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Paired for the national tour with the dazzling Russian classic Paquita, The Firebird will reach the Regent Theatre on August 21.
Following the triumph of his Hansel and Gretel in 2019, Prior was invited by RNZB artistic director Patricia Barker to create a new production with fresh ideas for the fantastical fairy tale set in a mystical world.
"How we treat one another and how we care about the world for the next generations is at the forefront of our new production," Barker said.
"Loughlan has dived into the world of The Firebird and the magic of Stravinsky’s score, and has created a work that brings us closer to our own humanity."
First staged in Paris in 1910, The Firebird changed the direction of ballet and catapulted Igor Stravinsky to star status.
Together with designer Tracy Grant Lord, Prior creates a narrative in which the natural world is threatened and humanity is staring into the abyss of extinction.
Captured, the firebird — a fertility goddess with magical powers — offers the possibility of redemption, if only humankind is brave enough to follow her.
"The Firebird draws on the beauty of the earth at its most elemental, the vastness of the cosmos and the impact — both good and evil — of humans on our precious world," Prior said.
Generations of choreographers have been inspired by the elemental power of Stravinsky’s music, and by the firebird herself — a timeless, untamable force.
The RNZB has paired The Firebird with the Russian classic Paquita — two very different kinds of ballet.
First staged in 1846, Paquita is a scintillating romp in which the dancers’ classical techniques take centre stage.
This one-act version features sparkling tutus inspired by Russian master jeweller Faberge, fleet footwork, soaring leaps, turns like spinning tops and a finale which leaves the audience as breathless and exhilarated as the dancers themselves.