"Hold on," says the woman on the end of the line. "He is in rehearsal right now. I'll just go and grab him."
Not noticeably out of breath, Matthew Rich, from the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, soon announces his arrival with a big Big Apple "Hi".
Rich is a senior dancer with the company that will make its premiere New Zealand performance in the Auckland Arts Festival, presenting a programme of three works: Grace Engine by Canadian choreographer of the moment and associate choreographer to Cedar Lake, the celebrated Crystal Pite; Hofesh Shechter's Violet Kid; and Necessity, Again by Jo Stromgren.
The morning's rehearsal has been with Pite fine tuning the work she created in 2012. "Just after she had her baby," remembers Rich.
He describes this final, pre-tour detailing as "making the gravy of the piece".
"It is a very intense work," says Rich, "and creating it with Pite has been a very collaborative process. It has a cinematic quality but a very beautiful human quality as well. Audiences can make connections with it. Everyone in the audience will take something meaningful from it ... maybe not the thing that Crystal exactly intended, but something of value."
Grace Engine involves Cedar Lake's full complement of eight men and eight women dancers and is set to an electronic score by Owen Belton.
Pite described her starting point for the piece to the Guardian in 2012, as the "dynamic and dangerous clatter of a train" and "the notion of cold metal enclosing warm bodies".
The work features dramatic stops and starts and rushes of movement dissolving into stillness as Pite juggles her themes of human experience, memory and the passage of time.
London-based Shechter's Violet Kid is another intense work, seething with a repressed anger and requiring the dancers to employ restraint and power simultaneously.
Necessity, Again, by Norwegian Stromgren, sees the company in an entirely different mode. His work demands bright characterisation and follows a clear storyline.
Cedar Lake shines as a company through its versatility and athleticism, says Rich. Its dancers come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have extensive classical training. Some, like Rich, come from a commercial background. The mix of talent gives them a formidable range.
"But whatever work we are doing, we always do it with the same artistic integrity," he says, "and with elegance and humanity."
Cedar Lake also stands out for its enviable freedom from the financial restraints other companies inevitably face. Walmart heiress Nancy Laurie founded the company in 2003 and she continues to support it, giving it access to the world's greatest choreographers and dancers.
Rich was hired as an apprentice in 2005 and appointed to the company proper a year later. "Joining Cedar Lake was a dream when I was young," he says. "It was my first company and I am still here."
What: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Where and when: The Civic, March 12-15