Royal New Zealand Ballet 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago, a new ballet company came into being. Its beginnings were humble: a man with a vision, three female dancers and an accompanying pianist. This pioneering quintet made up the Royal New Zealand Ballet - a dedicated, passionate company that soon flourished, offering a much-welcomed entertainment experience for New Zealanders throughout the country.

Issue information

Since its creation in 1953, the Royal New Zealand Ballet has always displayed evidence of the kiwi spirit. Today it continues, especially in the eclectic range of dance styles. From classic nineteenth century productions, to contemporary performances which continue to push the boundaries of modern dance.

In addition to this anniversary issue, New Zealand Post sponsored the company's nationwide tour New Zealand Post Tutus on Tour. In 2003, the Royal New Zealand Ballet - a corps of 32 accomplished dancers with an extensive repertoire - commemorated its birthday with a 50-centre tour of New Zealand's small-town communities from Kaitaia to Invercargill. It was a dance celebration packed with classical and contemporary ballet sequences, a testament to the people who are the backbone of the company's success.

Passion and Energy

The Ballet's Anniversary first day cover captured the grace and fluidity of today's contemporary dance - a moment in time when energy and precision combined to achieve performance perfection.

A Talented Line-up

The stamps, the first day cover and the story behind the stamps were all included in the Royal New Zealand Ballet 50th Anniversary presentation pack. The pack provded a dramatic and colourful glimpse of some of the best of the Ballet's performances.

The Story Behind the Ballet

The Royal New Zealand Ballet's story is all about the pursuit and realisation of a dream. You could read more about this remarkable journey in an inidividually numbered Royal New Zealand Ballet 50th Anniversary limited edition. Only 2,000 copies of this prestigious publication were produced.

Product Listing for Royal New Zealand Ballet 50th Anniversary

Click on listing to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c '1971 Carmina Burana' gummed stamp.

The Ballet's 1971 production of the modern, 20th century Carmina Burana was choreographed by Bernard Hourseau and starred New Zealand's most well known dancer, Jon Trimmer. Performed in two acts to the music of German composer Carl Orff, the ballet is based on the manuscripts of 13th century defrocked monks and minstrels.

$0.40
Single Stamp

Single 90c '1989 Papillon' gummed stamp.

The story of Papillon - of fairies, princes, butterflies, goblins and magic spells - entranced audiences young and old when it toured New Zealand in 1989. Choreographer Paul Jenden endeavoured to recreate the story and choreographic style of the ballet's first performance in 1860, at the Theatre Imperial de l'Opera in Paris.

$0.90
Single Stamp

Single $1.30 '2000 Cinderella' gummed stamp.

Prokofiev's Cinderella is considered a modern ballet (it was first performed in 1945), yet its roots are firmly in classical ground. This popular fairytale of love and destiny comes complete with dazzling costumes, spectacular sets and some wicked characters, in stark contrast to the beautiful Cinderella and her dashing Prince.

$1.30
Single Stamp

Single $1.50 '2001 FrENZy' gummed stamp.

The Ballet's 2001 production of Ihi FrENZy was a bold and adventurous step - a boisterous combination of Māori culture, contemporary dance and music by New Zealand's Split Enz. Choreographed by New Zealander Mark Baldwin, the production blended the talents of the Ballet with those of Te Mātārae I Ōrehu, a 40-strong Māori performance group from Rotorua.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 '2002 Swan Lake' gummed stamp.

Although its first performance more than 125 years ago was panned by the critics, Swan Lake has endured to become the most popular of all classical ballet productions. The first of three ballets composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, this timeless story of two intense, yet ultimately doomed lovers has been performed countless times by the world's finest dancers.

$2.00
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $6.60
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $16.95
Limited Edition Limited edition collectable containing exclusive stamp products not available anywhere else. $135.00

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 March 2003
Number of stamps: Five
Denominations and designs: 40c 1971 Carmina Burana, 90c 1989 Papillon, $1.30 2000 Cinderella, $1.50 2001 FrENZy, $2.00 2002 Swan Lake
Stamps and first day covers designed by: CommArts Design, Wellington
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal and vertical)
Paper type: De la Rue 103gsm red phosphor stamp paper
Perforation gauge: 14
Number of stamps per sheet: 50
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode, value blocks and logo blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least two stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats for sheet stamps.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 4 March 2004.