photo: Celia Walmsley
'The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s ‘dream team’ of choreographer Loughlan Prior and composer Claire Cowan return with their largest and most ambitious project to date....
Developed collaboratively with set, costume and visual effects partners Emma Kingsbury and POW Studios Cinderella is cohesive, holistically crafted, and resoundingly spectacular.'
Brigitte Knight, stuff.co.nz
'(Woman of Words) at once profoundly cerebral, unflinchingly erotic, exquisitely artistic and brutally dramatic, this Royal New Zealand ballet left me stunned by its emotional depth, by its precisely eloquent voice-over excerpts of her thoughts and by the magnitude of the work’s psychological exploration.'
Mona Williams, Theatre Review
'Mansfield's literary life turned into exquisite ballet. Full kudos to choreographer Loughlan Prior and the Royal New Zealand Ballet for nailing this outstanding tribute to Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand’s trail-blazing maverick for women and for literature.'
Nigel Zega, Otago Daily Times
'Cinderella is beautiful chaos. From the grace and professionality of the dancers, to the shine of the set, the costumes and the digital projection, time and effort has clearly been put into making this piece revolutionary.'
Emma Maguire, The Wellingtonista
'Cleverly integrating music, digital animation and lighting it is a lively piece which shows off the excellence of the dancers.'
Deborah Weiss, Dancing Times, August 2022 on The Appearance of Colour.
'Prior’s choreography is energetic, using the vocabulary of classical ballet in fast-moving, contemporary manner that particularly favours the group’s impressive men.'
Teresa Guerrero, Culture Whisper
'Prior captures the desperation in choreography that is daring and frighteningly honest. The Firebird has it all, theatre magic, memorable performances and the most important message of our times.'
Maggie Foyer, Seeing Dance
'There is no exaggeration when we say, ‘If you can only see one ballet this year, make it The Firebird — if we gave star ratings, this was a deserved 10 out of 10.'
Jack Yan, Lucire
'Loughlan Prior choreographs meticulously to the music, using the dynamic shifts and changes as a scaffold for his innovative storytelling. Brave, innovative and welcome.'
Lynn Pringle, The Dominion Post
'Developing as a signature amongst his diverse and prolific works, Prior’s creativity is matched by the intelligence of his approach to concept, musical interpretation and movement vocabulary.'
Brigitte Knight, Theatre Scenes
'The Royal New Zealand Ballet finally managed to showcase Ultra Violet, a Loughlan Prior choreography initially slated to open at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden but halted by Covid-19. London’s loss was Wanaka’s gain, as a breathtaking piece explored how some non-human species see the world literally in a different light. Dancers fittingly flitted moth-like through light and shade, bare arms and legs flashing in the cool blue light of night as they paired and parted in delicate dream-like sequences set to Claire Cowan’s ethereal compositions. Every move seemed effortless, despite the difficult lifts and exacting precision required, particularly in group work. Otherworldly, complex, delightful, exquisite and memorable.'
Nigel Zega, Otago Daily Times.
'A definitive and unique style that reflects a contemporary ethos is definitely apparent in the performance of Loughlan Prior’s Subtle Dances, a work reflecting the rituals of courtship and touching on the ambivalence of gender fluidity.'
Jenny Stevenson, Theatre Review
'Hansel and Gretel is a wonderful production with imaginative choreography and a creative team at the top of their game.'
Lyne Pringle, The Dominion Post
'From the moment it opens, Hansel & Gretel is a rich and delightful production.'
Brigitte Knight, Theatre Scenes
'Hansel & Gretel is a true return to form for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and its best holiday-season ballet in years.'
Jack Yan, Lucire
'The movement becomes lively and crisp as a riot of colour floods the space – the dancers running across en masse to the rhythmic, orchestral score. Engaging all the senses, The Appearance of Colour was a stunning start to the programme.'
Denise Richardson, Dance Australia
'Lark proved a masterwork. There’s little surprise in that since Prior has already earned considerable choreographic kudos. 78 year-old Trimmer’s presence on stage, before he even moves a muscle, reeks with the authenticity of a performer who deeply knows how dance works.'
Jennifer Shennan, Michelle Potter… On Dancing
'The subtle ‘physical calligraphy’ of Verse said it all, the choreography embroidering on Junior’s fluid torso and arms while stretching his steely legs to the limit." Maggie Foyer, Dance Europe
'Prior's Eve was a series of polished vignettes involving extreme geometries of the limbs and innovative partnering, exploring the power of temptation and the struggle for redemption. The dancing, set to soaring operatic excerpts, solo piano and spoken poetry, created an aura of elegance and refinement.'
Raewyn White, New Zealand Herald
'It’s difficult to classify Loughlan Prior’s Curious Alchemy. Its rigid formality and speedy limbs suggests classical discipline, but it feels like a contemporary dance piece. Whatever it is, It’s enjoyable to watch and its complex partnering was executed with precision and confidence by both couples.'
Gerard Davis, Dance Europe
'Scribble, which Loughlan Prior choreographed and directed remotely from New Zealand, experiments with animation. As dancers move in a black void, their figures are traced in bright lines — hand-drawn by the artist Glynn Urquhart.'
The New York Times
Loughlan's video links can be viewed here
Described by Dance Aotearoa New Zealand as ‘a creative tour de force’, Loughlan Prior is an award-winning choreographer and creative director working between stage and screen. He is the co-artistic director of Lo | Co Arts and Choreographer in Residence at the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB).
Following his training at the Victorian College of the Arts and New Zealand School of Dance, Loughlan joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2010 and rose to the rank of Soloist, performing landmark works by Forsythe, Balanchine, Kylián, Cranko and Ekman.
Establishing himself as an emerging voice in 2015, he became the first recipient of the Ballet Foundation of New Zealand’s Harry Haythorne Choreographic Award, and in 2016 received Creative New Zealand’s Tup Lang Award, travelling to Toronto to stage his work at the Assemblée Internationale. Loughlan was appointed RNZB Choreographer in Residence in 2018 and founded Lo | Co Arts, an ensemble of multi-disciplinary artists, in 2019 with composer and co-director Claire Cowan.
Prior’s cinematic and unifying approach to music, choreography, concept and visual storytelling is a key feature within his works. Notable productions include Hansel & Gretel (2019, RNZB), The Appearance of Colour (2019, Queensland Ballet), Transfigured Night (2021, Chamber MusicNZ, BalletCollective Aotearoa), The Firebird (2021, RNZB), Cinderella (2022, RNZB), Half | Life (2022 Lo | Co Arts), The Sound was our Ocean (2022, Singapore Ballet) and Inklings (2022, Ballet Unleashed - an online creation with Australian Ballet School, New Zealand School of Dance, Canada’s National Ballet School, The Ailey School).
Under the umbrella PriorVisual, Loughlan has produced a number of dance/art films which have enjoyed screenings at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, New Zealand International Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center, BalletX Beyond, #60secondsdance Denmark and the Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival.
In Spring, 2023 Loughlan was commissioned by Royal New Zealand Ballet and Wānaka's Festival of Colour to create Woman of Words, a new one-act ballet celebrating the life of the infamous New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield. He is also adapting the beloved Australian children's story Possum Magic for the stage. The Royal New Zealand Ballet will tour his acclaimed production of Hansel & Gretel across the country for Christmas 2023. Hansel and Gretel will enter the repertoire of Canada's Alberta Ballet in 2024.