She didn’t know it at the time, but there were two special people at Wellington’s St James Theatre for the New Zealand School of Dance’s 50th anniversary graduation performance watching Tauranga’s Olivia Moore. And it would lead to a big career break for the 16-year-old.
One of those people was Nina Levy of Dance Australia, who would write of Olivia: “Sir Kenneth Macmillian’s Concerto Pas de Deux is no mean feat even for the most seasoned performers, with technically complex partnering that moves off and on balance. First year student Olivia Moore performed these difficult manoeuvres with calm maturity.”
Perhaps a more significant critical eye was that of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s artistic director, Patricia Barker.
“Olivia’s level of technique and maturity was enchanting. She is a talented young dancer with tremendous potential which we are excited to nurture as she develops into a beautiful artist.”
And she will get that nurturing because, as a result of that performance, Olivia Moore was offered a full-time contract with the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
“She will be a wonderful addition to the RNZB,” says Patricia Barker, “and someone to keep an eye on for years to come.”
“We certainly didn’t see that coming,” says Olivia’s delighted mum, Kat. “We were all surprised and amazed. This has obviously been a dream, so it’s pretty massive for her.”
Olivia had been studying at the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington last year. The school opens doors and opportunities to aspiring young dancers, providing training for the dance profession.
However, Olivia’s been out of the country while her career was taking off. “She’s in Toronto right now,” says Kat. “She’s on a scholarship from the school of dance to train at the Canadian National Ballet for a month. But as soon as she lands back in the country, she will be taking up with the Royal New Zealand Ballet.”
When The Weekend Sun spoke to Olivia at home in Matua a little over a year ago, she was just headed off to the School of Dance. The talented and focused teenager had clear cut ambition. “I would like to be principal dancer for the Royal New Zealand Ballet,” she said. Well, she now has her foot in the door. The principal role is in sight, although off in the distance.
Before she went to Wellington Olivia would be at the Dance Education Centre in Tauranga before 8am. And she would be back at the studio after school for another four hours. Six hours of ballet a day, woven around school, Monday to Friday, and three hours on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a discipline that demands commitment.
“She has worked hard at dance all through her childhood years,” says Kat, “and she has made considerable sacrifices to get where she has got.”
Even at Dance School in Wellington, the teenager was weaving her ballet around schoolwork with the Te Kura correspondence school.
“With ballet, I can be myself,” Olivia told The Weekend Sun. “I can express myself.”
“The Royal New Zealand Ballet has been her life goal,” adds Kat, “but to achieve that after only one year of training is pretty phenomenal. And she is only 16.”
All three of Kat’s daughters are dancers. “They’ve all shown great promise with musicality. That’s all they have ever wanted to do, and that’s all they have ever done.”