Dancer has big shoes to fill

Dancers perform in Loughlan Prior’s The Long and Short of It. Photo: Supplied
Dancers perform in Loughlan Prior’s The Long and Short of It. Photo: Supplied
When Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer Loughlan Prior steps out on to the stage in Oamaru, it will be the first time he has danced in one of his own works.

"It’ll be a world premier of sorts."

Mr Prior will be dancing the lead in The Long and Short of It, one of the three pieces being performed as part of the Tutus on Tour roadshow hitting town this month.

The work was created by the Australian-born, Wellington-based dancer, who has a passion for choreography, as a tribute to veteran dancer Sir Jon Trimmer.

The idea was to create something "really special" for Sir Jon’s 60th year on stage, involving a young dancer and the veteran.

"It started out as a duet but I’ve expanded it to make a larger work celebrating exuberance and not taking things too seriously."

It aimed to show people are never too old to go out and dance.

Sir Jon was an inspiration to Mr Prior, who was  cast as understudy to Sir Jon’s Dr Coppelius in Coppelia (2014).

"I learned a lot from him. He has a remarkable wealth of knowledge and experience, so creating this work was very special and so much fun."

However, Sir Jon cannot make the Oamaru show, so Mr Prior (30) will be stepping into his big shoes.

"It’ll take on a different life. I’ll have to completely revamp this version, because there won’t be such an age difference."

Mr Prior, who is RNZB’s choreographer in residence, found it interesting how  a work changes depending on the dancer.

"It affects the work in interesting ways. I’m excited about that."

So instead of  Sir Jon day-dreaming of a place filled with colourful and mischievous characters, it will be Mr Prior. Fellow dancer Luke Cooper will join in him in the duet.

"We’re closer in age and good mates."

Mr Prior has always wanted to be a choreographer so takes every opportunity to create work.

"It’s very much where I see myself in the future."

His work had  been performed around the world - he had missed out on the premier of one of his works in Germany for RNZB’s Dancing with Mozart season.

"I’m devastated not to be there, but you can’t be in two places at once."


See it

Tutus on Tour, Oamaru Opera House, June 17; Class On Stage: Oamaru Opera House, June 17, 1.30pm. 

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