Royal New Zealand Ballet was formed in 1953 by Danish Royal
Ballet Principal Dancer Poul Gnatt. The company's early days of
touring embodied the New Zealand pioneering spirit. Performing
night in night out, company members unloaded and repacked the set,
rigged the lights and ironed the costumes, with local community
members providing accommodation.
The spirit of those days survives, and the support of the New
Zealand public remains. Royal New Zealand Ballet is seen as
an intrinsic part of the country's national heritage, and has the
largest following of all New Zealand performing arts companies.
Royal New Zealand Ballet today has developed a reputation for
strong characterisation in the staging of full-length dramatic
works, which became a hallmark in the 1980s. To this base have been
added the masterworks and major ballets of the 20th century, such
as Balanchine's works and the Stravinsky ballets.
In January 1998, Royal New Zealand Ballet moved to its
first ever permanent purpose built premises at Wellington's Westpac
St James Theatre (now the St James Theatre).