Member, New Zealand Order of Merit, NZ Arts Foundation Laureate, Westpac/Fairfax Woman of Influence (Arts), 2015 Hynds Creative Entrepreneur of the Year
One of New Zealand’s outstanding cross platform artists, arts business developers and co-founder of The New Zealand Dance Company, Shona McCullagh is an innovative choreographer and producer for dance, theatre and film. She is also a director, dance filmmaker, teacher and interactive installation artist.
A Distinguished Graduate from the New Zealand School of Dance, McCullagh was a dancer with Sydney-based company Darc Swan in 1984, subsequently joining Limbs Dance Company, where she was a dancer, rehearsal director and choreographer from 1985 to 1988. In 1987, she performed with Douglas Wright & Dancers in New York, was a founding member of the NZ-based Douglas Wright Dance Company and became its Associate Director in 1991, touring to the London Dance Umbrella and the Holland Dance Festival.
As a choreographer over the last 35 years, McCullagh has created works ranging from short pieces to full length works, often working with NZ composers for companies such as Limbs, Footnote, Douglas Wright Dance Company, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, Southern Lights, tertiary institutes and her own company The Human Garden, which was established in 1992 and continued until 2007.
McCullagh has a long history of collaboration with other art forms, creating extensive work for theatre, television and film, including sequences for Fellowship of the Ring and King Kong. Her work for theatre has seen her creating choreography for Nightsong Productions, The Watershed Theatre, the NZ Actors Company and Auckland Theatre Company’s Equus, Sweet Charity, Cabaret, Chicago and Lysistrata. Her work Rotunda for NZDC resulted in a tour to the Holland Dance Festival and a nine-centre Australasian tour of the work, performing with live brass bands including a first ever collaboration between the military forces and contemporary dance with the NZ Army Band touring with the Company.
McCullagh has developed an international reputation as an award-winning and innovative filmmaker with all of her films being screened at the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival in France. She established the Screendance course at UNITEC’s Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts and as a recipient of CNZ’s 2004 Senior Choreographic Fellowship, she developed works integrating real-time interactive technology with live performance, resulting in a full-length work and a series of installations for Era New Horizons Festival in Poland, the Nelson Arts Festival, Splore and Taupo’s Erupt festival.
As founder and director of The Human Agency, McCullagh has conceptualised and directed many major events involving dance as a central feature such as the Steinlager Rugby Awards, the Harcourts Annual Conference and as Head Choreographer for the globally broadcast 2011 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony. She has also encouraged the careers and livelihoods of hundreds of artists through sourcing work for them via the agency.
In 2007, Shona McCullagh was an inaugural participant of the ART Venture Acceleration Programme for Creative Entrepreneurs, an initiative of the Arts Regional Trust. Attending this programme resulted in her decision to assist the growth of the NZ dance industry by establishing The New Zealand Dance Company in 2011.
Stephen Shropshire is a choreographer, curator, and independent dance researcher. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York City and holds an MA in Arts and Heritage from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.
Shropshire is actively engaged in the cultural discourse on dance through the continued exploration of work that challenges aesthetic, structural, and narrative assumptions and responds to the broader socio-political themes that are relevant to our time. His choreographies are distinguished by their compositional dexterity, musical sensibility, and athletic, virtuosic movement language.
Between 2009 to 2012, Shropshire was the artistic director of Noord Nederlandse Dans in the Netherlands. In 2016, his foundation was established to facilitate the ongoing development and presentation of new choreographic work. In 2017, Shropshire was awarded a special honour prize from the Dansersfonds ’79 for the ‘consistent aesthetic harmony in his work’ and, in 2018, his choreography We Are Nowhere Else But Here was nominated for the VSCD ‘Zwan’ for the most impressive dance performance of 2017.
> Ngāi Tahu
Louise Potiki Bryant is a Ngāi Tahu choreographer, dancer, and video artist. With her practice Potiki Bryant aims to honour her whakapapa (genealogy), kaupapa Māori (Māori principles and practices), mana wahine (the intrinsic spiritual power of women), and our relationship with te taiao (environment). She is a founding member of Atamira Dance Company for whom she has choreographed six works, including Ngāi Tahu 32, Te Aroha me te mamae, TAONGA: Dust Water Wind and Onepū. Potiki Bryant has also choreographed for companies such as The New Zealand Dance Company, Black Grace Dance Company, and Ōrotokare: Art, Story, Motion.
Potiki Bryant also has a body of solo and collaborative works which draw upon her whakaahua and interdisciplinary practices. These works include Nohopuku (‘Stand‑out Performer’ award, the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2010), Tumutumu, a collaboration with taonga pūoro authority Dr Richard Nunns (awarded ‘the most innovative choreography’ at Kowhiti Dance 2011) and the acclaimed work Kiri, a collaboration with clay artist Paerau Corneal. Her latest solo work Ngaro is a collaboration with multi-media artists Rona Ngahuia Osborne and Paddy Free. Both Kiri and Ngaro have been the Tuakana works to open the Tempo Dance Festival.
