27 November 2019

Media Advisory


The Board, team and dancers of The New Zealand Dance Company (NZDC) today extend their heartfelt congratulations to founder and CEO/AD Shona McCullagh, as she was announced as the new Artistic Director for the Auckland Arts Festival leading the programming of the 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 Festivals.

“Shona co-founded and led The New Zealand Dance Company from its inception almost ten years ago and in that time has built a legacy arts company that employs full time dancers, creates exquisite work of and for Aotearoa, and has hugely impacted the lives and professional standards of so many dancers, choreographers, designers and arts professionals”, says NZDC Board of Trustees Chair, Sharon van Gulik.

“The trajectory of NZDC’s growth and its reach locally, nationally and internationally is something we are all proud of and Shona leaves us in such good stead financially and artistically, as Resident Company in the world class Wellesley Studios. We will miss Shona hugely, but wish her all the very best in this important leadership role within the New Zealand arts community”, she said.

In announcing her leaving the whānau of The New Zealand Dance Company, NZ Arts Laureate McCullagh described her sadness as visceral.

“I co-founded this legacy arts organisation with Frances Turner and a group of wonderful collaborators in 2011. The kaupapa has always been providing the best possible professional conditions in which to support the creation of excellent work by and for diverse artists and audiences, in Aotearoa and the world,” says Ms McCullagh.

“NZDC is extremely proud to have contributed to the resilience of the dance sector by co-initiating the establishment of Wellesley Studios – now a world class dance house serving many, many local, national and international students and professional dancers. NZDC is a company of stunning dancers, technicians and arts managers, many of whom are supported by the Board’s commitment to full-time contracts that support their well-being and security. I know that the Company will remain committed to this vision with the support of founding and current Board Members.

“I am deeply grateful to my present and past whānau and arts tribe for the gifts and knowledge they have shared with me, and their support of my journey. I am not leaving these beautiful people because I want to, but because I know there is much yet to flourish in a Company designed from the outset to support many individuals, rather than a single voice. And I can’t wait to hear the new ones sing”, she said.

McCullagh will leave NZDC to take up her new role in March next year. The Board of Trustees will shortly confirm the right structure and roles to replace Shona in her work, and will begin recruitment for her roles in December.

Media enquiries to:

JP Bolton


[email protected]

+64 21 089 41036

About The New Zealand Dance Company

NZDC is a high-calibre community of dancers, creative collaborators, arts managers and supporters dedicated to producing and presenting inspiring new dance for Aotearoa/New Zealand and the world. We exist with the desire to change the way audiences experience contemporary dance - to break boundaries and share its power, beauty and humility.

Our vision is to create new connections to dance by staging compelling, relevant works in highly engaging ways that not only entertain, but resonate long after the experience is over. NZDC was formed to build a hotbed of diverse, creative voices by attracting new talent whilst also reclaiming dancers and choreographers who have left our shores. Our point of difference exists in providing a full-time home for challenging and growing New Zealand contemporary dance culture.

Initiated by Arts Laureate Shona McCullagh and co-founded with Frances Turner, we launched in 2012, performing live to more than 30,000 people annually in New Zealand and around the globe. We've developed nine programmes of work with 25 different creations in our repertoire by choreographers spanning New Zealand, Australia, Holland and South Korea. We are onstage at least once a year in our base city of Auckland and tour New Zealand annually. We’ve delivered six international tours - to the Holland Dance Festival (twice), Australia, Germany, Liverpool, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Canada.

In addition to our professional Company, NZDC has a bustling Youth and Community Engagement Programme that touches close to 8,000 people per year through weekly classes, masterclasses and workshops for all ages and levels - including our popular over 60s Feisty Feet classes.

We believe that dance is the beautifully, truthful language of living and commit to creating a safe place to be brave.