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The Aussie stars of New Zealand ballet

Meet the three Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers slipping on Dorothy's ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz.

Following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City was never so much fun – or so tiring. Just ask the dancers who play Dorothy in the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of The Wizard of Oz.

It’s the talented Lucy Green (25), Tonia Looker (26) and Bronte Kelly (22) who take on the role on alternate nights during the national tour.

“Being on stage for one-and-a-half hours is incredibly hard on your body,” admits Lucy.

Lucy Green, who made a name for herself on the reality show, The Secret Lives of Dancers.

But having three dancers play Dorothy spreads the workload, adds Tonia, who started dancing when she was three years old.

“It also helps to avoid injuries and gives other dancers the opportunity to play the lead.”

It’s not the first time the talented trio has shared a principal role – in 2012, they alternated as Cinderella and say each of them brings something new to the role.

“We dance the same steps but we all bring our own style to it, so you could see a performance three nights in a row and have a different experience every night,” says Bronte.

The dancers also share a nationality – all are Australian, although they’re quick to credit New Zealand with giving them their big break.

“We’re very lucky to be doing what we do in Wellington,” tells Tonia.

Bronte, Lucy and Tonia will be bringing their individual flair to the role of Dorothy on different nights.

Each has fond memories of both The Wizard of Oz book and movie, but are excited that the story has been re-interpreted for the RNZB’s biggest tour this year.

“There are differences with this version, including Dorothy falling in love,” says Bronte. “But the changes add to the overall production and I know audiences will enjoy our take on it.”

As well as challenging their physical strength (“It’s not a question of if, but when ballet dancers get injured,” says Tonia), the role also stretched their skills, including learning tap dancing.

“This ballet is a mix of classical and contemporary, with a bit of tap dancing thrown in,” explains Lucy. “I had done tap before but the others hadn’t. Luckily, we had a great teacher.”

Lucy says ballet isn’t just about dancing.

“There’s a lot of acting involved, because ballet is a silent art form, so you have to work out a way to tell a story and make it believable without words. It really is a lot of blood, sweat and tears!”

The Wizard of Oz is touring New Zealand now. Visit rnzb.org.nz for more information.

Words: Sharon Stephenson

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