From left: Tayla Briggs, 14 , Porscha Gillespie, 13, and Bridie Charles, 14, of the Rebecca Bignall Boutique Dance Company rehearse for Act III of Sleeping Beauty, their first ever company performance which is on at the Suter Theatre next week. Photo: Kate Russell.

New boutique dance company en pointe


Nelson’s most elite ballerinas will perform a fairytale classic next week at the Suter Theatre. Act III of Sleeping Beauty will be the debut performance for the Rebecca Bignall Boutique Dance Company, which started up last year.

With just 18 students aged between 10 and 18, it is one of the only studios in Nelson that offers a high standard of technical training. Rebecca also has around 200 students, aged from as young as four, at her recreational academy, which has been going for 12 years.

As well as ballet, they teach jazz and contemporary – which is her sister Chelsea’s domain. But she says the emphasis on her new boutique company is “quality not quantity” and they cap the number of students to keep the company intimate, manageable and effective.

“The motivation was to comprise a company which catered for extension students,” says Rebecca. “By creating opportunities to challenge and engage them, the students are able to progress quicker than those in a recreational programme.”

“They all compete locally or nationally and we’ve just had three selected for the NZ School of Dance senior and junior associates programmes.”

They have also had students go on to the prestigious Alvin Ailey school of contemporary dance in New York. Current student Georgia Norriss, who placed third at last year’s South Island Ballet Awards junior division, will play Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.

“The show is an opportunity for the juniors to get into the role of fairytale characters and aspire to be like the senior girls who will dance en Pointe for the duration of the performance,” says Rebecca. “We enjoy the reward of watching young talent progress. It’s pretty special to see these young women go on to achieve in the professional world.”

There will be two performances of Sleeping Beauty, on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th December, 7pm, at the Suter Theatre.

Each show will be followed by a variety showcase of jazz, contemporary and classical.

Tickets are $25 or $18 for children and are available from TicketDirect or the Theatre Royal.