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The Royal New Zealand Ballet is celebrating a few ‘firsts’ with their brand new production of Hansel & Gretel.

It’s the first full length production for RNZB Choreographer in Residence Loughlan Prior. It features a special new score by Claire Cowan, the first female composer commissioned to write a full-length ballet for the national ballet company. And this is the first professional ballet that Kate Hawley, one of Hollywood’s most original and sought-after designers, has ever worked on.

Kate is the creative force behind the set and costume design. With inspiration drawn from silent film and music hall vaudeville, Hansel and Gretel features old-fashioned theatrical magic as well as 21stcentury technology and promises to transport audiences to a ‘dark, fantastical realm.’

Hansel and Gretel’ costume design sketches by Kate Hawley

A concept artist and costume designer, Kate attended Samuel Marsden Collegiate School before completing a diploma in visual communication design at Massey University’s Wellington School of Design. In 1996 she received a Television New Zealand Scholarship, and assistance from Wellington City Opera, to study at The Motley School of Theatre Design in London. Only ten people world-wide are accepted into the exclusive course each year.

Kate’s extensive theatre and opera credits include productions for the New Zealand International Arts Festival, NBR New Zealand Opera, and Auckland Theatre Company. But she’s better known for her work with Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro. Her film credits include Crimson Peak, Mortal Engines, The Hobbit and Suicide Squad. Her costumes have been presented at numerous exhibitions and her design work for Crimson Peak gained her nominations for four different costume awards.

Kate Hawley (second from left) with RNZB Executive Director Lester McGrath, Choreographer Loughlan Prior and Artistic Director Patricia Barker.
(Photo by Elias Rodriguez)

RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker was thrilled to meet Kate Hawley: ‘I’m a huge fan of her work in Crimson Peak and so many other films. What an incredible individual with an enormous amount of talent, artistry and personality, I knew she would bring a brilliance to the design of Hansel & Gretel.

Hansel & Gretel premieres in Wellington on 6 November and tours New Zealand until Christmas visiting Palmerston North, Napier, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Auckland and Takapuna.

RNZB Dancer Kirby Selchow and Soloist Shaun James Kelly
(Image by Nicola Edmonds)
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