The Royal New Zealand Ballet Welcomes Ty King-Wall as Its New Artistic Director

October 20, 2023

Ty King-Wall, a former Australian Ballet principal, is returning to his home country to take up his newly appointed role as artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Over the past year, RNZB has been under the temporary directorship of David McAllister, AC, following the retirement of former artistic director Patricia Barker. King-Wall, 36, danced under McAllister’s directorship for 15 of his 17 years at The Australian Ballet. He also holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and classical studies, and a master’s degree in arts and cultural management.

King-Wall retired from the stage 18 months ago, and since then he has been serving as the dancers’ director on the board of The Australian Ballet. His wife, Amber Scott, has also just retired from her career as a principal after 22 years with AB. With his artistic accomplishments and Kiwi background, King-Wall was an obvious choice for RNZB. As he relocates with Scott and their two children to the country’s capital, Wellington, King-Wall looks forward to leading an exciting new era for the ballet company that possesses, as he says, “a pioneering spirit.”

performs in <i>Sleeping Beauty</i> with The Australian Ballet. He flies in a jubilant sauté in attitude croisé derriere.
King-Wall in Sleeping Beauty with The Australian Ballet. Photo by Daniel Boud, courtesy RNZB.

RNZB has been in King-Wall’s life from the start. He was inspired to dance after seeing the company’s 1993 production of Cinderella in Auckland. Shortly afterwards, he went to see RNZB perform Russell Kerr’s Swan Lake, and his dream of becoming a ballet dancer was born. He established his official work relationship with the company in 2013, performing as a guest artist in that same production. It was a kind of welcome home for King-Wall, who describes RNZB as a company with an “openness, humility, and a ‘can-do’ attitude.”

Having admired RNZB from Australia for years, King-Wall looks forward to his directorship and sees a great future ahead for the company. “New Zealand is a small country. It’s geographically isolated,” says King-Wall, pointing to factors he believes contribute to the country’s “creativity, ingenuity, and innovation in fashion and music…and dance.”

Recently, RNZB has staged some groundbreaking contemporary ballet programs, including both Kiwi and international guest choreographers. In its latest program, Māori choreographer Moss Te Ururangi Patterson staged Lightscapes, which featured an all-male corps de ballet performing traditional Māori Haka dance. King-Wall promises to continue RNZB’s reputation for innovation and open-mindedness while paying homage to the country’s uniquely bicultural environment. He aims to highlight Te Ao Māori (Māori worldview), a mindset that is “so present and immersive here,” he says. “As one of the leading arts organizations, I appreciate how important it is for us to be representative of that.”

A male and a female dancer perform The Sleeping Beauty's grand wedding pas de deux onstage. She does a penche in toward him, and he lunges forward to support her waist.
King-Wall in Sleeping Beauty with The Australian Ballet. Photo Jeff Busby, courtesy RNZB.

Alongside his dance programming vision—and to celebrate RNZB’s innovation, diversity, and unique cultural environment—King-Wall wants to support dance training and education through the company’s outreach programs. He will also draw upon the strategic planning and people management skills he has learned over the past 18 months; running his own dance coaching business and serving as dancers’ director has helped him hone necessary leadership skills. “Having many different things happening at the same time is the life of an artistic director!” he says.

Ultimately, when asked what he is most excited about in this new chapter for his career and for RNZB, King-Wall points to one thing in particular: returning home to New Zealand after 20 years in Australia and “bringing my family and sharing this beautiful country with them.”