Juilliard's only Kiwi is dancing with stars

Last updated 13:34 03/01/2014
Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson
Derek Flynn

Young Ballet Dancer Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson has returned from his studies in New York for Christmas with the Family in Blenheim. In the background from left: mum Dee Guillemot-Rodgerson, aunt Leanne Guillemot-Rodgerson, grandmother Barb Guillemot.

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Former Blenheim woman Dee Guillemot-Rodgerson is accustomed to her son nonchalantly wrapping a leg around his head while watching telly, or adopting a ballet pose in the supermarket.

However, Juilliard School ballet student Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson never used to be so zealous.

"I hated the tights and I hated the partnering and stuff and it was all really hard," he said.

Joshua has returned to his grandmother's house in Blenheim for the holidays after his first semester at the world's foremost school of dance, drama and music in New York.

Joshua started at the school in late August, a culmination of almost a lifetime of tap, ballet and contemporary dance performances.

"It's going really well, it's really challenging and mentally, really intense," he said.

A typical day for Joshua can stretch from 9am to 7pm - or later, depending on the day. The hours are taken up with many expected classes such as ballet, contemporary dance and characterisation. But some classes are a little more abstract.

"In one of our classes we have to think differently so we can walk and sit properly," he said.

"You have to think about creating space in all of your bones and that is one of our basic classes. We have to transfer that to our ballet classes and contemporary dance.

"They're teaching you that everything you do has an impact on your dancing."

Joshua began dancing a aged 4. Since then he has been in six performances and more than 40 shows including contemporary and musical theatre. He also starred as Prince Siegfried in the Marlborough Dance Centre's production of Swan Lake in July.

At 14, he moved to Michigan, in the US, to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy. After three years there, Joshua began preparing to apply to Juilliard.

After auditioning with thousands of hopefuls from around the world, he was accepted.

Joshua is the only Kiwi and one of only four "international" students in the class of 24 in the university's freshman class.

Performing for almost 1000 people at a Juilliard show attended by elite dancers was his most nerve-racking ordeal ever.

"I've never been so nervous in my life." "

He flies back to New York on January 13.

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- The Marlborough Express


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