One of New Zealand's most influential dance choreographers was booted out of an Auckland Arts Festival show this week for booing and calling it boring.

Douglas Wright, who has been described as the godfather of contemporary dance, was at the debut of Changes, a co-production between Black Grace and Singapore's T.H.E. Dance Company at Sky City on Wednesday.

The choreographer, who this year announced his retirement, was less than pleased with the first piece, Change and Constancy, and made his feelings known by shouting "boring" in the middle of a particularly quiet, repetitive piece.

Wright, who first began his professional career with the Limbs Dance Company in 1980, followed this up with several boos during the curtain call and was subsequently asked to leave by the Auckland Arts Festival organisers.


A spokeswoman said Black Grace and the festival had no comment about the incident. But speaking to the Weekend Herald, Wright said he didn't think he was out of line.

"If I heckled all the way through then yes, ask me to leave, but I called it out once and I booed during the curtain call."

Wright, who had an extensive dance career first as a dancer with the Limbs Dance Company in the 1980s before continuing on to found his own company and work as a choreographer, said such verbal outbursts were not uncommon overseas.

"Art is there for people to decide if they like it or not, it [feedback] is how you learn and become a better artist."

He had loved it when people booed his works, he said. "I thought 'yes', we moved them, we made them angry ... I'd laugh."

He hoped people would be more open to negative feedback in the future. "My concern is that it's now mandatory to applaud whatever is put in front of us, or else."

• The clip is from Black Grace's performance at Edinburgh.

His only regret from that night was that the dancers may have thought his criticism was aimed at them.

"The dancers were wonderful, a lot of them were quite young, but I didn't mean them," he said. "It was well-performed but it was just a wallpaper dance ... I thought it was quite bland and derivative and quite boring."

Reviews of the show's opening performance have been mixed. In the Herald it was described as "contemporary dance as I've come to expect it, at times dark and moody with a narrative that is often undiscernible".

Metro's reviewer labelled it as a "remarkably uncomfortable performance", while Theatreview said it was a work in progress.