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50 Years On Their Toes

Television (Full Length) – 2003

This documentary goes behind the scenes of the Royal NZ Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet, as the company turns 50 — a milestone it nearly didn't make. British choreographer Chris Hampson and his cast battle nerves and last minute injuries, as they prepare the ballet for opening night at Wellington's St James Theatre. Interviews include former dancers and and ex-artistic director Harry Haythorne, who faced a financial black hole in the 1980s. Meanwhile veteran dancer Jon Trimmer and his partner Jacqui remember RNZB's DIY beginnings in the 1950s, under its "terrifying" but charismatic founder Poul Gnatt.

Injury is an occupational hazard for a dancer whether they're fighting or not; I think classical ballet is more dangerous than stage combat, frankly.
– Choreographer Chris Hampson on dancers performing fight stunts onstage

Acknowledgements

Made with funding from NZ On Air