In 2014, Potiki Bryant was awarded the Harriet Friedlander Residency by the Arts Foundation, which supported Louise to live in New York City for a period of choreographic and artistic inspiration. Other residencies include the Ngāi Tahu Artist in Residence at the Dunedin School of Art, and a Wild Creations Residency. In 2009, she was supported by Creative New Zealand to undertake a choreographic internship with multidisciplinary artist Santee Smith, the founding and managing artistic director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.
Potiki Bryant designs installations for her own dance works, and is often responsible for the design, production and editing of the projected video elements – an integral part of each performance. Her video art practice also includes the creation of dance films, video installations and music videos as well as designing video for music events, operas and contemporary dance productions. Her recent work has included the video design for three of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s productions; Re-Quickening, Blood Tides and the solo work Blood Water Earth by Santee Smith. Louise Potiki Bryant also collaborated with Santee to develop the Blood Water Earth three-channel video installation, which premiered at the Auckland Arts Festival 2019 at Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery.
KIM Jae Duk is known as a choreographer who appreciates movement-oriented expressions and setting aside the narrative structure. Currently, he serves as a resident choreographer at T.H.E Dance Company in Singapore as well as the artistic director of Modern Table Dance Company. Calling himself as an ‘expresser’ rather than a choreographer, he produces synesthetic performances that focus on the harmony between dance and music that he composes and directs.
In 2017, he was selected as Choreographer of the Year by the Dancers’ Career Development Center and continues to actively pursue his career basing his distinctive works on his Korean style, the style that first appealed to the overseas market where he has been invited to perform at prestigious venues. He participated as a supervisor representing Korea at ‘Camping éte’ held by the Centre National de la Danse (CND) in Paris, France. He has also been invited to choreograph and compose music by the following dance companies: Balé da Cidade de São Paulo (NAK-TA), Balé Teatro Castro Alves in Salvador, Brazil (RUB-DUB), Curitiba Municipal Ballet, Brazil (Super Natural), Companhia de Dança de Diadema, Brazil (Força Fluida), Compañia Nacional de Danza Contemporanea (Tension Espatial) D.F.W (Dancers for the World) in Basel, Switzertand (HA-KI), T.H.E Dance Company in Singapore (10 pieces including Mr. Sign), The New Zealand Dance Company (Sigan), and the Hong Kong City Contemporary Dance Company (Jang-dan).
> Te Arawa
The Geography of an Archipelago, Sigan, In Transit
Chrissy Kokiri’s interest in contemporary dance began in her final year of high school dance. From there she studied full-time at Unitec, completing her final year of the Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts degree in 2013. In 2014, she seconded with NZDC and went on to perform in the premiere season of Rotunda in Auckland, going on to tour with the company to the Holland Dance Festival followed by the Language of Living New Zealand tour. Over two years, Kokiri also worked with Okareka Dance Company, developing the work Mana Wahine and then going on to tour the work around New Zealand in 2014.
Kokiri has been performing exclusively with The New Zealand Dance Company for the last five years in premieres and tours of Rotunda, as a part of an Australasian Tour; Lumina in its premiere season and on tours around New Zealand and Europe; The Absurdity of Humanity in its premiere season and tour across New Zealand; Trolleys in its premiere; Kiss The Sky in its premiere; and finally as Eurydice in the premiere of Michael Parmenter’s OrphEus – a dance opera. 2019 is her sixth year with NZDC and has seen her tour New Zealand in Kiss The Sky and most recently Matariki for Tamariki.
The Geography of an Archipelago, Sigan, In Transit
Carl Tolentino began full-time dance training at the Queensland Dance School of Excellence (QDSE) in 2006. After attaining a Diploma in Dance Performance and the QDSE Special Performer Award in 2007, he was accepted into the New Zealand School of Dance in 2008. There, he worked with leading choreographers and during his final year performed Malia Johnston’s Body Fight Time with Footnote Dance Company, which toured to Wellington and Auckland. After graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in 2011, Tolentino performed the next few years with Black Grace, Okareka Dance, at the World of Wearable Art, alongside Vicki Van Hout on her work Long Grass for Sadler’s Wells, in Lewis Major’s Glasshouses, and worked with Shaun Parker and Company on Am I, which premiered in the 2014 Sydney Festival.
Tolentino began working with The New Zealand Dance Company in 2013 and has performed in the premiere season of Rotunda and its tours to the Holland Dance Festival and Australia; the Language of Living national tour; Lumina in its premiere season and tours across New Zealand and Europe; The Absurdity of Humanity in its premiere season and tour across New Zealand; the NZ premiere of Trolleys; Kiss The Sky and the role of Orpheus in the premiere of Michael Parmenter’s OrphEus – a dance opera. 2019 is Carl’s seventh year with NZDC and has seen him tour New Zealand in Kiss The Sky and most recently in the premiere of Matariki for Tamariki.
