Q&A: Deirdre Tarrant

Deirdre Tarrant founded internationally-acclaimed dance company Footnote in 1985, which would go on to become a Wellington arts staple.

When she’s not rushing around Cuba St, she serves as our Welly Angel, dispensing sage advice to worried Wellingtonians in our print issues.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

It’s debatable whether I have grown up. I love teaching and creating and have the daily treat of working with young people. They have talent and tenacity, and one of my great joys is reconnecting with dancers as they make careers, have families, pass me in the street.

What about other careers?

I always thought I would become a doctor and went to Dunedin – very briefly as there was not enough dancing! I came to Wellington to get a degree in logic and linguistics as fast as possible, and then to London to dance. Still dancing.

Where’s your favourite spot in Wellington?

South Coast in the morning, Cuba St for work, and my home at night (and during lockdown).

What’s an unexpected talent you have?

I worked for a shearing gang Deep South in Mataura. Had just come back from the South of France and volunteered to cook for the gang! I got paid £3 and 3 shillings for five feeds a day from 5am to 5pm. I even had a go on the shears: I was a natural!

What’s your go to takeaway order?

On Cuba Street I often finish late and Satay Village is my absolute go to! My grandchildren love it too. Very close is Scopa and Floriditas.

What book do you have by your bed?

I belong to a wonderful book group and we celebrated 30 years this year. I’m currently reading Charlotte Grimshaw’s The Mirror Book, but on the bedside table is Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book. I’m on a luxurious reread of this.

What advice would you give yourself?

No decision is the wrong decision. There have been a number of turning points in my life. Years ago my parents said, “Whatever you decide, you need to make it work”.

Do you have any regrets?

No regrets.

Deirdre’s troupe, the Tarrant Dancers, are performing ballet Cinderella and contemporary piece The World We Live In. The show comes to the Opera House on 12 December.

Tickets for the performance can be purchased here.

Read more Q&As here.


Sign up to our newsletter