Ethan Stiefel named artistic director of Royal New Zealand Ballet


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After a lot of wrangling, New Zealand will finally welcome the crew of Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’ in 2011. With considerably less aggravation -- and media attention -- the country will welcome American Ethan Stiefel as head of its top ballet company.

Starting in 2011, Stiefel will assume the role of artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. The 37-year-old dancer is expected to continue his previous role as a principal with American Ballet Theatre in New York. He is scheduled to step down from his post as dean of the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of Arts at the end of of the 2010-11 academic year.


Stiefel will be taking over the role of artistic director of the New Zealand company from Gary Harris, who started his tenure in 2001. The Royal New Zealand Ballet is based in Wellington and is the foremost ballet company in the country. Founded in 1953, it consists of 32 dancers who have performed in engagements around the world.

One of the more colorful personalities in the ballet world, Stiefel is known for his love of motorcycles and has appeared in dance-themed movies including ‘Center Stage.’ He is currently in a relationship with Gillian Murphy, who is also a principal dancer with ABT.

Stiefel and Murphy are among those scheduled to make an appearance at the gala opening of the new Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge on Jan. 29.

-- David Ng

[Updated: a previous version incorrectly stated that Stiefel would stay on as dean at the School of Dance at the University of North Carolina School of Arts.]


Valley Performing Arts Center sets gala opening Jan. 29


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