'People are leaving because of her' - claims staff at Royal NZ Ballet are unhappy with new US artistic director

There are claims staff at the Royal New Zealand Ballet are unhappy with the choice of the company's new artistic director.

American Patricia Barker started her role in June this year, but since then 10 dancers will not return in 2018.

The RNZB says three are retiring, three have signed deals to perform in Australia and four have not had their contracts renewed.

But one RNZB employee 1 NEWS has spoken with says "people are leaving because of her".

The employee says Barker's style has got on the wrong side of some of the dancers, questioning whether her American background is suited to New Zealand.

The person – who chose to remain anonymous – says the Board of Trustees has favoured foreign artistic directors over Kiwis.

The concerns are echoed by former RNZB dancer and board member Nick Carroll, who says "there's a pattern and I guess that pattern relates to the fact that the last time there was a New Zealand-born artistic director of the company was in 1971".

"It sounds like you could virtually end up with a New Zealand ballet company which is not a New Zealand ballet company," he said.

The company's executive director Frances Turner denies there's a problem, and says she backs the choice of Barker.

Ms Turner says she has backing from the Board of Trustees and staff members.

In relation to the claims made, Frances Turner says "transition can be challenging for people, so people have their views".

"I'm so confident, I'm so aware of all the support Patricia has from the board and the team," she said.

- By 1 NEWS reporter Arrun Soma

The organisation is backing the controversial artistic director, despite 10 dancers heading out the door. Source: 1 NEWS