Find out what’s happening in New Zealand dance news!

Sir Jon Trimmer. Photo courtesy of Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Sir Jon Trimmer. Photo courtesy of Royal New Zealand Ballet.

On 26 October, Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) beloved Leading Artist Sir Jon Trimmer KNZM MBE passed away. Trimmer was associated with RNZB for almost 60 years, as a principal dancer, teacher, director and infinitely more. For tens of thousands of New Zealanders, seeing Trimmer onstage was the start of a lifelong love of dance. For the artists, choreographers and crew who worked with him, he was a mentor, a teacher and an inspiration. In a statement, RNZB said, “There will be much more to say, in mourning and in celebration of a long life lived with passion, vigor and a steadfast joy in sharing the magic of dance, but, for now, we send our love to everyone who loved him.” A date for a memorial event for Trimmer will be announced soon.

After seven years with RNZB, Principal Sara Garbowski is set to retire at the conclusion of the company’s 2023 Season, finishing with leading roles in Hansel & Gretel. Garbowski, who was born and trained in Canada, and began her career at the National Ballet of Canada before spending seven years with the Royal Ballet of Flanders, moved to New Zealand to join RNZB in 2017. She was promoted to Soloist in 2019, and Principal in 2021. “After more than 15 years, I have decided it is time to retire from my career as a professional ballet dancer and begin a new chapter,” Garbowski says. “I feel very fulfilled with what I have accomplished over these years. I have amazing memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life and have been able to see so much of the world from dancing in Canada, France, Belgium, and New Zealand. Being able to spend the last seven years dancing with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and my final three years as Principal dancer is something I am so proud of. It has been an honour to dance ballet at the highest level in this beautiful country. I am very grateful to all the dancers, staff, and directors I have had over these years who have supported me through it all. There are so many incredible people in this organization that have made such a big impact on my years at RNZB.”

RNZB Principal Sara Garbowski with Damani Campbell Williams in 'Giselle'. Photo by Stephen A'Court.
RNZB Principal Sara Garbowski with Damani Campbell Williams in ‘Giselle’. Photo by Stephen A’Court.

RNZB Acting Artistic Director David McAllister AC says, ‘It has been such a pleasure to have Sara’s artistry and talent illuminating performances during her time with the RNZB. Her dedication and professionalism have been an inspiration to all who have worked with her, and we will miss her unique qualities in the many ballets that she made her own.”

RNZB’s tour of Hansel & Gretel runs through 9 December. For tickets and more information, visit

RNZB’s ever-popular Tutus on Tour returns to regional theatres throughout Aotearoa, from 23 February to 16 March, to mark the end of summer and the start of a brand new year of ballet-going. Dance lovers of all ages can look forward to a programme which celebrates classical favourites and virtuoso ballet technique as well as offering a timely tribute to one of the RNZB’s founding fathers. As a prelude to 2024’s major revival, Tutus on Tour will feature excerpts from Russell Kerr’s beautiful production of Swan Lake, in the dazzling designs created by Kristian Fredrikson in 1996. Complementing the classical splendour of Swan Lake is Choreographer in Residence Shaun James Kelly’s Prismatic, inspired by Russell Kerr’s landmark Prismatic Variations, set to the music of Johannes Brahms. Rounding out the programme is Clay by Alice Topp, the mesmerising, emotionally charged pas de deux. Tickets go on sale 4 December. For more, visit

NZSD Summer Intensive 2023. Photo by James Burchell.
NZSD Summer Intensive 2023. Photo by James Burchell.

The New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) is thrilled to announce that registrations for the NZSD Summer Intensive 2024 are open. Click here to sign up today. The NZSD Summer Intensive 2024 is a unique opportunity for young dancers aged 12-17 to experience the highest levels of training in classical ballet and contemporary dance from the School’s renowned teaching staff and guest tutors. The intensive will be held 23 – 26 January 2024, at Te Whaea – National Dance and Drama Centre. Register early to avoid disappointment. For more information, visit

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

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