Kiwi-born dancer overcomes crippling knee damage
The male lead in tomorrow night's production of Giselle is the first dancer in the world to have cartilage-repairing knee surgery and continue performing internationally.
New Zealand-born Andrew Bowman, 34, who has been with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen since 1994, will dance the role of Albrecht when the Royal New Zealand Ballet production comes to Invercargill this week.
In 17 years of dancing professionally, he had never danced the role of the nobleman who breaks the heart of the heroine, Giselle, he said, and when Royal New Zealand Ballet artistic director Ethan Stiefel offered him the opportunity, he was "elated."
Stiefel was one of the reasons he was drawn back to New Zealand to work with the company again, Bowman said. The last time was as a child extra at age 12.
After graduating with honours from the Australian Ballet in 1993, Bowman joined the Royal Danish Ballet and became a soloist at the age of 22 and principal dancer at 23.
After years of pain from the cartilage in his knees disintegrating, he was approached by a surgeon in Copenhagen to have reconstructive surgery that had been done successfully on only one athlete.
The only alternative was to stop dancing because of unbearable pain, and that was not an option, he said.
He took a chance and the surgery was successful. The cartilage has fully grown back, and he has since set out on a freelance career, performing in Ivan Putrov's Men in Motion at London's Sadler's Wells. Bowman is booked for performances through 2014.
Stiefel, who danced the role of Albrecht for 16 years before becoming artistic director, said Bowman's family had a long history with the RNZB - both his mother and brother are former dancers with the company - and it was wonderful to work with him.
"It's great to be able to bring Andrew back to New Zealand and share his talent with his home crowd."
Giselle is on at the Civic Theatre tomorrow and Wednesday.
- The Southland Times