Story: Ballet

Les sylphides and Prismatic variations

This 1963 National Film Unit footage shows two contrasting New Zealand Ballet productions. First is Les sylphides, one of the classic romantic ballets. Second is Prismatic variations, choreographed by Poul Gnatt and Russell Kerr of the New Zealand Ballet in 1959. Prismatic variations would be restaged through the 1960s, and continued to be a landmark ballet for the company. One purpose of its first season, in Auckland in 1959, was to bring together world-class New Zealand dancers who had returned from overseas. The second season, in Wellington, was intended to persuade the government to fund the company – an aim in which it succeeded. The documentary from which this footage is taken reflects the New Zealand audience's preference for romantic ballet – it includes a long section of Les sylphides and a brief one of Prismatic variations.

Using this item

Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: Ballet in New Zealand. National Film Unit, 1963

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How to cite this page:

Jennifer Shennan, 'Ballet - A national company emerges', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 July 2022)

Story by Jennifer Shennan, published 22 Oct 2014