Teenager's gruelling training at world famous dance school

17:00, Aug 06 2014
Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson
DEDICATED: Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson studies dance at Juilliard School in New York.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson's classes begin at 9am. First up is a theory class, followed by eight hours of dance.

Most evenings he is at school until 7pm, sometimes he is right back there after dinner.

New York's Juilliard School dance schedule is gruelling and Josh is the first Kiwi to be a part of it.

The 18-year-old is the first New Zealander to be accepted into the prestigious dance programme and he has just completed his first year.

Three years from now, he hopes for a contract with a dance company. Juilliard, with its sacrifice and long hours and punishing schedule, will put him ahead of the pack.

The work he is putting in now will give him an edge in a truly cut-throat industry.


"It's full on, full days," he says. "But it doesn't often feel like that.

"It's pretty special."

Josh yanked himself away from the comforts of home in Christchurch when he was 15 years old. He studied at a specialist dance-oriented high school in America and the programme gave him a boost for the Juilliard auditions.

That leap of faith taken as a teenager may now see him lined up for a real career in dance.

"Juilliard definitely looks good on the CV," he says. "The networking definitely helps."

Josh performs for big school shows and student productions. He will be seen by some of the biggest names in the business before he even graduates.

In the meantime, he is living in Manhattan, a stone's throw from The Lincoln Centre and Broadway.

Despite being a scholarship student, Josh must raise about $25,000 a year to pay for a shortfall in his school fees and a high cost of living.

He is home for a three-month summer break and is pushing to reach that target so he can return to Juilliard at the end of the month.

There are only 24 people in his class, 12 men and 12 women.

The Press