Jon Trimmer, KNZM, MBE, dancer with Royal New Zealand Ballet from its earliest days, who also performed with the Australian Ballet in the 1960s, has died on 26 October aged 84. An obituary from Jennifer Shennan will be posted on this website a little later. In the meantime Jennifer has sent this brief statement:
Jon Trimmer, New Zealand’s leading ballet dancer, joined Poul Gnatt’s New Zealand Ballet company in 1959. He performed in every subsequent artistic director’s term for decades, and his artistic contribution to dance and theatre in this country is close to incalculable. In numerous roles he portrayed the full range of noble through to naughty, mysterious, magical, marvellous, musical and more. He was not just a mighty totara, he was a forest of mighty totara. We will not see his like again. The New Zealand, and indeed the wider dance world, is in mourning at the loss of a very great artist. E te rangatira,haere, haere atu. Moi mai rā.
I have a very clear memory of meeting Jonty, as he was familiarly called, at a cafe in Wellington in 2019 to talk to him about his memories of working with New Zealand born designer Kristian Fredrikson. Some of what we talked about subsequently appeared in my book Kristian Fredrikson. Designer. I remember in particular his words about the costume made for Captain Hook, Trimmer’s role in the 1999 Russell Kerr production of Peter Pan. The costume, which he is wearing in the featured image on this post, had to be remade because (as was sometimes the case with Fredrikson’s work) it was a little too heavy in which to perform well. Trimmer said, ‘The jacket was very heavy and the choreography quite demanding. After the first tour Kris made a new jacket. It looked the same but was made from lighter material so I was able to move more easily.’
I also have fond memories of seeing him perform, along with William Fitzgerald, in Loughlan Prior’s short work Lark in 2018 when I delivered the inaugural Russell Kerr lecture. In the brief footage below Trimmer talks about that work.
Vale Jon Trimmer. As well as being a remarkable dancer he was, from my brief encounters with him, a kind and generous man and his death is deeply felt by many. I look forward to posting an obituary from Jennifer Shennan in due course.
Update: Jennifer Shennan’s obituary of Jon Trimmer is now posted. See this link.
Michelle Potter, 29 October 2023
For more about Jon Trimmer on this website see this tag.
Featured image: Jon Trimmer as Captain Hook in Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 1999 production of Russell Kerr’s Peter Pan. Photo: © Maarten Holl. Courtesy Royal New Zealand Ballet