A New Zealand Ballet
To the Wellington City Ballet goes the honour of being the company to produce the first completely all New Zealand two-act ballet. This was Children of the Mist, based on an adaptation of Maori legend by Leigh Brewer and James Carney, with choreography by Leigh Brewer, costumes and decor by Harry Baker, and original music by Christopher Small. The ballet proved highly successful at the box office and the music has since been recorded by the National Orchestra and broadcast on occasions.
Although Children of the Mist was a New Zealand “first” in many respects, it was not the first time music had been composed by a New Zealander for ballet. The honour for this goes to Alfred Hill who in 1908 composed special music for Canoe and War Cry, two ballets which were included in his Maori opera Tapu.
While, in a professional sense, ballet in New Zealand is a young art, many New Zealanders have already made their mark overseas as dancers. Three–Rowena Jackson, Alex. Grant, and Bryan Ashbridge, of Royal Ballet fame–have attained international status. Undoubtedly they have acted as an example and inspiration to hundreds of aspiring dancers, while others, such as Jonet Wilkie, Pauline Jones, Anne Rowse, Gloria Young, Russell Kerr, and Graeme Pickering, have attained soloist status with such well known companies as the Festival Ballet and the now defunct Borovansky Ballet.
by John James Carney, Chairman, Wellington City Ballet.