Starting this Friday, April 3, the Royal New Zealand Ballet will offer free broadcasts of recent performances via Facebook Premiere.
First up will be Christmas 2019's acclaimed production of Hansel & Gretel, choreographed by Loughlan Prior, with an original score by Claire Cowan, designs by Kate Hawley, lighting by Jon Buswell and visual effects by POW Studios, filmed live onstage at the Opera House in Wellington in November last year.
The cast includes Kirby Selchow and Shaun James Kelly in the title roles, Katharine Precourt as The Ice Cream Witch and Paul Mathews as her monstrous alter ego, The Witch Transformed.
Nadia Yanowsky and Joseph Skelton play Hansel and Gretel's loving but impoverished parents, Nathan Mennis portrays the otherworldly Sand Man and Allister Madin and Mayu Tanigaito dazzle as the King and Queen of the Dew Fairies. Orchestra Wellington are in the pit, under the baton of conductor Hamish McKeich.
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The production will be broadcast three times over the weekend to enable audiences of all ages to enjoy performances: Friday, April 3, at 7.30pm; Saturday, April 4, at 1.30pm and Sunday, April 5, at 10.30am. The performance lasts one hour and 45 minutes, plus a brief interval between the two acts to make a cup of coffee and grab a slice of gingerbread.
"Last year, audiences around New Zealand fell in love with our zany production of Hansel and Gretel," said RNZB artistic director Patricia Barker. "Being faced with so much uncertainty as we are glued to our televisions for any good news, we at the RNZB thought we could all use a little extra sweetness and pick-me-up.
"We are so pleased to be able to share this special ballet, 100 per cent made in New Zealand, with audiences again. Stay tuned for further announcements.
"We have an amazingly loyal following on Facebook, and they are already used to tuning in to live-streamed events such as our annual participation in World Ballet Day," says executive director Lester McGrath.
"However, you don't need to have a Facebook account in order to enjoy these broadcasts. We encourage anyone and everyone with internet access to make the most of this great opportunity to connect with their national ballet company."
Alongside full productions, RNZB Education is putting together a wealth of digital resources for people of all ages staying at home.
The company's NCEA resources are available online, while the Ballet Masters and Dance Educators are developing online classes for the young and young at heart, online workshops for primary and secondary schools and balletic exercises for seniors, including dance moves and exercises which can be done sitting down. Keep an eye on rnzb.org.nz and social media for news and links.
Full details, including broadcast times and links, can be found at rnzb.org.nz/live.