The Royal New Zealand Ballet is searching for a new artistic director.
Ethan Stiefel, RNZB artistic director since 2011, has not extended his contract with the Wellington-based professional ballet company, instead choosing to return home to the United States, the company confirmed today.
"I have enjoyed growing alongside the RNZB, and I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to live and work in New Zealand," Stiefel said.
"Despite how rewarding the experience has been it has proved difficult on a personal level to be so far away from family and friends," he said.
RNZB chair Candis Craven praised Stiefel and his fiancee - Gillian Murphy, a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and RNZB's principal guest artist in 2012 - for their contribution to New Zealand ballet.
"Ethan has made an incredible contribution to the RNZB. It was his vision and energy that most impressed us when we interviewed him for the role in 2011 and he has delivered that in spades and so much more," Craven said.
Behind the scenes Stiefel had expanded RNZB and strengthened its reputation, she said. The company experienced record-breaking seasons under his leadership.
An international search for a new artistic director was currently underway and the RNZB Board hoped to fill the spot by September.
Following their US tour, the RNZB is now in rehearsal for Coppelia which opens in Wellington on 17 April for an eight centre New Zealand tour.