2004, recognised as a Partner School of the Prix de Lausanne (Switzerland) in 2005, and director Garry Trinder appointed President of the jury for the Asian Grand Prix (Hong Kong) in 2012.

Approximately seventy students study full-time, and fifty young dancers participate in aspirational programmes. Over the years, the full-time training programme has evolved into a two-year Certificate in Dance Performance, and a three-year Diploma in Dance Performance. The students choose from the outset to major in classical ballet or contemporary dance, enabling them to work to their strengths whilst maintaining a firm grounding in their minor discipline.

Many graduates of the New Zealand School of Dance have gone on to make significant contributions to the dance world both nationally and internationally, dancing with companies such as the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Australian Dance Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Sydney Dance Company, West Australian Ballet, Footnote Dance, Royal Danish Ballet, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Les Ballets C de la B, Black Grace, Singapore Dance Theatre, The National Ballet of Canada, The New Zealand Dance Company and English National Ballet.
Past Directors

Past Directors

Garry Trinder MNZM (1998 – Current)
Rochelle Zide-Booth (August 1993 -1998)
Anne Rowse ONZM (1978 – April 1993)
Rowena Jackson Chatfield (1975 – 1977)
Philip Chatfield (1972 – 1975)
Dorothy Daniels MBE (1968 – 1971)
Russell Kerr QSM ONZM (1967 – 1968)
Sara Neil (1967)