Born in Tuakau, South Auckland in 1956, Douglas danced with Limbs Dance Company of New Zealand (1980-1983), the Paul Taylor Company of New York (1983-87) and DV8 Physical Theatre of London (1988) before forming the Douglas Wright Dance Company in Auckland in 1989.
Over his 25-year career Douglas Wright has created more than 30 works including Knee Dance, Faun Variations, Hey Paris, How on Earth, Gloria, Elegy, Forever, Buried Venus, halo, Arc, Inland and Black Milk. When Forever had its European premiere in Switzerland, it was hailed as “an overwhelming contemporary contribution to the history of our life and times”.
In 2002, he choreographed Inland, which premiered at the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts and then toured New Zealand. Critic Jennifer Shennan wrote of the work: “Douglas Wright’s choreographic imagination has yielded a profound work of dark humour and breathtakingly brilliant dancing”.
The Douglas Wright Dance Company toured throughout New Zealand, and to Australia and Europe. His work has been performed by other dance companies including Australia Dance Theatre, Sydney Dance Company and the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and supported by Creative New Zealand.
In 2000 Douglas was one of five inaugural Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureates and in 2003 was the subject of a feature-length documentary film, Haunting Douglas, directed by Leanne Pooley. His acclaimed 2004 book Ghost Dance (Penguin) is part love story, part memoir, a deeply felt meditation on the art of performance, on absence and on life itself. As in the best of Douglas Wright's dance-theatre work, light and dark are interwoven in deft, mysterious combinations.
The 2006 season of Black Milk was accompanied by the publication of a new book – Terra Incognito (Penguin). In the same year Douglas presented wounded cloud and other works, his debut exhibition of painting and sculpture, at Stanbeth Gallery in Auckland.
In September 2007 Douglas’ first book of poetry laughing mirror (Steele Roberts) was published. Laughing mirror was subsequently chosen by the New Zealand Listener as one of the Best Books of 2007. His last dance creation was a 15minute piece created for Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete featured in the work Tama Ma. And in November 2009 the Black Milk book was published (Craig Potton Publishing) documenting the creation and performance of this work, it features the exquisite photography of John Savage accompanied by text from Wright and writer Leonard Wilcox.
Significantly, in 2009 Ghost Dance was included in the book 50 Gay and Lesbian Books Everybody Must Read edited by Richard Canning and foreword from renowned literary critic Harold Bloom. This volume contains fifty essays by critics, public figures, and authors illuminating Douglas’ writing alongside literary giants Wilde, Woolf, Proust and Ginsberg to name but a few.