New Zealand School of Dance
It was the beginning of an enduring relationship, strengthened by the 1998 arrival of the School’s new director, Garry Trinder, a former artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet.
“The school’s links into Asia were a bit hit and miss in those days,” Garry says. “We didn’t have a strategic approach. I was conscious of the potential of what we could offer if we could make collaborations work. When I became aware of Asia:NZ I could immediately see the possibilities of bringing artists to New Zealand.”
Over the years, the Foundation has assisted the school in staging works by some of Asia’s best choreographers, including Façade in 2004 by Jeffrey Tan, resident choreographer of the Singapore Dance Theatre and Rise in 2013 by Japanese choreographer Jo Funaki.
In 2015 Singaporean Kuik Swee Boon from T.H.E Dance Company taught students his work “As It Fades” for their graduation season. More recently the Foundation has supported the 2017 staging of Taiwanese choreographer Huang Yi’s Wicked Fish.
But as Garry notes, there were times when spontaneous opportunities arose to work together, such as when the Foundation supported a visit to New Zealand by Gambler Crew, Korea’s top b-boy team. During their 2009 tour they ran a workshop at the School – not with contemporary dancers, but with classical students. Then in 2014, its 20th anniversary year, the Foundation invited Li Cunxin of Mao’s Last Dancer fame for a speaking tour. Li took a ballet master class at the School.
The School’s profile in Asia has blossomed over the years and 20 percent of students now come from Asia. “When I first arrived here I think we had one Japanese student,” Garry laughs. “It was a real novelty.”