Farewell, Douglas Wright — 15.11.18

We say goodbye to one of New Zealand's most influential choreographer's.

Heartbreak and sadness, that’s how we're feeling in the office today. We have received news that our dear friend, Douglas Wright, has passed away at his Auckland home, age 62. Douglas had been suffering from cancer and had spent the last couple of weeks in hospice care, surrounded by friends and family. We'd like to express our deepest condolences to Douglas' whānau. 

“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

Over his 25-year career Douglas Wright created more than 30 works including Knee DanceFaun VariationsHey ParisHow on EarthGloriaElegyForeverBuried VenushaloArcInland and Black Milk.

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 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 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.

Douglas announced his retirement in 2016, but his works continue to be performed. M_Nod featured during the closing weekend of the Tempo Dance Festival at Auckland's Q Theatre earlier last month. 

Thank you for the great work, Douglas. You will be missed.