Barker teaching class at RNZB. Photo by Stephen A'Court, Courtesy RNZB.

Patricia Barker to Lead Royal New Zealand Ballet

Former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Patricia Barker has taken over as artistic director of Royal New Zealand Ballet. Barker, 54, was named to her new role in June, becoming only the second woman director in RNZB's 64-year history and the second high-profile American to take the helm in recent years (the other being former American Ballet Theatre star Ethan Stiefel).


Patricia Barker. Photo Courtesy RNZB.


With its $13-million budget, 36-dancer roster and extensive touring schedule, RNZB offers more resources and scope for Barker, who spent the past seven years as artistic director of Grand Rapids Ballet. (She will continue directing GRB for the 2017–18 season until a suitable replacement is found, running both companies concurrently.) With 2018's programming already in place, Barker has a mix of story ballet classics, works by Balanchine and Jirˇí Kylián, and new commissions on her radar for 2019.

Since RNZB tours nationally, Barker feels its repertoire should be approachable as well as innovative, and, where possible, recognize the country's Māaori heritage and embrace the spirit of New Zealand. "Some of the smaller places only see dance because we come," says Barker. Joining her there will be Barker's husband Michael Auer, also a former PNB dancer. As for moving to Wellington, Barker says: "It has a feel of home to me."

Latest Posts


Getty Images

What's Ahead for Ballet Companies in the Age of COVID-19?

Let's be frank: No one knows what's ahead for the performing arts in the U.S. With COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of nearly a year of performances so far, including many Nutcrackers, ballet companies face a daunting path ahead with no roadmap for how to survive. While schools can offer classes online or in small groups, what does the future hold for companies when it's not safe to gather large audiences or corps de ballet?

"We are in for a very hard set of months," says Michael M. Kaiser, chairman of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. "Nothing will change until there's a vaccine."

Pointe set out to find out what the new normal looks like while the virus is with us.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Revisiting Pointe's Past Cover Stars: Patricia Delgado (August/September 2010)

We revisited some of Pointe's past cover stars for their take on how life—and ballet—has changed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Sylvie Guillem and Éric Vu-An in "Mouvement, Rythme, Étude" (1985)

Sylvie Guillem and Éric Vu-An, two former leading dancers with the Paris Opéra Ballet, were both muses to Maurice Béjart. The boundary-pushing choreographer created several roles for each of them throughout their careers, including the 1985 duet "Mouvement, Rythme, Étude," when Guillem was just 20-years old and Vu-An just 21. In this excerpt from the ballet, the pair juxtapose technical brilliance and finesse with Béjart's playfully absurd post-modern movement.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks