Dancer fights deportation


A world-class Russian-born Queenstown ballet and dance teacher is fighting deportation from New Zealand.

Marianna Dogum - who arrived in town last August on an original six-month visa - has been refused a work visa by Immigration NZ, and could be kicked out.

She teaches up to 50 students in Queenstown, Arrowtown and Cromwell through Arrowtown School of Russian Ballet and Creative Arts, owned by her Kiwi partner and his mother.

Dogum’s the only Russian Ballet Society-registered teacher in NZ, specialising in its traditional Legat system. She also teaches and performs belly dancing and has formed a small dance group for functions.

“I cannot give up on this school,” she says.

“We’ve put so much effort into it, it’s working so well.”

The 26-year-old has appealed Immigration NZ’s refusal on humanitarian grounds to the Immigration
and Protection Tribunal.

Immigration NZ told Dogum in March her employment agreement is incomplete.

In her appeal, she says her partner sent the wrong file on her first application and that she’d since sent “the correct file containing the up-to-date employment contract”.

Dogum says: “You can’t just decline a visa just because of a contract and because you think there’s something not right.”

In a supporting letter, Queenstown Performing Arts Centre Trust trustee Craig McLachlan, whose wife Yuriko is a student, writes that she’s “an excellent dance teacher with an avid group of followers here in Queenstown”.

Local parent and singing teacher Margaret O’Hanlon, whose daughter’s been taught by Dogum, adds in her letter: “I have watched her working tirelessly and passionately, devoting many hours to advancing the skills and technique of students who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to work with such an advanced teacher.”

Immigration NZ area boss Michael Carley says Dogum’s visa application was declined because she doesn’t meet the requirements.

It wasn’t satisfied her employment contract complied with all relevant immigration and employment laws, he says, including holiday and special leave requirements.

Carley says no “compliance action” will be taken until the tribunal has made its decision.