“I like exploring realms of mystery and beauty, opening them up so people can be re-enchanted. When I see a dance performance that does this for me, it changes me completely, every time – but it has to be good.”Douglas Wright speaks to Francesca Horsley, vol 196, the New Zealand Listener

Born in Tuakau, South Auckland in 1956, Douglas danced with Limbs Dance Company of New Zealand (1980-1983), the Paul Taylor Company of New York (1983-87) and DV8 Physical Theatre of London (1988) before forming the Douglas Wright Dance Company in Auckland in 1989.

Over his 25-year career Douglas Wright has created more than 30 works including Knee Dance, Faun Variations, Hey Paris, How on Earth, Gloria, Elegy, Forever, Buried Venus, halo, Arc, Inland and Black Milk. When Forever had its European premiere in Switzerland, it was hailed as “an overwhelming contemporary contribution to the history of our life and times”.

In 2002, he choreographed Inland, which premiered at the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts and then toured New Zealand. Critic Jennifer Shennan wrote of the work: “Douglas Wright’s choreographic imagination has yielded a profound work of dark humour and breathtakingly brilliant dancing ... It’s a work of genius. What else do you want to know?”

The Douglas Wright Dance Company has toured throughout New Zealand, and to Australia and Europe. His work has been performed by other dance companies, including The Australia Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and supported by Creative New Zealand.

In 2000 Douglas was one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates and in 2003 was the subject of a feature-length documentary film, Haunting Douglas, directed by Leanne Pooley.

His acclaimed 2004 book Ghost Dance (Penguin) is part love story, part memoir, a deeply felt meditation on the art of performance, on absence and on life itself. As in the best of Douglas Wright's dance-theatre work, light and dark are interwoven in deft, mysterious combinations.

The 2006 season of Black Milk was accompanied by the publication of a new book – Terra Incognito (Penguin).  In the same year Douglas presented wounded cloud and other works, his debut exhibition of painting and sculpture, at Stanbeth Gallery in Auckland.  He retired from dance in September 2007 on the eve of the publication of his first book of poetry laughing mirror (Steele Roberts). Laughing mirror was subsequently chosen by the New Zealand Listener as one of the Best Books of 2007. 

Tama Ma,a 15 minute work created for Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete, premiered in 2008 and in 2011 The Auckland Festival commissioned rapt , Douglas Wright's 11th full-length work.

 

  HAUNTING DOUGLAS
Directed and produced by Leanne Pooley , Spacific Films - 2003
Television New Zealand / ABC (Australia) / YLE (Finland)
Feature length documentary about the life and work of Douglas Wright, one of the world's greatest dancer/choreographers. Screened NZ Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Dance on Camera Festival-New York, Reel Dance Festival-Sydney, Vancouver Film Festival, Commonwealth Film Festival - Manchester, Cinedans- Amsterdam, IMZ - Brighton, Golden Prague, Reel Affirmations- Washington, Festival de Cine de Granada.
Winner "Best Director" and "Best Editor" 2005 NZ Screen Awards.
Winner "Best Documentary" Reel Dance Awards 2004 Sydney
Finalist "Best Documentary Feature" Golden Gate Awards San Francisco FF
Featured in Top Ten of the book "100 Essential New Zealand Films" (Awa Press, 2009)

 

 

Video

2003
'Haunting Douglas' - a documentary film by Leanne Pooley about Douglas Wright; choreographer, dancer, artist and Arts Foundation Laureate.
1956
Born Tuakau, South Auckland New Zealand
1980-1983
Danced with Limbs Dance Company of NZ 
1983-87
Danced With Paul Taylor Company of New York 
1988
Danced with DV8 Physical Theatre of London 1989Formed the Douglas Wright Dance Company in Auckland 
2000
Received one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Awards
2002
Choreographed Inland, premiered NZ International Festival of the Arts and toured NZ
2003
Subject of a feature-length documentary film, Haunting Douglas, directed by Leanne Pooley
2004
Ghost Dance (Penguin) publishedGhost Dance receives Montana Awards Best First Book of Non-Fiction, 2004
2006
Choreographed Black Milk which toured NZTerra Incognito (Penguin) published;Exhibition of painting and sculpture, Stanbeth Gallery,Auckland
2007
Retired from dance;Publication of first book of poetry Laughing Mirror (Steele Roberts) 
2011
Choreographed Rapt, an Auckland Festival commissionSee full list of choreographed works