A bigger stage beckons
A Palmerston North man on the cusp of a dancing career says touring with the Royal New Zealand Ballet is helping make his dream become a reality.
Luke Cooper, 18, is in his third and final year at the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) and he is one of four students from the school who are dancing in The Wizard of Oz.
He said it was an amazing experience.
‘‘It is very cool. It’s been me at the RNZB 24/7, my whole life has shifted up here. We are totally part of it.’’
The ballet is touring for six weeks and has four casts.
Cooper performs the matinees and school performances and dances the parts of a flying monkey and an Emerald City dancer.
The flying monkey role has been particularly tricky for Cooper, who has to wear a long skirt and a black hood that present a challenge.
‘‘It is difficult, but I am lucky because I share with somebody from the first cast and he is a little bit shorter than I am so it is a little bit further off the floor. The mask is an added complication but it’s good. Challenge is good.’’
Cooper started dancing when he was five with Amy MacDonald and then moved to Michelle Robinson in his final years as preparation for the NZSD.
‘‘It was really good to have them both, it gave me so much more having had two different teachers. Amy gave me my basis and Michelle really got me ready to audition for school.’’
He danced with the RNZB last year in Don Quixote and said he would love to join the company when he graduates.
But he understands that it depends on what the company is looking for at the time.
‘‘I would love to travel around with the RNZB. I really like this company. I’d really like to work with them but it may not be on the cards.
‘‘Hopefully there is a ballet company somewhere for me.’’
The RNZB’s artistic director Francesco Ventriglia has been developing the relationship with the company and the school since he came on board in 2014 and he said having students on stage is real on the job training.
‘‘After they graduate it means they will be ready to dance with us and that is an incredibly good thing and that is something that we have to take care of.’’
The RNZB’s tour of The Wizard of Oz runs until June 16 with a performance at Palmerston North’s Regent on Broadway on June 9.
Palmerston North dancer Luke Cooper in rehearsal for the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of The Wizard of Oz.