Small leaps of faith everyday, that's all it takes

DANCE on Grove artistic director Jeannie Mark and ballet dancer Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson in the studio getting ready ...
DAVID JAMES/FAIRFAX NZ

DANCE on Grove artistic director Jeannie Mark and ballet dancer Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson in the studio getting ready for Sleeping Beauty next month.

A life and career in the arts is not for the faint-hearted, especially for those drawn to traditional forms of dance such as ballet.

To earn a living in dance, it requires years of commitment, tremendous physical exertion, and nerves of steel.

Anyone seeking a career in the arts for fiscal returns should turn back now.

Get a haircut and a real job, please.

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Christchurch dancer Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson to graduate from Juilliard
 

Making a real impact requires passion and a love that goes beyond the comfort and security of us regular folk.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson while studying at the Juilliard Performing Arts School in New York.
www.lightworkx.co.nz

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson while studying at the Juilliard Performing Arts School in New York.

For many dancers, such as Juilliard graduate Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, a career in the arts is like making "small leaps of faith" every day, he says.

Following his graduation from the prestigious school in New York City, Josh needed a place to call home. That home is now the Houston Ballet Company in Texas.

A huge honour and reason to be proud. Not so much a leap of faith anymore, this is where dreams are made.

A young Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson when he won a prestigious scholarship to the United States in 2010.
FAIRFAX NZ

A young Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson when he won a prestigious scholarship to the United States in 2010.

But unlike some other art forms, Josh has no time to rest on his laurels during his down time before starting at the company at the end of their summer. Lest you lose game and gains, dancers always have to be working.

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Thus, it has been tradition for Josh over the past five years to return to Blenheim and the studio that helped nurture his talents, DANCE on Grove, to stay en pointe (literally), help other dancers and assist in the odd three-act, large-scale ballet production.

This year, Josh is back in the town where he used to visit his grandparents during the school holidays to help put together DANCE on Grove's production of Sleeping Beauty.

This will be the last time, however, that Josh performs in Blenheim before launching into his professional career with the Houston Ballet Company. 

"I went through the process of going to different countries and different auditions to find a home for my dancing after school," Josh says. "But wherever I went, I knew it had to be the right place for me too. The community spirit, support and technical ability at Houston Ballet was so inspiring and I am super excited to start working there."

To have a place in a company where he gets to finally earn a living doing what he loves is the culmination of many years of training. And Josh credits the New Zealand work ethic for holding him in good stead while overseas.

"I was lucky. I have always been encouraged being a male dancer. But knowing that this was what I wanted to do at a young age really helped. I never had second thoughts about it. But along the way it was all about taking small leaps of faith. And being a little brave helps."

DANCE on Grove artistic director Jeannie Mark says Josh has always had a special quality about him. And she has seen him develop from an early age.

"When he was 3-years-old he used to come here to the dance studio. So I've watched him develop from that point, and every year he would come to Blenheim for competitions. And every time he would do something that made everyone go 'wow'.

"And every time the 'wows' got bigger and bigger. But Josh has, and he probably doesn't even see this himself, a passion you don't often see in a lot of people. Even male or female, he has the want, or the love. He lives it every day. When you have that want, you can achieve anything."

But it's not a profession where you can take time off, says Mark, a former Royal New Zealand Ballet dancer.

"So when he is here in Blenheim he works at the studio or dances in productions."

This year, Josh is performing and helping with the production of Sleeping Beauty at the ASB Theatre. He will be playing the role of Prince Florimunde, of course, but he has other plans to 'wow' the Marlborough audience this year.

"One of the nice things about Juilliard is that they offered a lot of students choreographic opportunities. And a solo that I wrote got chosen for the finals of the Juilliard graduation performances, which is a huge honour and privilege."

Josh will perform his choreographed 5-minute solo performance before Sleeping Beauty - a chance to see how local talent can hold a candle to the best in the world.

The details

Sleeping Beauty

Sunday, July 9 at 4pm

Monday, July 10 at 7pm

ASB Theatre, Blenheim

Tickets: Adult $35, student (u19 with ID) $28, child (u15) $20

 - Stuff

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