A brief encounter with Loughlan Prior, dancer

By Sarah Daniell

A few words with dancer Loughlan Prior.
Loughlan Prior as The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
Loughlan Prior as The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

When have you needed to click your heels together and get back to "Kansas"?

I have not been a fan of heights or roller coasters, ever since a trip my family took to a big theme park when I was little. I remember being petrified of everything I saw, crying buckets and wishing I could make a quick getaway by strapping on some ruby slippers.

Where is your "Kansas"?

My Kansas is a combination of two cities - Melbourne and Wellington. Both places hold a place in my heart because of the incredible friends and family who live there.

In the theme of The Wizard of Oz - what is it you would go looking for?

You can never have enough courage. Sometimes I think I'd like to visit the Emerald City just so I could meet the Wizard and be given a medal to remind me that there really is bravery inside that chest of mine.

When did you ever make a leap of faith?

My biggest leap of faith came a few years into my professional career, when I started to listen and believe in the abilities I had hiding inside. I realised that I had an incredibly strong desire to become a choreographer and film-maker. After following my passion and developing my work over a number of years, I was announced the winner of the Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award, funded by the Ballet Foundation of New Zealand last year and in the same year was very proud to have one of my short films screen in New York at the Dance on Camera Festival.

What is the greatest myth about ballet dancers?

The most obvious stereotype is that all the men are gay and all the women have eating disorders. This is simply untrue and an incredibly antiquated beliefs. In 2016, more straight men are dancing than ever before ... and have you seen the women? They train at the same level as Olympic athletes, with healthy eating plans to fuel bodies that perform incredibly athletic feats on the stage.

Why, when you are from Melbourne, do you stick around New Zealand?

New Zealand is a beautiful country and Wellington really is the coolest little capital. I am continually impressed by the diversity of public and private art that produced there and the influence it has on me. I consider Wellington to be one of the Southern Hemisphere's strongest hubs for inspiring artists and a melting pot for creative networking.

Loughlan Prior performs in the Royal New Zealand Ballet's The Wizard of Oz, June 2-5, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland.

- Canvas

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