Meet The Makers: Royal New Zealand Ballet
Published: Thursday 27 April 2023
It’s always such a delight to have New Zealand’s premier ballet company perform on our stages. With International Dance Day coming up this Saturday we thought what better way to celebrate 70 years of the Royal New Zealand Ballet than by hearing from some of the dancers, learning about their passion for dance, and why audiences need to see their latest performance, Romeo & Juliet this May.
Now, sit tight and let's meet some of the team!
Introduce yourself and your role at the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB)
My name is Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, I'm a soloist dancer with the RNZB and I am playing Romeo!
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
That every performance is completely different. The sound and tempo of the music, the energy of the audience, even each smile or tear shared with your partner is unique to each show. Every jump, every turn, every lift is one moment in time that can never be repeated exactly the same. It is so thrilling.
What’s the hardest thing about what you do?
One day you give the performance of your life, the next you're hitting the deck face-first and the only one’s clapping are the crickets. On any given night, not everything will go as planned, but recovering from mistakes is definitely the mark of a true professional.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To not have any regrets. Do the work and don't waste time wishing you had.
What’s the best show you’ve seen this year?
Something I saw last year that I am still thinking about is the ‘An Honest Conversation Series’ by Java Dance Theatre and it is happening again this year! The concept was made by Sacha Copland, and basically two performers chat and dance for an hour and they attempt to be completely honest. I saw Sacha and Kia Jewell's conversation and loved watching both the verbal and movement conversations develop throughout the hour, it was happy, sad and at times confronting. With a different pairing of artists each time it is something that warrants repeat viewings.
Who are your favourite artists/theatre companies/musicians etc. and why?
I love Black Grace because I saw them for the first time when I was 8 and it was what made me realize I was going to dance forever. Christopher Bruce, Mats Ek, and Crystal Pite are among my favourite choreographers. I'm also a bit behind on the train but really love Jon Batiste's album WE ARE.
Tell us about your upcoming show Romeo & Juliet.
The show is epic, emotional, and complex; everything you know of the play is here in ballet form. I think both dancing and acting-wise it’s a really challenging show that we are all excited to tackle. Romeo is the hardest most involved role I have ever performed. His relationship with Juliet develops so quickly, they go through so much in a short amount of a time that you need to make it believable. Every step will count. There are four main pas de deux in the show, and each one is different to the last which is a real test of our physical limits. All I know is that we will be exhausted by the end!
What can audiences expect from Romeo & Juliet?
Expect grand sets, detailed lavish costumes, swords clashing, high-flying lifts, heart-wrenching losses, and some of my all-time favourite music. Even though there are no words, you will absolutely hear the play and see Shakespeare's verse play out in beautiful poetic choreography.
Photography credit: Ross Brown