Story: Ballet

Set building, 1953 (1st of 3)

Set building, 1953

For many years the New Zealand Ballet ran on a shoestring. This 1953 photo shows founder Poul Gnatt making a set in his backyard in Sandringham, Auckland, for the first performances he directed in New Zealand. The dancers came from a school run by Auckland ballet teachers Bettina Edwards and Beryl Nettleton, and use of the theatres was without charge, courtesy of theatre entrepreneur Robert Kerridge. The season was funded in part by a bottle drive (a door-to-door collection of glass bottles, which could be returned to dairies for a very small amount of cash), and sponsored by the local Light Opera Club. Around this time, Gnatt was driving a taxi at night to support his young family.

Using this item

Royal New Zealand Ballet

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Jennifer Shennan, 'Ballet - A national company emerges', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 February 2024)

Story by Jennifer Shennan, published 22 Oct 2014