Express’ favourite choreographer Loughlan Prior is back with a groundbreaking take on Cinderella for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

In Loughlan Prior’s colourful new production, the princes fall in love with each other, while Cinderella chooses her own path. He talks to express about shaking off old traditions and embracing diversity!

What excites you most about the ballet scene in 2022?


The fact that we are in a place where traditionally conservative institutions are ready to embrace new and intimate stories; stories that explore the representation of diverse, complex and nuanced relationships, is so exciting. After the ‘Dark Ages’ of covid, where live performance was at a relative stand still, it is so emboldening to see the dance world flourish again, with a reinvigorated passion for the art form, and contemporary messages for the audience of the future.

So what can we expect from this production of Cinderella? 

This production is wild, chaotic and exciting. Forget what you think you know about the story of Cinderella and experience all the characters in a refreshingly modern way. In a world where peacocking reigns and ‘more is more’, Cinderella and Prince Charming find themselves in a story they don’t belong in. Only by following their hearts are they able to break free and re-write their narratives, finding true love and their authentic selves.

Loughan Prior by Katherine Brook.

Of the elements that really put a Loughlan Prior spin on the production, which are you most proud of? 

Fantasy, surprises, humour and a cinematic pace are all words I would use to describe my work. In our production of Cinderella, I am so proud to be collaborating with composer Claire Cowan and designer Emma Kingsbury, to take the story in a new direction, while paying respect to the past. 

The story follows both Cinderella and Prince Charming as they navigate separate struggles. Cinderella yearns to break free from her oppressive family situation and become her own woman, while the Prince struggles with his identity within royal marital expectations. In the end, Cinderella finds true love with the charismatic Royal Messenger, and as young ‘head over heels’ romantics, we see their relationship blossom organically through the arc of the show, while Prince Charming falls for Prince Dashing and comes out to his mother the Queen.

So on a scale of one to ten – how gay is this production?

10 out of 10! The whole show explores identity, diversity and summoning the courage to break free from the expected pathways society has placed on our characters. If that’s not a celebration of queer pride, I don’t know what is! 

The level of gay ‘campery’ is high, in the most flirty and fun way. Cinderella gets a makeover from the Fab Five, a posse of OTT stylists, summoned by the Fairy-Godmother, and Prince Charming dances passionately with Prince Dashing in a romantic pas de deux, which commands the athleticism and artistry of male ballet dancers. There might even be a kiss between the two Princes; something we’ve never seen in a Royal New Zealand Ballet production before.

Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Cinderella runs from Wednesday 3 August to Saturday 3 September including 3 – 6 August at Wellington St James Theatre, 10 – 13 August at Auckland’s Aotea Centre and 25 – 28 August at Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre. Tickets from

Photos | Katherine Brook.