Mary-Jane O’Reilly has had a professional career spanning over 40 years both in New Zealand and internationally.
Her early years were spent studying ballet from the age of 4, gaining Solo Seal while at the National Ballet School (now the New Zealand School of Dance) and performing with the New Zealand Ballet in 1969 before heading to London on an RAD scholarship to study at the Royal Ballet School and then performing in ballet companies in Europe.
In 1976 she turned to contemporary dance, studying Cunningham Technique in the USA before returning to NZ and co-founding Limbs Dance Company in 1977 as a dancer and choreographer and as the Artistic Director from 1979 to 1986 creating over 45 original works for Limbs.
In 1990 her concept (with Phil O’Reilly) and choreography of the Auckland Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Gameswith a cast of 6000, was viewed by over 5 million TV audiences worldwide.
She has received numerous grants and awards including the $30,000 Allen Highet Award (1984) for outstanding achievement by a mid-career artist and was awarded a Queens Service Medal for her services to dance in 1990.
It was also in 1990 that she choreographed the first ever commissioned three act ballet for the Royal New Zealand Ballet ‘Jean, The Ballet’about our most famous aviatrix Jean Batten.
From 1996 to 2001 she directed the contemporary ballet company Auckland Dance Company, and from 2001 – 2004 Mary-Jane taught at the Dance Programme of the University of Auckland.
From 2006 to 2011 she was Artistic Director of Tempo, New Zealand’s Festival of Dance, www.tempo.co.nzand in 2012 Mary-Jane co-curated the Living Room Festival (for the Auckland Council) with Phil O’Reilly
Currently she produces and presents In Flagrante– her successful contemporary dance / neo burlesque work and continues to be a freelance choreographer and dance teacher - teaching beginners ballet and open ballet level classes to adults at TAPAC. www.tapac.org.nz
In April 2019 she presented an excerpt of her contemporary ballet version of Giselle - What Becomes of the Broken Hearted at the Auckland Art Gallery’s North Atrium https://vimeo.com/342620271
featuring Amy Moxham - photo by Kezia Barnett
Where I am now Giselle, what becomes of the broken-hearted, is next year's major project. Plan to put it on in a theatre with projections and lighting...it will then have a cast of 12 as I need to add the two male dancers (interlopers) who come into this toxic environment and the women try to make them dance till they die!
Some images of my work Headline - Mary-Jane performing Witch Bitch 2009.
Above - images from Giselle - what becomes of the broken hearted at the Auckland Art Gallery April, 2019, photos by Amanda Billing and Kezia Barnett. Dancers - 1st image Kim Tasker and Amy Moxham with Lara Lieu and Shanelle Lenehan, 2nd image Merenia Gray and Amy, 3rd image Shanelle Lenehan, Karen Wright, Kim Tasker, Ariana Hond, Merenia Gray in background. 4th image Amy Moxham with Cat Fawcett and the Cynics.
Below - clockwise...Jean, the ballet (RNZBC) 1990, Opening Ceremony 1990, Limbs (Kilda and I) dancing for the Headhunters 1977, Limbs performing at Sweetwaters Festival 1981, In Flagrante Marching Girls 2016