Athol John Farmer

Category Three: Nationally Recognised Notable New Zealanders

Date of birth

28 November 1953 in Timaru


John and Shona Farmer


  • Washdyke Primary School
  • Timaru Technical College


  • Started Scottish dancing at age 5 under Dorothy Thwaites and began ballet at 8 years winning a number of competitions
  • Joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company at 16
  • In 1970 he went to Osaka, Japan for Expo 70 with the ballet company
  • Worked on ‘Happen Inn’ with Ray Columbus
  • Moved to Germany in 1973 performing in Oberhausen, followed by performances in Cologne
  • Joined ballet company Von Jochen-Ulrich
  • Trained as a choreographer at the Cologne Opera Ensemble
  • Joined Tanz Forum, a major company, in Cologne and toured around the world, including dancing as part of the official entertainment at the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976
  • Worked on the choreography of operas such as La Traviata in 2005 at the Salzburg Festival, the Netherlands Operatic Company in Amsterdam, and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York
  • Still dancing at age 60

Last updated: 16 Sep 2021