In the latest round of "artistic director musical chairs," Royal New Zealand Ballet has announced major news: Patricia Barker has been named the company's new artistic director. Later this month, she'll replace Francesco Ventriglia. The company's first production under Barker, however, will be Ventriglia's brand-new Romeo and Juliet in August.
Barker, a former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal and current director of Grand Rapids Ballet, will bring star power and dedicated leadership experience to her new role. Still, there's a twist.
Frequent Pointe contributor Steve Sucato reported that Barker will do double duty. During the 2017–18 season, she will juggle dual titles as artistic director of both RNZB and Grand Rapids Ballet. If you're asking how that's even possible, you're not alone. Luckily, RNZB's programming was already set by Ventriglia for the coming season. The other saving grace is that the two companies are on different hemispheres: "It's nice because their [New Zealand's] summer is our winter and there will be opposite weeks of work," Barker told Sucato.
Barker's appointment isn't the first time RNZB has had an American star at the helm. Remember the Ethan Stiefel era from 2011 to 2014? Cheers to the latest chapter for this company down under.