top of page

The Firebird

World Premiere        2021 / Opera House Wellington

                                      Followed by a National Tour

Commissioned by    Royal New Zealand Ballet 


Choreographer                      Loughlan Prior

Composer                                Igor Stravinsky 

Costume and Set Design     Tracy Grant Lord

Lighting Design                      Jon Buswell

Animation/visuals                 POW Studios


Video footage: Jeremy Brick

Photography: Stephen A'Court, Celia Walmsley


Program Notes: The vision for this production has been inspired in equal measure by the mythology of the phoenix, an avian goddess and protective deity with elemental powers; and the current environmental crisis facing Mother Nature today.


Mythos and ecology collide on stage to create an uncomfortable future world, plagued by chaos and starved of love and nourishment. Only the wondrous Firebird/Mother Nature has the ability to reverse the destructiveness of human action and bring balance once more.  

The Phoenix is placed at the very heart of our story as we follow the arc of her woven life cycle. Represented in numerous cultures and iterations across the ancient world, she appears wreathed in flame to those in need of guidance, and is synonymous with offerings of hope, wisdom, restoration and cyclic rebirth. The parallels contained within the legend extend deep into our modern world. I believe the power to ignite a collective hope in humankind is one of the strongest forces in the universe.

An endangered species, the Firebird's existence is closely tied to the survival of the natural world, to which we are all connected. The wider dialogue surrounding climate action, conservation and our symbiotic relationship with all life on planet earth, has shaped the message we hope audiences will take away from the production.

In Earth's 4.5 billion year old history, our human story makes up just a tiny portion. We live in a very special place and thrive in Earth’s glory days, in a time of temperate conditions, stabilised obliquity, active geology and diverse flourishing life. Above all, The Firebird is a celebration of our gratitude for the planet, as we diligently strive to look after our home and each other.

Brave, innovative and welcome. - The Dominion Post

Developing as a signature amongst his diverse and prolific works, Prior’s creativity is matched by the intelligence of his approach to concept, musical interpretation and movement vocabulary. - Theatre Scenes


There is no exaggeration when we say, ‘If you can only see one ballet this year, make it The Firebird’— if we gave star ratings, this was a deserved 10 out of 10. - Lucire

Loughlan Prior choreographs meticulously to the music, using the dynamic shifts and changes as a scaffold for his innovative storytelling. - The Dominion Post

Prior captures the desperation in choreography that is daring and frighteningly honest. The Firebird has it all, theatre magic, memorable performances and the most important message of our times. - Maggie Foyer, Seeing Dance

bottom of page