After more than 13 years at the heart of the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Principal Dancer Abigail Boyle will retire from the national ballet company next month. Her last performances with the RNZB will be in Artemis Rising, a new work specially created for her by choreographer Sarah Foster-Sproull, which will premiere as part of the RNZB’s Choreographic Series from 1 – 9 March.
Known and acclaimed as an exceptional dramatic artist in both classical and contemporary roles, Abigail has inspired many choreographers, both local and international, to create works specifically for her. Her central role in TV3’s The Secret Lives of Dancers (2010, 2012, 2014), brought her a following throughout New Zealand that has extended far beyond the world of ballet.
In 2018, Abigail starred in the lead role of Ada in The Piano: the ballet by Jiří and Otto Bubeníček (2018), captured in Rebecca Tansley’s feature documentary, The Heart Dances. Last year’s
Despite the Loss of Small Detail by Sarah Foster Sproull showed her power and charisma while Petite Mort and Sechs Tanze by Jiří Kylián highlighted her lyrical side and immaculate comic timing.
In 2017, her show-stopping portrayal of Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet affirmed her standing as one of New Zealand's finest stage artists.
Abigail says she would like to thank all the audience members who have appreciated her work and supported her throughout her long career. ‘It is now my turn to give back to the arts industry in New Zealand’ she says.
Abigail is currently completing the Royal Academy of Dance Professional Dancers Postgraduate Training Certificate, as preparation for joining RNZB Education, where she will teach open classes for pre-vocational dance students around New Zealand this year.
She will also coach and develop emerging talent privately throughout New Zealand and she will also continue to teach pre-vocational and full-time students through the New Zealand School of Dance, an association she began in 2018.
RNZB Artistic Director Patricia Barker says ‘Abigail is an outstanding artist, and an inspiration to dancers throughout New Zealand. I am delighted that we are able to honour her through the creation of a new work which will encapsulate many of those memories.’
Abigail’s other principal roles with the RNZB include the title role in Didy Veldman’s Carmen, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and Balanchine’s Who Cares? In 2012 Abigail performed the role of Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, in Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s landmark production of Giselle, a performance subsequently captured in Toa Fraser’s Giselle (2013) and reprised during the RNZB’s international performances in China, USA, UK and Italy.
In 2013 she created a memorable role in Javier De Frutos’ The Anatomy of a Passing Cloud, commissioned to mark the RNZB’s 60thbirthday and subsequently performed in the UK and Italy in 2015. In 2015 she also created the role of Helena in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream reprising the role in Hong Kong and Wellington in 2016.
The RNZB Choreographic Series, including Sarah Foster-Sproull’s Artemis Rising, created in celebration of Abigail Boyle, is at the Opera House, Wellington, on 1 – 2 March and the Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch, on 8 – 9 March.