The Geography of an Archipelago, Sigan, In Transit
Katie Rudd grew up in New Plymouth, with her dance training beginning at the Lynn Gilbert-Smith Dance Studio. She commenced her formal training at New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) in 2011, and graduated as a contemporary major in 2013. During her studies she worked with a number of guest tutors and choreographers and enjoyed performing in the World of Wearable Art, The Body Festival and Tempo Dance Festival. As part of NZSD’s Choreographic Season, Rudd choreographed her first short work titled Mark and performed in New Caledonia at Festival du Mont-Dore in a new creation by Thierry Bain in collaboration with Compagnie MAADO.
Rudd made her professional debut with The New Zealand Dance Company in 2014 in Rotunda at the Holland Dance Festival, followed by a national tour of Language of Living. 2015 began with an Australasian tour of Rotunda and included the Lumina premiere season, followed by tours to Holland and Germany. In 2016, she performed in the premiere of The Absurdity of Humanity and Trolleys as she began working with the company as a full-time dancer. In 2017, she performed with NZDC in the premiere of Kiss The Sky in Auckland and on a national tour of The Absurdity of Humanity. In 2018, Rudd performed in the premiere of OrphEus – a dance opera by Michael Parmenter and toured nationally as well as internationally with the company. 2019 is Katie’s sixth year with the NZDC and has seen her tour New Zealand in Kiss The Sky and premiere Matariki for Tamariki.
The Geography of an Archipelago, Sigan, In Transit
Xin Li started his dance career as a young boy followed by studying fulltime for five years at the Beijing Dance Academy. Upon graduation, Ji was offered a position in Japan with Shiki Theatre Company and performed roles in well-known musicals – most notably Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats. After five years of touring, Ji wanted to develop his skills in contemporary dance and chose to study at Auckland’s UNITEC. During his study, he was invited to perform at the World of Wearable Art in Wellington two years in a row and was chosen to represent UNITEC in China to perform a work created by Michael Parmenter for the 60th anniversary of the Beijing Dance Academy.
After Ji graduated from UNITEC, he began working with leading contemporary dance companies including Footnote in Wellington, Okareka, Muscle Mouth and Movement of The Human. In 2015, he held his first contract with The New Zealand Dance Company performing in the premiere season of Lumina in Auckland, followed by tours to Germany and Holland; the 2016 premiere season of The Absurdity of Humanity; the 2016 NZ premiere of Trolleys; the 2017 premiere of Kiss The Sky; the 2017 national tour of The Absurdity of Humanity; the 2018 national and international season of Lumina and toured to Belgium and Luxembourg for the Time tour. 2019 is Xin Ji’s fifth year with the New Zealand Dance Company where he was a part of the national tour for Kiss The Sky.
> Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tuwharetoa
In Transit; understudy for Sigan and The Geography of an Archipelago
Ngaere Jenkins grew up in Wellington and began her training at Step Out Dance Company and Wellington Dance Academy under the direction of Paula Hunt. In 2015, she won the National Young Performer of the Year Award and the New Zealand Association of Modern Dance scholarship. From there she studied full-time at the New Zealand School of Dance and was recipient of the Katrina Todd Scholarship in 2017 and 2018. While studying, Jenkins performed with Atamira Dance Company in the 2017 Kia Mau Festival and in the World of Wearable Art Shows. She was also selected to represent the school as a guest artist in Tahiti at the Académie de Danse Annie Fayn 5th International Dance Festival and then in Singapore at the Singapore Ballet Academy’s Diamond Jubilee Gala.
During her study, Jenkins is grateful to have worked with many influential choreographers, including James O’Hara, Damien Jalet, Sih-Wei Lou, Sarah Foster-Sproull, Malia Johnston, Michael Parmenter, Gabby Thomas, Taane Mete, Taiaroa Royal, Victoria Colombus and Tanemahuta Gray. Upon graduation at the end of 2018, Ngaere was offered a full-time contract withThe New Zealand Dance Company.
> Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Waewae
The Geography of an Archipelago, Sigan; understudy for In Transit
Toa Paranihi is a freelance contemporary/hip-hop dancer from Wellington. He graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 2017 and since then he has performed nationally and internationally in both the contemporary and hip-hop industry. Paranihi has worked with multiple artists and companies in New Zealand as well as co-creating with Connor Masseurs and touring internationally their show Blueprint, which debuted in the 2018 Wellington Fringe Festival. Paranihi frequently travels to China and performs as a backup dancer for Taiwanese pop star Jolin Tsai and Canadian-Chinese singer Kris Wu.