Keira Whitaker's picture
  • Dish
  • 5 January 2018
Patricia Barker teaching at the New Zealand School of Dance

It may be winter right now, but things at the RNZB are getting heated. The ballet company has been under a lot of scrutiny from the media recently for several issues, one being their significant downsizing. However, recently appointed director Patricia Barker (of Pacific Northwest Ballet fame) has come forward with a rebuttal.

A few weeks ago, the New Zealand Herald wrote an article stating that nearly half of the thirty-six member company was leaving by the new year; though turnover in a ballet company is normal, having half of a company depart is unusually high. It's not the only unusually unstable thing - the company has had 3 directors in the last 6 years.

Barker has come forward to attempt to address some of these rumors about departing dancers, noting that the number of dancers who left during her tenure was actually ten. Several retired, several were not rehired, and several moved to other companies.

Dance Magazine provided the following quote from Barker: "As far as dancers coming and going, it's the evolution of any company. All of the attention towards that gives me a sense the community really cares about the organization and I hope that we continue to get this much media coverage as we move into the next season and the wonderful ballets are done."

Though it's not a totally clear answer as to just what's going on down there, I suppose it all goes to show that any publicity is good publicity, right? In the meantime, the company's Board of Directors has arranged for an independent investigation into the company's hiring procedures. Stay tuned.