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Acclaimed NZ choreographer Douglas Wright dies

Tributes are flowing for lauded New Zealand choreographer and dancer Douglas Wright MNZM, who died last night aged 62.

The master of contemporary dance had been in hospice care with terminal cancer since last month.

Actor Joel Tobeck posted on Twitter: "Douglas Wright. RIP. Being taught by you was the highlight of my time in the dance world. So inspiring and so much soul... Amazing, amazing, amazing."

Jonathan Bielski, the Auckland Arts Festival's Artistic Director, wrote: "Vale Douglas Wright MZNM. Choreographer. Dancer. Artist. Arts Laureate. One of Aotearoa's great artists."

Born in Tuakau, Auckland, in 1956, Wright joined the contemporary Limbs Dance Company in 1980 before launching his career overseas with the Paul Taylor Company in New York and the DV8 Physical Theatre in London.

Wright returned to New Zealand in the late 1980s and formed the Douglas Wright Dance Company, going on to create more than 30 works during his career, which he toured throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

His longer works included Gloria, Forever, How On Earth, Now is the Hour, Buried Venus, Inland, Black Milk, and The Kiss Inside.

In addition to his work as a dancer and choreographer, Wright write two semi-autobiographical books, Ghost Dance and Terra Incognito; as well as a volume of poems, Laughing Mirror.

Wright had battled ill health for many years, following a 1999 HIV diagnosis, however he continued to work until his retirement two years ago.

His work, M_Nod was performed as recently as last month, when it featured during the closing weekend of the Tempo Dance Festival at Auckland's Q Theatre.

Wright was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to dance in 1998 and was one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates in 2000.

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